t’s 5am when your alarm clock rips you from a deep slumber. Before you know what hit you, you are out the door.
One rushed task after another brings you to the end of the “work day,” but the to-do list isn’t even half way complete. You rush (or rage if the traffic is bad) home to find your family has eaten without you.
You retreat to your home office hoping to resolve at least a few more tasks before the sun dips below the horizon. Of late, there have been too many nights burning the midnight oil.
As you drift off to sleep you promise yourself, “Tomorrow will be different.”
Alas, five months later you still find yourself repeating this soul sucking routine. You can feel your precious relationships with your spouse and your children slipping away, but as hard as you work you can’t seem to escape the daily grind.
You know you need more work-life balance. You know this isn’t sustainable. What is the point of all this hard work, if you have no time left to enjoy the fruits of your labor with those you love most?
Yet, no matter how many audiobooks you listen to during your commute, work-life balance still remains just out of reach.
This is the article that will help you change this detrimental pattern once and for all.
Step 1 – Give Up
No. That wasn’t a mistype.
I interviewed, Bradley Callow a founder of Rich Legacy, an organization that provides parents with smart tools, custom coaching, and unique experiences to empower their children.
“If our experience helping high-performing families around the world has taught us anything, it’s that work-life balance is a lie,” says Callow.
It is simply unattainable.
Step 2 – Adapt
Instead of focusing on work-life balance, Rich Legacy’s team of private family coaches emphasize work-life (or work-family) integration as the goal.
What’s the difference?
Balance indicates equality, but for any driven parent there are simply not many lines of work that allow them to remain competitive and dedicate equal time to work, personal, and family.
“Work-life integration is about making family and personal time as impactful as possible. “
There are simply not enough hours in the day to not be intentional with your time in or out of work.
This article focuses on the personal and family aspects of your life, but there are plenty of great resources to help parents like you work smarter.
Work-family integration is about living smarter not working harder.
Step 3 – Look in the Mirror
Chances are your search for more work-life balance is motivated by your desire to live a happier and healthier life.
For many of us, happiness is a transient state of mind – but you can set yourself up success.
Irrational thinking, short temper, and low energy are not characteristics of a happy human.
“Everyone brings their own historical and emotional baggage to an interaction. Sadly, when we weigh our children down with that baggage we make it more difficult for them to become healthy and happy adults” says Callow.
You can’t make your family happy unless you are happy first.
Masters of work-family integration lead by example.
Step 4 – Memorable Moments
For kids, time with their parents is everything.
“If you think back to your childhood, your warmest memories with your parents are often little things” explains Callow. “These are special one-on-one moments where you had an opportunity to share a small, but meaningful part of yourself.”
Rich Legacy focuses on quality over quantity, helping parents find the small windows of time throughout the week that will make a huge difference.
In the rapid paced and performance driven culture we live in, it has become increasingly difficult to spend large amounts of time with your children. Make the time you spend with your children really matter.
Work-family integration isn’t about making more time for your children, that’s impossible. Work-family integration is about scheduling time with your children.
Step 5 – Track Your Time
With such limited time available, every minute counts.
It is amazing how poorly we spend our time.
According to Callow, “Without fail, our clients are amazed to learn how much time they are investing in areas or ways that aren’t meaningful.”
Over the course of the next seven days, track your every move – from the time you get up – to the time you go to bed. (A Time Logger https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/atimelogger/id358979305?mt=8 is an example of an easy to use personal tracking system.)
You will be amazed at what you find.
Parents who are skilled at work-family integration focus on impact!
Step 6 – Try it On
Tracking time will reveal waste. Wasted time can be reallocated to the family. Now you can begin to explore different types of self-care and family time and decide what works best for you.
Examples of self-care include, but are not limited to cardio, weight lifting, journaling, meditation, hobbies, and even alone time.
Examples of technology free family time include but are not limited to sports, board games, cooking, eating out, vacations, and family retreats.
Rich Legacy has created retreats designed specifically to improve connection and mutual understanding for entrepreneurial fathers and their sons while teaching the value of personal development.
“With such hectic schedules for parents and kids these days, we knew we needed to create the opportunity for parents to spend real quality time with limited distractions from the outside world. While we haven’t yet put together retreats for moms or daughters, they are coming soon!”
Keep in mind that most self-care and family time has a cumulative effect and requires a long-term commitment for maximum results. Be patient and keep exploring.
Work-family integration is a lifestyle.
Step 7 – Make Micro Shifts
Start small. Making daily or weekly commitments to ease into attainable goals will improve your success rate! Small changes can really add up.
Callow shared, “Our co-founder, Gordie Bufton, came up with this concept based upon his own powerful battles to create a lasting and significant change in his life. As a recovered drug addict, Gordie is a constant reminder to me and our clients, that small decisions made daily can not only improve, but save your life.
Sample self-care routine:
- Meditate 5 minutes per day
- Write 100 words every morning
- Walk 20 minutes 3 times per week
- Lift weights once a week
Sample family time routine:
- Spend 5 minutes every evening asking open ended questions and just listening to your children
- Schedule at least one quarterly experience (afternoon, day, or weekend) to spend one-on-one with each child
- Have family dinner at least once a week with no phones allowed
Whether for yourself or your family, find an accountability partner to help you set realistic goals and stay on track.
“Again and again our coaching clients experience huge wins for themselves and for their families through our private and group coaching. It’s so easy to slip back into old bad habits without social accountability to keep these two critical elements of a good life top of mind,” says Callow.
Work-family integration is supported by like-minded peers and professional coaches.
Step 8 – Guard Your Time
Even with the best accountability and coaches, in the moment, it’s up to you to honor your commitments.
You wouldn’t miss an important meeting with a vital customer, would you?
Of course not! It would have a negative impact on your business.
Missing self-care and family time can be harmful to you and your family.
Put self-care and family time on your calendar. Protect this scheduled time the same way you would protect a critical business meeting.
Work-family integration requires commitment.
Step 9 – Get Back on Your Horse
Even with business obligations that you have no intentions of missing, things can come up!
Just like with work, eventually you are likely to find yourself getting away from the self-care and family routines you create.
It doesn’t matter that you’re showing up in the mirror, at home, and even at work as a much better version of yourself.
It’s just human nature.
Set a reminder for once a month to revisit your goals and renew your commitment.
Work-family integration requires some trial and error. Plan it, try it, fix it.
Step 10 – Easy Hard or Hard Easy?
Each month when you review, remember that these steps aren’t easy. In fact, they take consistent effort and sacrifice.
Just like in most areas of your life, you have a choice.
Option 1 is to take the easy route now and risk that it will be harder in the long run. Option 2 is taking the hard route starting today and trust that it will be easier in the long run.
Ever wait too long to wash the dishes because you just didn’t feel like cleaning them right away?
What happens? The food hardens and it’s ten times more difficult to get the food off the plate!
Self-care and family time are no different. You can take the easy route and push change in these parts of your life until next week, next month, or even next year, but the potential consequences are scary and very real.
Health problems, emotional meltdowns, rehab, fractured or broken relationships, and the list goes on…
Rich Legacy poses this question to everyone they speak to at their events around the world, and I’ll leave you with the same question.