Will Lukang, PMP, MASCL, MBA
The act of balancing work and family sometimes leaves us tired and worn out. As a result, we end up taking a lot of things for granted. Things like health and bonding with family are put off because of the conflicting priorities. All of these are done for the quest of achieving our career goal and climbing the proverbial corporate ladder.
Most companies expect a good return on their investment. Such demand equates to doing more for less. As a result, work demand forces us to work extra hours in order to meet our deadlines. The challenge is whether you can sustain such performance and how many sacrifices you are willing to make in order to achieve your goals. Work and family demands are like magnets that pull us in different directions.
Personally, I confess to be being a workaholic. Back then, my work was an extension of my personality. I completed two masters while working full time. I was able to do so because of my supportive wife (Jane) and I had to give up going out with friends, spending time with families and I slept less and less. (Otherwise it sounded like you gave up sleeping less and less.)
After I completed my second master, I reassessed my situation and came to realize that I took a lot of things for granted. While pursuing my career goals and masters degrees, I spend less quality time with my family. Health wise I did not exercise and slept on average about 4 hours a night. I’m sure I did burn the candle that could be a risk for me in the long run.
So, what did I do to mitigate the risk?
1) Re-prioritize what is important to me – like health, family, work in that order. I put health first because without my health I cannot be there for my family. I started exercising and taking care of myself.
2) Spending more time with my family – I knew that work demand would always be there. I decided to leave no later than 6:30 p.m. to be home in time to spend time with my two girls and do things like reading books and playing with them. Once they go sleep, I’ll do my work. A wake up call for me is when I came home early and my daughter would ask why I was home early. It seemed like they expected that I would come home late all the time.
3) Learned to take down time – I do take days off and recharge. This includes enjoying my vacation that enables me to recharge.
4) Slowdown and smell the roses – While I’m still focused on achieving my career goal, I have learned to keep things in perspective and not take everything seriously. I enjoy a stroll in the park with the family and walking with my wife and children in our neighborhood.
It is time to pause and think about the sacrifices we are making. We cannot continue to take things for granted, because it might be too late for us to make things up. As a parent, we only have one chance to bond with our children; this is when they are young. Once we miss this opportunity, it might not present itself again. Our health is really important, because if we get sick, it can prevent us from doing what we really want in life. So, stop and think about the things that you are taking for granted. If you’re reading this, you still have time to do something about it. What are you waiting for?
Great post Will. The kids won’t be there forever, so it’s important to make the time now.
I was discussing kids with an older gentlemen once and he told me “The days are long, but the years are short.” That one has stuck with me for a long time.
Wow… well said. Time runs so fast my eldest is already in college next year. I am glad I spent time with them before they are grown-ups.
I recently read the book, How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen – I was sad that all he talked about in that book was true, but I have passed many of those milestones. I am learning new ways to make a difference because my kids are all grown – but I still have much of my life left.
Love this post! I also read the book The Character Based Leader which I found excellent, practical, and true to its purpose.