It was past 7:00 pm last Friday and the office was empty. I had already been at work for 12 hours and I was utterly discouraged by the large stack of papers on my desk, as well as the ever-increasing list of things that still needed to be complete. My wife called and gave me a “free pass” to stay at work as late as I needed to get things done. But in the end, I knew I needed to get home to spend some time with my family. You see, all this talk about work-life balance means nothing if I am filled only with good intentions and a plan.
I had to act, and I had to act quickly.
I packed up my bag and shuffled out the door. As I was driving home, I thought about the things that need to occur for me to successfully juggle a career and a healthy family lifestyle. While these may be true for every venture (whether business or personal), there are three simple steps:
- Desire. Unless you married a pterodactyl (…yes, that is the correct spelling…), or unless your child’s nickname is “Denis the Menace”, most workaholics have the desire to change. We have all heard about the guy on his death bed who never said, “I really wished I had spent more time at work.” The reason why that analogy resonates with each of us is because we don’t take the time to slow down and think about our desires. We are too concentrated on the goal of the day, the challenge at work, the next big business deal. But if you slow down and get to the heart of the matter, most will say they wish they had more balance in their life.
- Plan. Many people fail at this juncture because they do not know what a plan entails. It is this simple…Pen, Paper, Write: “Once a week for the next four weeks, I will be home by 5:30 to eat dinner with my wife and kids. After dinner, we will go on a walk (or read a book) (or jump on the trampoline) (or…anything other than watch TV or a movie).” A plan is nothing more than directing where your time will be spent.
- Action. You cannot stop with good intentions and a plan…you must act. That is why planning is so important because if you set your plan at a level you cannot reach, then the choice of non-action becomes easier than action. So long as you press forward with your plan, no matter how small a step of action it is, you will be one step closer to finding work-life balance.
My suspicion is that we all get stuck at one of these steps. A plan with action and no desire soon fizzles out. A heart-filled passion without a plan often hits it the target of no where because no planning was done. And as a juggling spouse, all of your desires and plans to spend more time with the family do not mean a thing if you never get through the exit door at work.
Question: Desire, Plan, or Action…Where’s your downfall?