What’s More Important to You – Family or Business? This is the question we will discuss in this article.
If you’ve answered ‘family’, you’re right! But chances are that you were forced into answering that only to satisfy your conscience. Want to find out what I mean by that? In this article I will be listing out some situations you may face as a parent and bread-earner that will push you to re-evaluate your answer to the question and set you on the better path to health and peace.
Some additional questions to consider:
- Why do you work?
- How much time do you spend with your spouse?
- Do you play with your children?
- When was the last time you attended your kid’s performance at school or church?
- How much time do you spend on your work?
- How many hours do you sleep each night?
- When was the last time you had a hearty laugh with your family?
- Now, if you’re still living with your parents (not married, and no family of your own), how much time have you been able to give them in the last few weeks?
Not all these questions will apply to you, but I urge you to honestly think about them. You will be able to determine what really is your priority.
I’m married and have two boys. Brilliant and intelligent. They have fun playing together. They indulge in their own hobbies. They enjoy doing things together – watching cartoons, painting, playing with Lego blocks, crashing Jenga blocks and racing on board games. However, there is one more thing that they crave – time with their father. Time with me.
In life, it is almost always the things that you don’t have access to that makes you want even more. Isn’t that true? Though I’m working from home and almost always around and easily accessible to my kids, they still want my participation in some of their activities – playing cricket or badminton, or even just the board games.
This article reflects my own experiences and I hope they will give you insight into setting your priorities straight.
Setting Priorities Right
If you’ve answered all the questions, I asked you early in this article, you would have probably guessed where your priorities lie. Let’s analyze the first question, “why do you work?”
I’ll answer it for you, and hope that it resonates with you too.
“I work so I can earn a living that will help me care for my family and support my kids’ education and hobbies.”
This could be the reason for most of you.
In this answer the key is ‘family’. The reason I work is for my family. If that’s not what you do, and if money is the driver for all the work you do, then you’re on a dangerous path. Money can bring you a lot of things, but what it cannot buy is happiness.
Over the years of my professional work experience I realized that I was spending too much time at work. First it was travel time. I had to start early (6:30 am) to beat the traffic, and by the time I reached home after the day’s work it used to be 7:30 or 8:00 pm. Being dead tired after coming back home, all I wanted to do was rest, eat and sleep. Time with my kids was extremely limited.
My project at workplace changed. I would be supporting clients from the USA and other global markets. That meant I had to start work late in the evening and stretch all the way into the wee hours of the morning. Can you imagine doing that? I know medical staff, especially nurses, do that no matter which country they work in. But can you?
I liked the timings of my work in the beginning but felt the pinch only later. I wasn’t spending as much time on commute to work, but I was completely missing out on time with my kids. Working from home seemed like the best option.
To make up for this lost time, I used to take a couple of days off and take my family on a vacation. Those were some of the most memorable moments of my life. It was like a family discovery trip each time – we learned about each other and took in all the sights and sounds of the surroundings. My kids didn’t want those times to end. But unfortunately, they had to. And we were back to the same old routine.
If you have kids – they are your top priority.
- Your kids need to interact with you – their parent. They need to understand that you are there for them all the way. They want to be assured that you can be relied on. Don’t make the mistake of getting your kids to interact with friends more than they interact with you – you will cease to be on their primary list of contacts later in life.
- Your kids need attention. Your attention. They long for a word of praise and acknowledgement from you. Now, aren’t you longing for that same benefit from your employer? Well, won’t you be disappointed if your boss never once said anything good about your work?
- Your kids want to be spoken to. At your workplace, unless you are an independent contributor who sits in a lonely cabin, you want a social life, right? You want to speak and be spoken to. Your training begins at home. Spend time with your children. Talk to them. Sit down and listen to them. These are memories that build relationships. These things build bonds. Your children will adore you and thank you for being that parent who listens.
- Your kids want you to join them in their little joys. Honestly, do you find pleasure in spending time with your kids or with your colleagues on an office trip? Personally, I enjoy spending time with my family on trips than with an office group.
I could go on but let me stop here.
Learning the Right Skills
If you’ve not been giving enough time to your family and if this article has, in any way, opened your eyes, I’d like to tell you that it may not be too late to re-prioritize your life. Here are some things you can do.
Time Management and Prioritization
Managing your time is of great essence. Once you’ve mastered the art of managing time you will be in charge of your life. Your days will be more enjoyable. There will be less procrastination. Less stress. More time for other things. Better lifestyle. Here’s what you do.
- Start by setting a time for every activity – use a calendar app to create tasks and time them.
- Set specific working hours for yourself (you’ll need to work around this if you have a 9-5 job).
- Time your activities such that your free time coincides with your children’s free time.
- Break down large tasks into chunks that can be completed in smaller pieces over a few days, but before the due date.
- Get into the habit of planning ahead.
I’ve written an article about this on the blog, and you can read it here.
Delegation is the mark of a good leader. If you can delegate your work to someone else in your team, do it. Save yourself some time and re-prioritize tasks. But, again, make sure you delegate to the right person if not you will have more work later.
Goal setting is an important, but overlooked, skill. You need to be able to set specific goals for yourself. Transforming your long-term goals into weekly goals will help you achieve your goal even faster than you could have imagined. Achieving goals gives you the satisfaction of ‘achievement’, thereby freeing you of mental stress of having goals not met.
So, there you have it! All the reasons and steps you can take to ensure your priorities regarding family and business are in the right place. Remember, family comes first. And, of course, you are working to support them. Making sure your family is well taken care of, without sacrificing on time spent with them, will give you the mental peace you’ve been longing for. This, in turn, will add benefits in the form of better health for yourself. The result is that you will be in a better position to accomplish even more, even with lesser time on hand.