Steve Spring shares 10 simple strategies for staying successful at work and at home.
When Max Schireson announced that he was leaving his role as CEO of MongoDB to spend more time with his family and friends, he wrote that, “Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family.”
In his farewell announcement, Schireson wrote about the things he’s missed (a family puppy being hit by a car, emergency surgery for his son) and the miles he’s flown (he’s on track for 300,000 this year). He also wrote that while it is common for women to juggle their family with their career, men are expected to focus on their career and squeeze in time with their family if, and when, they can.
Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or you’re slaving away in a cubicle, you are probably struggling with balancing your career with your family. In a recent Citi/LinkedIn survey, when men were asked about their biggest career regrets, 17% said they wished they’d spent less time at work and more time with their families or on personal pursuits.
As men, we’re wired to be the breadwinners, to be the providers for our families. We fear that spending more time being a husband and father will make us look to others like we’re not doing our main job. It can be tempting to focus on your career, especially if you’re trying to get a raise or manage an important project—or simply keep your job in times of economic uncertainty. If you’re spending most of your time working, your family life is going to suffer.
While you may need to focus on your career right now, there are a few secrets that you can use to better manage your career, and take care of your family without getting overwhelmed. I have created 10 strategies that you can use to help you manage your career and family, and to help you become a better husband and father. I have also created a check list for Good Men Project Readers that will help you implement these strategies in your life.
Here are my 10 strategies:
1. I KNOW WHERE I AM HEADED
Most of us plan our careers, our new new homes, and even our vacations, but we never take the time to plan our life. As a result we often end up with poor health, failed marriages, and broken families. It doesn’t have to be this way. Begin to live your life on purpose by taking the time to get clear about where you are going in life.
2. I KNOW MY PRIORITIES
Your priorities become clear once you know where you are headed in life. Once you are clear about where you are headed in life, your priorities become clear. By keeping things simple you will be able to focus on the few things that really matter to you.
3. I MANAGE THE “BIG ROCKS”
Your “big rocks,”are your most important tasks—the one that will need to focus on if you are going to succeed. Time management pros will tell you that identifying your big rocks first is a key to getting things done. Focus on getting your “big rocks” taken care of first, and the rest will fall into place.
4. I SEEK THE ADVICE OF OTHER MEN
Most men don’t tell anyone what they want or what they are struggling with because they don’t get an outside perspective. When we do this, we miss out on the experience of others. Take the time to listen and learn from other men who have been where you are and have experienced what you are experiencing.
5. I KNOW THAT MY JOB IS NOT MY IDENTITY
You are a husband first, and a father second. Your job is what you do to pay the bills. Don’t make the mistake of tying your self-esteem to the success or failure of your job.
6. I KNOW WHEN TO SAY “NO”
Once you have said “yes” to your priorities in life, you are in a great position to say “no” to the things that matter less. You will have the clarity to manage your priorities rather than to be managed by them. Learn to say “no” to the good, so that you can say “yes” to the best.
7. I DON’T TAKE MY HEALTH FOR GRANTED
This is one area where you need to put yourself first. This means before your family, friends, and career, because you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself. If you don’t look after your own health and become sick, you are not much use to your family or your employer.
8. I HAVE A SUPPORT NETWORK
Very few people (if any) achieve anything great alone. Sports stars have teammates, coaches, and cheerleaders. You should too. Be willing to ask the people in your life to support you. It’s great to have the help, the encouragement and the fellowship of others who want you to be the best person that you can be. It makes all the difference in the world.
9. I FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME
In the past, most people believed that multitasking was a good way to increase productivity. After all, if you’re working on several different tasks at once, you’re bound to accomplish more, right? Unfortunately, multitasking does not save you time. Not only has research shown that multitasking reduces your productivity, it has also be shown to be harmful to your health. Focus on your career when you are at work, and your family when you are at home.
10. I THINK “WE,” NOT “ME
It sounds so obvious but having a family-oriented life requires everyone thinking in a family-oriented way. Once you begin to see your work as something that takes place within the larger context of the your family, you are able to quit worrying about whether you have your priorities right, and everything will begin to fall into place. The important thing is to show that your family is important thing in your life by your actions.
There you have it. These are my 10 secrets to becoming a better husband and father. They have helped me, and I am sure that they will help you. Pick one to implement today and you will be on your way to becoming a better husband and father.
Just remember that becoming a better husband and father isn’t a one-shot deal. It is a continuous process as your family, interests, and career change. Use this check-list periodically to examine your priorities—and make changes, if necessary—to make sure you’re staying on track.
What is one thing that you can do to spend more time with your family today?