Jim loved his job. He was successful, traveled, had a lot of responsibility and as a result was paid well enough to be the primary income supporting his wife and two children. His job and life must have been working out really well, right? Maybe not.
We all know that work/life balance can be difficult. Finding time in a day for work, family and personal care can seem impossible. It can feel like we daily short-change some aspect of our lives. And although we seem to make it work, getting from one day to the next, and the reality of these crazed routines can be more damaging than we realize.
Find Time for Relationships
Jim thought he was doing his best and that his wife was on board with the way they had set things up. As it turned out, the scramble of managing work and family and the division of responsibilities created a divide between them as well. Yes, they were checking all the boxes each day—work, kids fed, transported, school handled, bills paid, house still standing—but, at the end of the day, that feeling of success had nothing to do with the two of them as a couple.
Their lives were intertwined by what felt like necessity and mutual reliance, and the bond that made them a couple in the first place was slowly disintegrating. Finding ways to improve their relationship was becoming harder and harder.
Find Time for Family
Jim’s kids seemed to have all they needed. They were involved in sports, club activities and had friends. They took yearly vacations and never seemed to lack for anything. But, they were missing one very crucial component—a connection to their parents.
While their parents were checking off the boxes on the schedule, Jim’s kids were learning not to rely upon them for anything other than the material and the functional. To them parents were good for rides, food, buying needed items, and occasionally checking homework. It did not occur to them that parents were also there to listen, confide in, give advice on difficult personal matters, and sometimes just hang out. They didn’t see anything wrong with this because it was all they knew. And Jim knew that he needed to take steps to be a better dad, but he just never got around to changing anything.
Find Time for Self
Each year as he was supposed to, Jim went to the doctor for his yearly check-up. When his doctor told him that he was 30 pounds overweight and had high blood pressure, he wasn’t surprised. When he told him that this trajectory would likely cause him to face some major health issues like heart disease and diabetes within the next five years, he was concerned but still didn’t take any action.
With so many things on his plate and a waning relationship, Jim made no time for himself. His exercise consisted simply of sprinting through airports and running after children.
What Can You Do?
Do you know anyone like Jim? Are you like Jim? His situation is not unusual. If you identify with any of his story, you may need to spend some time reevaluating your life priorities and approach.
For most of us working is a non-negotiable, and because of that, it is more important than ever to look for ways to find that balance. However, we must recognize that the type of work and how we work is all a choice.
Try some of the following to help bring the balance back.
• Walk and talk. After dinner, take a walk with your family. This is a triple benefit idea. Not only is it good for your health, it also gives time for conversation and connection with your family.
• Let the kids help cook. Don’t just hand cooking responsibilities over to them, but do involve them. This will not only teach them about nutrition, cooking, and responsibility but also help you and provide some quality family time and create memories.
• Schedule time with your partner. Try asking your partner to get up 15 minutes earlier with you so you can have a cup of coffee together. Or, stay up 15 minutes later to do a crossword or just talk.
• Reserve a portion of Saturdays or Sundays for family time, you time, or couple time. If you can make this time something active like biking or hiking, even better. Otherwise, find things that create camaraderie if you are spending the time with others.
• Find 10 minutes each day to sit quietly and think. This might be in your car, in your office, first thing in the morning or before bed, but try to block out all distractions for this 10 minute time. It will help you refocus and rejuvenate.
We all try to do the best we can with work, life and family. However, there is no magic formula for how to balance it all. But assessing all of these areas routinely will likely get you closer. Remember that we are supposed to work to live our lives, not live our lives to work.
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