Balancing Life and Work

We hear these words tossed around a lot when it comes to making career decisions. Whether it’s making a move this way, or that, we have to consider the impact on ourselves, our families, and our bottom line.

Scraping the surface

What does your financial situation look like?

Simply put, we need money to survive. The minimum requirements for life have to be funded somehow, unless you’re still a hunter-gatherer and live off-grid [but, I don’t think anyone reading this lives off grid].

If struggling with money is something you typically contend with, then you might want to sacrifice a few hours of free time per week by doing overtime at work (if it’s an option).

Personally, I don’t like to struggle with money, but I really enjoy my own personal time.

As you can imagine, this puts me in a difficult dichotomy a lot of the time.

Ultimately, if my family is not impacted greatly, I’ll opt for working a little extra to make the bills seem smaller.

What is your family situation?

Do you struggle to relate to your kids? If you’re nodding to that question, then maybe you should stop reading this post, and spend the time trying to do something with them they enjoy.

Be consistent, and show up. The most convenient way that I have found to do this is by eating dinner with my family every single night [no matter what].

If your calendar does not allow that kind of regularity, then you should identify a time period that you can consistently devote toward “family time”. Even 20 minutes per day is better than zero.

If you’re single, or in a relationship without kids, you’ll have a lot more mobility than someone in my situation. 

Juggling two small children, a spouse, a job, personal time, and chores at home, you’re looking at a potential overload if care is not taken to actively manage your time.

Dig a bit deeper now

Your career should matter to you

I’m not talking about your job; I’m not even talking about the job that you’ve been at for the last 5 years, or that you have a college degree for. 

When I say career, I mean your overall work history, what you have done over the entire course of your life up until this precise moment.

You have built a professional reputation for skills and competencies that have been gained in one area or many.

What you do with your time makes a difference in at least one life… YOURS.

Spending a chunk of your career doing something that does not suit you is very common, because not many people fall right into their dream job without trying a few different things.

If you did find your dream job first, that’s fantastic!

Honestly, starting a new job is challenging in many ways. For better or worse, how you handle it shows your true character.

Making the decision to work in a field or environment for an extended period of time is a personal decision and has to be weighed by considering the type of life you want to have.

The ideal life of buying a brand new Mercedes every year is not going to be achieved by loafing around your house, munching on Cheetos and working a part-time, minimum wage job three days per week…

…Unless you’re some type of genius prodigy, in which case, please share your secrets with the rest of us!

Your family should matter to you

The people who you surround yourself with are family. That doesn’t mean they’re related to you, and they don’t have to be in order to understand you and care about you.

Be truthful here, and think about your current job. If you were to retire tomorrow, would they replace you?

If the answer is yes, then look at your priorities. Do you put the needs of your job before the needs of your family? Perhaps some modulation (adjustment) is necessary, and you’re in control.

The time spent with the people you care about (and who care about you) has a value, just as the time you spend working for an employer has a value too [but they’re measured at a different currency].

You can’t buy more time, and you can’t earn more time.

It’s one of those things that you literally cannot stop spending no matter how much you try, no matter how rich you become.

Monitor the quality of the time you’re spending on each activity, and how it translates into your own personal happiness. By doing this, you can develop a battle plan for life.

Now, get some balance

Ultimately, the only person who can make decisions for you is the person you see in the mirror every day.

The best way to build a “balance” is going to be through discipline and structure.

Some things you can do:

  • Create a schedule for the week. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same every single day, but a solid routine will get the best results, in my experience.
  • Wake up early. Use this time to focus on your own personal development. Read, write, exercise, and develop yourself to grow.
  • Optimize the time you spend at home. Right now, you might feel guilty while at work, thinking “I’m always working, I don’t get enough time with my family”. Up the quality of the time, and it will be more manageable).
  • Keep promises to yourself. This is the only way to build self-confidence; if your confidence is low, it’s because you don’t keep the promises to yourself. Higher confidence = better performance in life.
  • Be aware of the time. This doesn’t mean stare at the clock in an effort to “slow down time”, but rather to make you aware and keep you on your schedule to maximize productivity at home and at work.

There are many many small adjustments we can make in life to improve the balance between the areas that matter most.

So, sit down with yourself, evaluate your situation and come up with an action plan for your personal needs. Don’t just float through life on a whim, complaining about this or that.

Create your own future, and take control of your life. Maybe we don’t always get to do what’s ideal in our minds, but we can certainly make the best of our situation.

Happiness isn’t a magical feeling that is cast into us, it’s something that we must WORK to create and maintain every single day.

I recommend making a goal to read at least 4 books per year. If you’re looking to improve yourself personally, there’s no better resource than retired Navy SEAL and author, Jocko Willink.

The three book recommendations below are all clickable, and will bring you Amazon if you want to look at their reviews, and pick one up for yourself.

“If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward” – Mikhail Gorbachev

This literally means that there is no such thing as standing still. You’re either improving, growing, and progressing, or you’re falling behind.

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