Life Outside of Work
Do you invest more of yourself into your job or your family?
I think most of us would like to say our families. After all, the people that mean the most to us should also be the ones we give the best of ourselves to, right?
The average American spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.
That’s a lot of time. If you think about it, we spend over half of our waking hours either commuting to/from work or working on a regular basis.
That’s why it gets tricky when asked what we invest more of ourselves to. When it comes down to it, it’s hard to work eight hours a day and come home fully energized and ready to give the best of ourselves to our loved ones. Notice, I said hard, not impossible.
Luckily, our two options aren’t limited to only work or only time with our families. Life is meant to consist of balance and hard work, and if we do it right, we can combine our work and home lives for a more fulfilling existence, for ourselves and for the people around us.
The process of balancing your work and home life inevitably comes down to your individual mindset and decisions. Making time for the people around you, means understanding yourself and your own personal limits.
Now let’s talk about the comparison trap for a second. Because many of us look at our fellow employees and think to ourselves, “well, I’m not as successful as them, so I guess I need to work harder.” And yes, sometimes that is true, but oftentimes, our jealousy or insecurities blind us from the quality of work we are already putting in.
This idea works the other way as well. If we lead a group of people and decide to work ourselves to the point of exhaustion, the people working for us will never know the importance of self care, because they will be continually striving to keep up.
When we begin to compare ourselves to others, we substitute what’s best for them for what is truly best for ourselves.
Self care should be a priority in our daily lives. Plan for it, prepare for it, understand when you do and don’t need it.
Family, friends, health, fitness, faith, sleep, down time, this list goes on. Whatever self care looks like for you, invest your time in deciding what will make you the most effective parent, friend, coworker, and human being you can be.
If we aren’t careful, we’ll spend our lives giving our all to our business and leaving whatever energy we have left over for our families.
My friend Jim Cavale challenged me with this idea a few weeks ago. He talked about the ways in which his family influences him as a businessman, instead of his business influencing him as a family man.
Many of us live two lives: one from 9-5 and another that happens in the remaining hours. This second life tends to consist of the overflow energy level that’s often expended in our first life at work.
It can be easy to live one life at work and a completely separate life at home, but in reality, the two are always interconnected. Our home life often affects our performance at work, and too many of us take work home from the office, both physically and mentally.
In order to be fully present for the people we love, we have to plan just as meticulously for what we do outside or work as we do for work itself.
Now this might come easier to some than others. I tend to not be great at sticking to a schedule or routine, so this concept is a bit of a challenge. But the importance of this concept makes it clear that I must be intentional to create time for the people that matter most to me.
Being cognizant of our time on a daily basis, gives us the ability to have a greater impact both in our families and in our communities. How much time do we waste regularly by coming home and watching TV or scrolling through our phones? While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with down time, if this becomes a regular habit, we lose the ability to impact anyone but ourselves.
Understanding how much time we have gives us the opportunity to reinvest our time in impactful ways.
I like to say that life can be broken down into three categories: energy, community, and connection. While this applies to the workplace, it also applies to other parts of our lives that need these three components to be successful. When I think about my own relationships, these three elements make up so much of what I value and desire from those closest to me.
Energy to give as much of myself when I’m off the job as when I’m at work. Community with the people around me. And meaningful connection that makes not only my own life better but the lives of those around me better as well.
When these three elements work together effectively, our impact will go far beyond what we do for a living and become part of who we are as a person.
Now this is by no means written in an effort to discourage hard work or commitment to your job. That should be one of our priorities. But many times we aren’t aware of just how much we are investing in our jobs and involuntarily
In 2018, 768 million vacation days went unused in America. That’s millions of days that were spent working instead of invested in family or the community or even self care.
If we begin to prioritize what matters most in our own lives, we just might find that the people around us will be encouraged to do that as well.
For more on this topic, including my entire interview with Jim Cavale, check out the Created for Experience podcast – Rationally Approaching Failure with Jim Cavale.