I have a story to tell you about a friend. This friend started by saying he used to have a normal workday. His job was to manage a State of Missouri training department. Life was easy, lessons were planed and workshop facilitated. About the most difficult thing he had to do was to schedule trainers for upcoming workshops.
He no longer has a job, he’s a business owner. Starting at 8 and ending at 5 is no longer part of his life. He gets to work long before his employees and often ends the day with administrative details and paperwork as the clock strikes midnight.
This friend is like many business owners and senior executives. His schedule is filled from morning to night. Leisure moments are considered a luxury, if they ever happen.
I sometimes hear business owners and senior executives say, “I’m missing my children’s activities, my spouse and I never date any more, I don’t have time for friends, I’m stressed all the time, the last time I took a vacation was four years ago, and my marriage is not doing well.”
Such conversations left me wondering who or what is to blame. Could it be a sign of the times that is causing these time problems or might it be fate? Why is this happening? I have come to the conclusion the problem isn’t a sign of the times, or fate, it’s us.
I believe in hard work. It’s a core value I received from my parents. I grew up believing hard work was a virtue, something that had to be done in order to succeed. How then could such an important core value bring me to the conclusion that we might be the source of our own weaknesses?
Laziness is not a weakness for most business owners and senior executives, taking hard work to the extreme is the weakness. Yes, for most of us our weakness is working to excess (filling every moment with work) rather than working too little.
Here are some ideas I’ve used to help cure this problem.
- Put spouse first. Schedule a date night or a walk with your significant other every week.
- Put children second. Try scheduling breakfast with children, or, if they’re long distance like mine, texting regular with them.
- Find great help. Consider which of your staff members bring great results.
- Don’t make every issue an emergency. Could this be you?
- Do first things first and leave out the others. Try the 80/20 principle – 20% of your responsibilities produce 80% of the result.
- Eat dinner with family even if you must work in the evening.
- Plan for exercise. Yes, it has to be scheduled, but this, too, can be a date night.
I am sharing this newsletter because I’ve seen the results of working to the excess.
Some years ago ( November 28, 2005 issue of Fortune magazine) there was an article, “Get a Life” that discusses this very topic. The article stated that fewer and fewer young business owners and senior executives were willing to wreck their lives by working excessive hours. New core values are being set and new rules for playing the business game are being established. (Sound familiar?)
You can become part of the new trend. How about trying my list for a month and seeing if life doesn’t become a joy again. Let me know how you’re doing.