Know When to Slam on the Brakes

Posted by Todd Smith

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As we all prepare for this holiday weekend, I want to share two bits of advice to my career-minded readers.

As all you regular readers know, I have been an entrepreneur for 29 years.  During my early years, I did not recognize the importance of finding balance between my career and family life.  My desire to reach my goals was so powerful I worked 70+ hours a week.  My relationships deteriorated, my marriage struggled, and my hair fell out.

As if those issues weren’t enough reasons to stop overworking, there were more.  I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t enjoying the journey.  Of course, the thrill that came from achieving my goals felt great, but that was short lived.

Take Sundays Off

As my career progressed I made it a priority to take Sundays off.  I had always taken Sunday mornings off to go to church, but I often found myself working Sunday afternoons and evenings.

Sundays became the day when I would focus exclusively on my family, having fun and recharging my batteries. This decision increased my productivity because I felt sharper and more refreshed during the other six days.  It improved my relationship with my wife and children, and it allowed me to better enjoy my journey.

One of the main reasons why Sundays are the best days to take off, beyond its Biblical significance, is that it is the one day when most people don’t expect you to be working. It’s the one day a week that most of us can go without responding to emails, text messages, phone calls, and other work-related business.  We can fully shut down.

So my first word of advice is to take Sundays off.  If your chosen career does not allow you to take Sundays off, then find another day each week to relax, refresh, and spend time with the people important to you.

Take Holiday Weekends Off

This leads me into my second word of advice. Take holiday weekends off.  Not only are these the best times to spend with those who are important to you but, like Sundays, they are times when people aren’t expecting you to be working. Holiday weekends are the few times each year when you can take off more than two days without having to be available to clients, business colleagues, and co-workers.

I used to work through holiday weekends thinking, “While everyone else is resting, I am going gain market share.” My mind was programmed to attack when my competitors were relaxing.  While I still think this way, it is not as extreme.

With my wife’s strong encouragement, I started taking off holiday weekends.  By relaxing and enjoying time with my family over these extended weekends, it not only enhanced my relationships and brought more enjoyment into my life, but it also recharged my batteries and my work productivity improved.

Through my journey, I have learned that I must take time off and that the best time to do that is when everyone else is taking time off.  While one could argue I am giving up market share, and I might be, it’s okay. I’m willing to give up a little market share in order to enjoy my life better.

Recharge Your Battery

Just like the Energizer Bunny, if you want to keep on going, your battery must be fully charged and the best way to maintain optimal power is to recharge it by taking time off regularly. When you are fully charged you will be able to tackle tough assignments with all the energy, stamina, and the mental focus you need.

We all need sufficient down-time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation; time to play with family and friends; time to love and laugh and live.

Find the Balance for You

Now with all this said, I feel I must make it clear as I did in 10 Tips for Balancing Your Career and Family that working 40 hours a week is the break-even point.  In today’s world it is virtually impossible to get ahead financially working only 40 hours a week.

The key for each of us is finding the right balance between work and play. I have found that the right balance for me is working 50-55 hours a week.  This allows me to pursue my goals while at the same time enjoy my journey.

So, let me encourage you to slam on the brakes tonight after work and enjoy your weekend.

Establishing harmony between family and career doesn’t mean sharing time equally; it means finding the right balance between pursuing your career and enjoying the journey.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.


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