Posted by Todd Smith
While I have been far from the perfect husband or father, I have always been a great believer of leading a balanced life. I take pride in being a successful entrepreneur as well as being a family man. Married to my high school sweetheart for 25 years, together we have raised and home-schooled four remarkable children, ranging in age from 15-23.
I realize there are components to living a happy and successful life beyond your family and career, but finding the right balance between these two is where most people struggle. I’ve learned first hand, if the proper balance between your family and career is not achieved, every part of your life will likely suffer from the consequences.
For those of you who are high achievers, it is absolutely critical that you maintain the appropriate balance in your life. If you neglect to invest time in your relationships with your spouse and children while in pursuit of your career goals, you will likely regret it during the later years of your life.
For those of you who are spouses of high achievers, just know that 40 hours a week is break even in life. If you want to have the nice things life can offer and enjoy a better than average quality of life, there are sacrifices you must make. If you aren’t making these compromises, be careful. I have never seen a marriage last when someone’s spouse is holding him or her back. Have you?
My Top 10 Tips For Enjoying a Successful Career, Marriage and Family Life
1. Set Your Family and Business Goals—I believe the first step to achieving anything important is to begin by identifying your goals. If you have not already done so, pull out a pad of paper and write down your career, marriage and family goals.
2. Get The Support From Your Spouse—The only way you are going to achieve these goals is with the support of your spouse. Just as it would be unwise to think you can build a successful business without the support of your business partner, you won’t build a successful marriage, family life and career without the support of your spouse.
3. Create Blocks of Time For Work and Family—One of the first things my wife and I did when we got married was to put together a work and family schedule. What started out 25 years ago as a simple schedule where we blocked out time for my career and for us to be together has transitioned to a plan for our entire family. We delineate blocks of time to spend time with each of the children and together as a family. This one tip has made a HUGE difference in my life.
4. Review Schedule with Family—After you and your spouse have negotiated the blocks of time you will allocate for your career, spend together and be with your children, then review the schedule with your children and get their buy-in. After you have discussed the schedule, establish the boundaries highlighted in the next three tips.
5. Make Sure Your Work Time is Respected—During the blocks of time you have allocated to work, you are not to be interrupted unless there is important reason. Of course, there will be exceptions when either your spouse or kids need to talk to you about something, but you must make those times the exceptions and not the norm.
6. Don’t Conduct Business During Family Time—This means not doing ANYTHING work related during family time. I respect and value my family time and therefore I rarely schedule calls or appointments during this time. My phone seldom rings during family time because everyone knows when I am with my family, I don’t answer my phone or respond to messages. I’ve set boundaries and people I associate with on a regular basis respect those boundaries.
7. Make Your Family Time, Family Time For Everyone—No texts, no emails, no phone calls! This applies to you and your family members. Make your family time a sacred time that is valued by everyone.
8. Be Present—When you are with your family, try to stop thinking about everything going on in your life and focus on your family. Resist the temptation to talk about your work and instead concentrate on topics of interest to your family. Use your time together to ask questions and discuss what is going on in their lives.
9. Dates with Kids—If you have children, let me encourage you to block out times to spend time with them on an individual basis. There is no better way to connect with someone than one-to-one. Whether it’s a bike ride, a one night camping trip, playing dolls, a cup of tea or whatever it is they enjoy doing, block out time each week to spend with each of your children.
10. Weekly Date With Spouse—This is the number one marriage tip I give to newlyweds. Every week for the past 25 years with a rare exception, my wife and I have a date. Our dates may be dinner at our favorite restaurant, a boat ride or a campfire on the beach cooking hot dogs. The key for us is blocking out time where we can focus on each other without any distractions. This allows us to catch up on everything going on in our lives and to show our love to each other.
I want to challenge you to take steps to improve the balance between the time spent pursuing your career, building your marriage and pouring into your children’s lives. Print out this lesson and discuss it with your spouse. I am convinced if you will implement these 10 tips, you will live a happier, more successful and fulfilling life.
Your example is what your children will remember when they have a family.
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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