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April 2015

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5 Important Things To Strike Your Work/Life Balance

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Striking a work/life balance will bring you closer to your family.

 

5 Important Things To Strike Your Work/Life Balance

What does a work/life balance mean to you? Is that balance skewed towards the work side as you spend hours trying to land that big client? Or does your boss spend too much time away from work, sending the balance in the other direction so the business suffers?

 

Last week I wrote about the elements you need to have to train your employees. I started off with an anecdote about how my son had decided he no longer crawls, but walks on his own, a concept that all owners must come to embrace in their employees.

My son’s streak of independence has grown much. Last week while at his aunt and uncle’s, my wife watched him delicately balance on the tips of his toes so he could grab the door handle and yank open the door, no small feat and one he has tried repeatedly to recreate. We’ve been forced to lock him in the house with us using the deadbolt.

A few days later, after getting a new pair of shoes for his first birthday, he decided that he would set out on his own path, traipsing through the bushes away from the group towards what he thought was a much more rewarding goal.

These are sobering moments as we watch our son, once a baby, but no more, grow before our eyes.

But then one afternoon, I had the unfortunate circumstance to attend a memorial for a family friend who had died far before his time. Not even fifty, John was a happy man, one who knew so many people that they were still streaming into the banquet hall as I left and that was half an hour after the official portion of the ceremony had concluded. I will consider myself well respected if half so many people attend my own celebration of life when my time comes.

While I sat with my own thoughts, there was a stream of pictures that played at the head of the room. Eventually a single picture stood out like it was colour in a sea of black and white. The two decade old picture was of John with his once small child nestled in his arms. It was then that I felt the sympathy that only a funeral can elicit. I imagined Remy in my arms then and wondered just for the briefest second how John’s sons felt.

Not yet adults and left without the guidance of a father. Missed days and missed hugs.

That’s one of the reasons why you opened your own business, isn’t it? You’re trying to supply for your own children’s wants, sooth their afflictions, relieve their necessities.

But operating your business can be difficult; finances, employees, and product quality. The stress can mount. At the bank, I had helped John in my own small way to get his business off the ground, to address some of those difficulties. There are other things that can be done however for you and your family to strike a balance between work and life and stay grounded and engaged in your private life.

5 elements to establish a balance between work and private life.

1. Take time for your family

Do you remember the excitement you felt when you decided to open your own business? You did it to create a better life for you and your family. You were going to use the skills you’d learned for your own benefit as opposed to someone else.

At the time you couldn’t have realized how much work there was. The balance is tipped towards work in the beginning.

The responsibility to never forget the reason for your choices is yours however and the best way to accomplish that is schedule time for your family. Take your husband out on a date and your kids to the park. When your son Billy calls because he scraped his knees then answer him.
Never lose sight of why you do what you do. Draw that balance back towards your family.

Admittedly though, we are all adults and understand time constraints. New evidence shows that the quality of your time is more important than the quantity. We know your time is short.

Make it count.

 

2. Make sure your off time is off

Sometimes you do things for your family and sometimes you do things for yourself. Long term, taking time for yourself benefits your family as much as you. A happier you at work, makes a happier you at home. That balance levels back out towards your personal life.

You know the feeling you get when you go on vacation. If you haven’t been called while you’re off then it takes about a week to wind down so you can actually enjoy yourself during your second week. Never enough time.

Speaking of phone calls. If you can’t turn off your phone, then at least set is aside for a period every night. Don’t check your social media feeds or whether the delivery for the widgets will arrive on time. Accept that things will happen and that your people know your wishes because you have informed them, either through informal terms or a formal business plan.

When you take time for yourself, the balance is established so you won’t be taking your work home with you. When you don’t take your work home, you are more engaged in your family.

3. Critical illness and disability insurance

Deep breath.

I have a long term complication with my hip, one leg shorter than the other. When I had the opportunity to join a group insurance plan it became obvious that I would be immediately declined should any issue arise. It was an eye opening experience to know that the issue I have would be the most likely cause of any long term disability that I might endure. In fact there was and is a LIKELIHOOD that I will develop something long term.

Unfortunately, in a case where a business owner is injured, regardless of the cause, they don’t have a passive income to rely on. Unless, they have some form of insurance This is especially true if you work alone with no back up. Conversely, if you have a primary employee, it could be a great advantage not only to have them covered for long term benefits, but to you so you can replace them during their healing period.

Dealing with an injury or critical illness is hard enough. You have to heal. And you can’t do that if you are constantly being drawn back to work to deal with issues large or small. That balance skews back towards work.

4. Life insurance

Disability insurance is selfish. It’s about you getting something, paid, healed, what have you. Life insurance has a twofold effect. On the surface, it is designed to take care of your loved ones if anything happens to you. I know, I know. You don’t want to speak about it. No one does. But trust me. Speaking about it now is better than later when it’s too late.

Cover your family off so if something does happen they can deal with their own sorrow. Allow them to establish a balance and don’t force them to keep the business going when all they want to do is quit themselves.

An interesting thing happens when people feel protected. As Maslow said in his famous theory, with the need for security fulfilled we establish that balance so we can go on to other needs. Knowing that your family is covered in such a case will remove your worry so you can return home at night and be present, be alive.

5. Make a plan

Don’t live your life in fear. Take control and create a comprehensive plan to address these issues so you don’t have to worry when an event is triggered. Create that balance for yourself and for your family.

A plan will enable your people, family and employees alike, to make the decisions regardless of difficulty, knowing that they will be doing what you want. They won’t stray from the balance you have established so when you return, whether it’s from vacation or long term disability, you will be closer to the goals you’ve made and not theirs.

 

Striking that work/life balance isn’t easy, but being aware of these elements is half your battle. Draw People to you that you can trust. Ask your mentor or your neighbour what they would do to create that balance. Ask them who they would go to for insurance. I can give you a shortlist, but unless you’re in Kingston it likely won’t do you any good. You need to trust your agent, look them in the eye and know that when they are needed they are going to be there.

You can’t help but shed a tear when you slow down long enough to reminisce about someone when they pass away. Are you a good person? What legacy are you leaving? Will your son remember you as the guy who hugged him every night before he fell asleep or just the guy who wiped his snotty nose?

It’s too bad that it takes a man dying for most of us to reflect back on our own lives. But for you it doesn’t have to happen this way. Takes this as your trigger. Spend time with your sons and your daughters. Spend time with your wives and your husbands. Put plans in place for the bad times so they don’t become worse. Strike that balance now so you never have to question it later.

I am going to go hug my son right now. He’s just turned one you know. He doesn’t know that trying to open the door pains me as I envision him running away from me. For as long as I can protect him I will do so, so he doesn’t have to worry about the world like I do for him.