I recently co-hosted a LIVEcast with my business partner, Nick Sarnicola and some questions that came our way were on the topic of balancing life as entrepreneurs and dads. It was an especially timely subject since my four-month-old daughter at the time had kept me up most of the night before.
I’m sure any working parent would tell you, creating (and maintaining!) work-life balance is not without its hiccups and challenges. And, what does the ideal work-life balance look like anyway? I think “balance” is different for everybody. Sometimes, it’s 50/50; other times, it’s 20/80. For most, though, I suspect that balance is on a perpetually sliding scale.
As both the President of two global lifestyle brands I co-founded, and a father of two young children—an energetic three-year-old, Greyson and a new beautiful baby girl, Saydee—I can tell you that life is pretty busy around my home. Just as running companies, growing brands and achieving goals are very important to me, family is even more important. So, I’ve had to learn how to prioritize it all and give time and attention to each.
For any other career Dads out there who find themselves in a similar struggle, here’s a few tips that have helped me.
STEP 1: Define Your Priorities
What’s most important in your life? Is your family a priority? Health? Faith? Are they greater than your career success, title, or bank account?
All of these are valid. And yet, a lot of the time we feel guilty about where we’re spending our time. If we make work a priority, for example, we think it means we haven’t prioritized family. Look at your priorities from a holistic perspective. Family. Health. Work. Faith. They all matter, so don’t feel guilty if they’re all on your priority list. I set personal goals across many categories. So, when I’m connecting with my family, it doesn’t mean I’m not working on my goals; it’s just pursuing a goal in another category.
Once you are clear on your overall personal priorities, the next step is to make sure you’re focused on each.
STEP 2: Control Your Calendar
I’m a big fan of a calendar and intentionally blocking out time for each priority. I’ve found a common trend in today’s world is that everybody has a full calendar. So, the question is not is your calendar full; rather, the question is: Who and what are filling it?
I say put everything you want to put time into, in your calendar. Schedule play time. Schedule date night. Schedule focused work time. Block out ‘me time.’
How many times have you said things like?
- I’ll get around to doing that
- I’ll do that later when I have time
- I just don’t have the time to work out like I want to…
But that time never came… Why? Because that time was not deliberately set aside for follow through.
In one of my private sessions with my longtime mentor and friend, John C. Maxwell, he said something along the lines of that your calendar is always going to be full—it’s just a question of who is filling it. So, if your calendar is going to get filled with something, make sure you’re the one who is filling it with the things that matter most.
STEP 3: Be Present.
Wherever you are, be there— physically, mentally and emotionally. In today’s world, it takes a conscious choice to be present. If you schedule time to be with your son, be with your son. If you schedule time to do work, do work. If that means putting away the phone or changing environments, do so.
I think a lot of people struggle with this conflict when they’re spending time at work but getting interrupted by kids. But when they’re with their kids, they’re thinking of all the things they need to do for work. So, they’re actually never ‘there’ where they actually are.
When you’re scheduled to be ‘there,’ be there. If you’re going to do an hour of work, focus on that work. If you’ve set aside an hour with the kids, spend that time with them. Don’t try to multi-task it all. It’s not about having enough time; it’s about ‘making’ the time you have count.
P.S. There’s a lot of career dads today fighting the work-life struggle thing. Share this article with a working parent who inspires you or needs to hear this message.
About the Author: Blake Mallen is a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, Investor, Millennial Influencer, and the Co-Founder & President of two global lifestyle brands. Blake has been featured in industry publications as well as speaks at national conferences, TEDx Talk forums, and international events on the topics of social marketing, brand building, organizational culture, entrepreneurship, leadership and personal growth. Connect with Blake at @blakemallen.