Trying to Fit it All In
COMMON QUESTIONS OF PEOPLE TRYING TO FIT WORK INTO LIFE:
- “Is it even possible to have an enjoyable personal life if I want to have a successful career?”
- “Is it true that out of five categories to choose from: work, sleep, family, fitness and friends, you’re supposed to pick three of those five categories to do that day?”
- “Is it normal to now resent all my single friends, especially when they complain about being so busy, while I’m back on my laptop at 11pm after helping my son make a robot for school tomorrow?”
- “What if I really like more work in my life than all the other elements? Does that make me a monster?”
- “Work-life balance. What does that even mean?”
- “I’m an entrepreneur, so is fitting it all in even an option?”
How do I achieve that elusive balance between the work I love and the rest of my life (which already feels full)?
Looking for help to prioritize what matters most in order to succeed at both work and life; wanting to master time-management amidst his demanding work and family schedules (with a wife and two young kids).
Assistant General Manager of a busy restaurant an hour away from home; recently promoted after three years at his location and 12 years in his company.
COACH’S NOTES ON KWAN:
- Kwan knew something had to give in his life after his five year-old daughter told her teacher that her Dad lived at the restaurant where he worked. His doctor had just prescribed medication for high blood pressure which he was reluctant to take, although he knew he had to decrease his stress and increase his activity. He felt like his relationships were in a state of peril and he took responsibility for his role in not being available.
- Kwan started his 6-month Happy Spectacular program with a stated desire to “master time-management”, so our first step in our Deep-Discovery phase was to clearly define what that meant. Kwan was tasked with elaborately describing what a Month of Time-Management Mastery would look like, using a large desk-sized calendar for visual effect. This exercise had him second-guessing his definition of mastery and had him analyzing what truly mattered in his life, given that he couldn’t possibly fit all of his obligations and interests into a finite block of time. The relief of not having to do the impossible lifted a burden of guilt off his shoulders and fueled the rest of our Discovery process.
- We assessed his passions, his purpose in life, and his values, many of which were pitted at odds against one another: both his family time and achievement at work were supremely important to him yet required distinct and separate time segments. Kwan’s clarity on the exact elements of his professional life that mattered to him – to mentor and develop others – influenced his thoughts on his career path. Kwan participated in a This Was Your Life exercise, a retrospective of his life at his imaginary funeral at 95. He wrote his obituary, visited a cemetery, and reflected on the most common regrets that the dying typically experience. This helped him cut through the clutter of meaningless tasks and helped him rank-order his most important priorities.
- After covering the foundational basics of understanding what he both needed and wanted, Kwan moved into the Design phase of his Happy Spectacular program, which initially consisted of clearly identifying his priorities, scheduling with discipline, and setting non-negotiable boundaries. His action plan was in place to practice a month of living the life he’d imagined.
- Since so much of Kwan’s program involved establishing and reinforcing the habit of priority-based scheduling, his elongated program allowed us to debrief regularly over his successes, failures, and plan redesigns. For example, he planned to take his son to his speech therapy appointments one afternoon each week, but was thwarted by traffic at that time of day. He relieved himself of that obligation and picked up a different way to spend time with his son.
- Kwan’s health made it to the top three of his life priority list, and it was a completely new paradigm for him to add time in for himself into his full week. He struggled to adhere to the walking and swimming dates he set in his calendar, deeming them frivolous and selfish when he could be with his kids or helping drive results at work instead. A perspective shift helped him see the harm in not sticking to his wellness plan, especially after imagining the This Was Your Life exercise with his funeral at the age of 50. He also saw the value of leading a healthy example for his kids, and started bringing them to his gym child care center while he swam every 10 days or so.
- Kwan made some very specific goals during our 6-month program together, and managed to build healthy habits and reasonable expectations into his scheduling practice. He’s now armed with his Happy Spectacular Work + Life Plan which reminds him of his hard-and-fast rules to live by (like date night every Thursday, which would mean not helping his GM with her frequent requests for him to stay past 5pm).