I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately … some from my video library, others from Redbox, still others from my DirecTV feed. And I must admit, I’m sort of a romantic junkie. I watch a lot of Hallmark productions, and I’m hooked on Chesapeake Shores.
But I noticed a lot of the movies I’ve been watching lately are centered on balance — home, family, work. It’s an ever-present conflict in our daily lives. Speaking from experience, I know balance is a very real minefield. I mean, who of us hasn’t had to choose between that meeting or a family event, that business trip scheduled the same week as your child’s recital, working late to catch up at family time expense.
I will be the first to admit it, I have been guilty — too many times. In fact, I was late so many times, my wife used to tell me dinner was at 5 so there was a reasonable expectation I would make it home when the food was plated at 7.
Looking in the rear view mirror, that was one of my biggest shortcomings. I love my family, but there was always “one more thing” I had to do before turning off the lights in the office.
I don’t have a solution — let me know if you do — but I think we should strive to make our families first. Sure, there will be times when it just doesn’t work out, but if the premise is family first with work an exception rather than vice versa, I think many of the ills, pressures and expectations will diminish. It’s a cliche — one I learned much too late — but we have to learn how to leave the problems of the day at the doorstep. When you walk through the door, it’s all about family.
Again through the rear view window, my most productive work years were built on family first principles. I know I never would have gotten that job and career opportunity in Illinois had I not turned down a position for editor six months earlier to remain with my wife for the birth of our middle son instead of jetting off for an interview. I know during transitional periods from Illinois to Ohio, Ohio to Washington, DC, and Washington, DC to upstate New York would not have worked had I not scheduled weekends back home. I was more productive and energized following those visits.
From a management perspective, it makes a lot of sense as well. Just as family life often affects work, so too does work life affect family. It becomes a vicious cycle — with both family and work suffering.
Work is work. It’s purpose is to provide income … for the family. But when it overtakes your priorities it does just the opposite … destroys the family. I think it’s time to bring balance back into our lives.
As an aside and having nothing to do with this post, was a scene and line from one of those flicks, Sweet Home Carolina. To set the stage, a struggling single mom inherits a home in South Carolina shortly after being told to “take some time … a vacation” because those family pressures were interfering with her work as an ad executive in Los Angeles. Of course, her work and long hours were very much a part of the family problems. But the storyline wasn’t the highlight of the film for me.
The day Diane received her notice to “take some time … a vacation” she goes home — late, as usual — and is greeted by her older, defiant teenage daughter who immediately starts complaining about … everything. Her final snarky remark was “what’s for dinner?” Diane goes to the freezer and plops down a frozen dinner on the counter. “Again?” To which Diane says the line of the year — “Yeah. I want to give you something to share with your analyst when you get older.”
I don’t know, I chuckled at that line for the rest of the movie.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to.” — Lao Tzu