Do you work to live or live to work?

How many dinners or bedtimes have you missed, how many evening have you watched your kids score goals through your partner’s text message instead of being there? When was the last time you left work on time and didn’t open up your phone or computer until the following morning? How many times have you said “We’ll take that trip next year”?
We work to live, right? Meaning we work to make money so that we can live some more. The truth is that we do not need to work 80 plus hours a week to make more money. Because ultimately, money cannot buy you time. Money cannot buy you love. And money cannot buy back the magic moments you are missing out on working all the time.

Monday to Friday are work days for most people. Saturday is definitely not a work day and Sundays? As entrepreneurs we sometimes are guilty of trying to set our week up no fault there, especially if you are balancing your personal life reasonably well.  Just remember one thing: It’s impossible to be a good Dad or Mom or partner and work 24/7.

Email, text messaging, iPhones, and Blackberries keep us tethered to the office even when we’re technically “off-duty”. How can you keep up with your always-on career and still find time to manage your responsibilities at home, spend time with your family, have social life, and just plain relax? At risk are your personal relationships, your health and even your sanity. Stress kills. Everyone needs downtime doesn’t matter who you are.

I read a great analogy it goes something like this: A Professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the Professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The Professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.” The Professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the space between the grains of sand.

Our Life is just like this Jar

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else -the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. “Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.” One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The Professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

So the moral of this blog is No matter how much you love your job, no matter how big a part of your life it is, ultimately you need to be able to “turn it off” to recharge, refresh. This is hard for a lot of people, because their work is their passion – me included. While this is admirable, always working can be detrimental in the long as your loved ones will get tired of playing second fiddle to your work all the time. Your kids will grow up and you won’t be able to get those moments back. #regret

Understand what really matters. Time after all is the most valuable commodity in life. It is the one thing you cannot buy more of. So, don’t waste it. Focus on what really matters. What really moves the needle forward? Are prioritizing your days or just wasting time? Observe how long it takes you to do a specific task and take note of it.  Make sure to track only the important ones and to leave out any task that doesn’t contribute to your productivity. Tasks are tasks and as minial as they are they still need to get done. In those cases, OUTSOURCE.
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