A Tough Balancing Act

How do you strike the right balance between work life and family life?

QUESTION: Tristan wants to know how to balance work life with family life. This is an excellent question for Dave, who talks about sometimes being out of balance; but not for long.

ANSWER: When you run a small business, you are trying to get something off the ground and it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. You don’t want to be a workaholic or not see your kids for 10 years. But we’ve thrown around this nurturing spirit over our culture so much and being in balance with this and this and this.

The truth is, when I’m training for a marathon, I’m out of balance on other stuff because the physical is taking a lot of me. When I’m launching a business, I’m out of balance on a lot of other stuff because my career is taking a lot of me. When I’m on sabbatical or something, that pulls away from time with my family. There are other times when I’m totally focused on my family and that takes away from other stuff.

This idea that you are perfectly balanced in a given day, week, month or even year is a bunch of crap. You need to be balanced over the scope of your life and have each of these elements in your life at a healthy level. You don’t want to abandon the physical portion or family portion of your life because you work all the time.

I’ve been busy with EntreLeadership this week, working 16-hour days. My family hasn’t gotten a lot of me this week. But a week from now we’re going on a nice cruise for spring break, and they will have my total attention for that week. It’s sort of an ebb and flow, and I don’t know that you do balance it perfectly. If my wife Sharon thinks the kids need more dad time, she’s going to say that.

Sometimes I have people call in who have debt and don’t want to work an extra job because they think they won’t have any time with their kids. That implies you’ll work an extra job for the rest of your life. What if you worked an extra job for three or four months and went crazy cleaning up your debt, so you can then have no debt and some extra money to do something with your kids?

You won’t be perfectly in balance with your life. Just be aware of the different areas of life, be intentional about touching those bases, and at times focusing on different portions of who you are as a person. Don’t work all the time, you can have ebb and flow and give and take in the process.