By Marc Koehler“Where were you again?” my ten-year-old daughter asked me as I slipped into the house late that evening.
I utter, “I am sorry I missed your soccer game. Mom said you scored a goal. Great job! Tell me about it.”
She is not buying it this time. “I shouldn’t have to tell you about it. You were supposed to be there, Dad. You promised me you would be there.”
I respond by saying, “I know, but …”
She has heard, “I know, but …” from me so many times that she sarcastically finishes my sentence “a very important customer called and needed to talk about our proposal. Was that it, Dad?”
Tears stream from her eyes as she scurried upstairs to her room. I removed the aluminum foil from the cold dinner plate and sat alone eating while reviewing my day.
At 5:20 a.m. I started sifting through a mountain of emails while adding tasks to a list of eighteen left over from yesterday. My three children woke up, and I helped my wife ready them for school. Driving to work, I learned that my biggest customer was going bankrupt and my top manager had another job offer. The Internet was down. I was ten minutes late to my dentist appointment. My dad’s cancer was back. I had to call the bank and dip into line of credit to make payroll.
The stress of the day was real.
I’ve been married ten years and have three daughters ages eight, six, and four. It is 2005, and I am an interim CEO helping turn around three struggling businesses. I have a crammed schedule and mounting obligations.
While I verbally state that family is most important, my actions clearly tell a different story – work comes first. I have no boundaries on personal and family time and take phone calls while at a youth volleyball game or back to school night. I am 35 pounds overweight, work 14-hour days, and haven’t been to church in seven months. I remember sitting there that evening, wondering …
- How did life get so chaotic and stressful?
- Is this the life I was meant to live?
- Why does “having it all” feel exhausting?
- How will I keep this up?
I snap back into “push through” mode. I finish eating alone (again) and reheat a fifth cup of coffee, which powers me late into the evening attached to my laptop.
Does this sound like you? Are you feeling overwhelmed trying to manage everything on your plate? Do you end your day completely exhausted? Is work always cutting into your personal and family time?
Well, you are not alone. According to a study published by the American Sociological Review, 70% of people are struggling to find any type of work-life balance.
You might be wondering, “Does work/life balance exist or is it like looking for a unicorn?” I am here to tell you it does, but it isn’t going to happen by accident. You have to take control and orchestrate harmony and balance in your life by working at it every … single … day.
With change being the dominant fact of life, when we do achieve any type of harmony and balance, it typically doesn’t last long. Being constantly connected to the dynamically changing world has made it nearly impossible to have harmony and balance for any extended period of time.
Often, I hear people say that we just need to get better at time management. Frankly, a new approach and perspective is needed. It is not about time management anymore. We are all gifted the same 24 hours every day that we can’t store or refuse to use.
Today, the discussion needs to change from time management to choice management. What choices are we intentionally making every day of where and how do we allocate our time?
Most of us pack our days full of activities that have us moving full speed ahead with our hair on fire. We overcommit ourselves with a never-ending task list and mistakenly equate a productive day with the quantity of boxes checked or incoming emails, texts, and friend requests answered.
So, it isn’t about how many things we do. It is about how much progress we make on things that matter the most. By understanding that not all uses of time are equal, we can choose to be intentional and allocate more time to what is most important and have an overall bigger impact.
CHALLENGES WE FACE
There are three big challenges that we all face. Knowing these will help us to take the first steps to achieving more harmony and balance in our lives.
First, technology has us connected to a sea of infinity that we have to navigate every day. A UCSD Study revealed that daily the average person consumes 34GB of data and spends more than six hours looking at screens.
Second is the Amazon’ization of our world. Everyone is having experiences where whatever we want is always in stock, it comes overnight, and someone else pays for the return shipping if we don’t like what we ordered. This increased expectation and shortened service timeframe is causing havoc for businesses as they try to keep up.
Third is the changing leadership roles that come up in life. Let me share with you my experiences. For a ten-year period after college, it didn’t matter how many hours I worked because I had no competing responsibilities. Then in 1995 and 1997, I had two very important leadership roles added to my life (husband and father). Looking back now, I see how ill prepared I really was to be the best I could be. I also see how not being more intentional with my time and actions and setting up healthy work life boundaries put undue stress on my family and me.
THE ONE PAGE SOLUTION
The day after missing the soccer game I decided that if I didn’t do something different that I was going to be consumed by these three life challenges and continue to get the same frustrating results.
I started analyzing the business tools that helped me be a successful turnaround CEO and create strong teams. The first was a One Page Alignment Plan which showed every employee how what they were doing was connected to something bigger than themselves. I also saw how there was a defined set of best practices that helped us to execute with discipline.
It became clear that while I used specific tools and best practices to create success in business, for my family I was almost “winging it” and leaving my family dynamics to simply unfold on their own.
With nothing to lose, I decided to create with my family a One Page Family Plan. It turned out that the family mission and set of family values we crafted together were key in helping us to get really clear about what was most important in our family.
My wife and I then researched and found a set of personal, marriage, and parenting best practices that helped us to manage the ever-increasing speed of life and execute it with more discipline and intention at home.
After one year, I came to the conclusion that the business tools and best practices that helped me reach my full potential as a business leader also helped me create a stronger marriage and become a better parent.
This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but putting structure in place and following a process helped me to take back control of my family life to create more sustainable and predictable results.
It is the same for you. As the CEO of your family, you shouldn’t leave the success of your family to chance. A One Page Family Plan will help you put your own structure in place and provide the leadership and direction your family needs to thrive.
The choice is yours. You can continue to feel overwhelmed trying to juggle all of your life’s responsibilities or you can tap into a One Page Family Plan to help you get clear about what it means to be a member of your family, uphold your family name, and form the best habits.
By building intention into your family’s interactions and shared vision for the future, you bring every member onto the same page and give them the tools they need to make better choices to stay focused on what matters most and strengthen your family bonds.
Please visit family.leadwithpurpose.com to create your own One Page Family Plan. To join our Facebook group, go to www.facebook.com/
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Marc Koehler is the President & CEO of Lead With Purpose, a company dedicated to helping people lead more purposeful and inspiring lives. The company provides leaders with simple and powerful tools and best practices that help get everyone on the same page and rowing in the same direction. Lead With Purpose was forged out of Marc’s experience as an Officer in the US Nuclear Submarine Force & time as an Interim CEO/COO. Over the ten years he was an Interim CEO/COO, Marc personally experienced the leadership challenges business owners face. Marc is the author of Leading With Purpose, an award winning book which steps leaders and their team through the creation of a single page business success plan and then shows them how to execute their plan to collectively drive success, solve problems, and manage change. Marc has four-year degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering and is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Marc and Heidi, his wife of 20 years, live in San Diego, California with their daughters Anja (21), Liesel (19), and Sophie (17). Marc enjoys spending time with his family at the beach and on the soccer field.