If you can’t make time for your family, for your children, then you may want to review whatever you are doing in and with your Life. Believe me, nothing else is more important!
Two Facebook posts over the last few days have led me to a reiteration of this point of view.
A friend posted pictures of an ice-cream date with his 10-year-old son. He confessed that he wished he had done more of this while promising that he would make more time to be with his child going forward. Another friend, who has recently taken up an assignment overseas, wished his daughter a happy 16th birthday this morning. He apologized for not being with her today.
I am not going to opine on the choices my friends are making.
I know from my own experience how it feels when your children have ‘suddenly’ grown up, and have taken off to lead their own lives, while you were busy ‘earning a living’ in the garb of ‘building your career’ and ‘saving up enough for the family’. 8 years ago when our 18-year-old son left for the US, to take up an undergrad program at the University of Chicago, I felt tormented by the realization I had ‘not seen him grow up at all’. That night I was overcome by guilt and grief. I carried a lot of it in me for a long, long time, until I decided to forgive myself. I did make up by being available for my daughter during her years in high school and college. But none of what I did or how I felt could turn back time and help me go back to being a young parent again or get my children to be young enough to have time for me!
An excuse we constantly give ourselves for not being able to devote quality time for the family is that our work is very demanding. Honestly every corporate soldier that is slaving away out there is thinking of, and is keen to attain, work-Life balance. But that’s where it stops and remains – as a thought. The intention never gets actualized. I have learnt, again from hard experience, that Life is not going to make time for you. You have to make time for yourself and your family.
You may want to begin by reviewing your Life along these five factors that suck up your time at/for work:
- If you are, as a manager, working more than 8 hours daily (that includes checking mail and responding to them or taking conference calls from other time zones) then one or several of these conditions are true:
- You are a poor decision-maker
- You are just horribly organized
- Your boss is inefficient
- Your subordinates are inefficient
- All of the above!
- Don’t take your smartphone to the dining table and don’t wake up looking at it. Put it off or on silent mode and leave it away from you while at home. Designate times while at home when you will check your phone for calls and mails.
- When with the family, be with the family
- When at work, work – without distraction, without frittering away your time in ‘wasteful, unplanned stuff’
- Have the courage to say no to unproductive meetings or attending meetings whose agenda can be completed over mail or at least your contribution/input can be shared over mail!
The truth is that whenever you say you don’t have time, or the choice to do what you want to do – which in this case is to be with your family – you are actually admitting that you don’t know how to live intelligently! Recognize that your Life is ticking away. To be sure, you will die sooner or later. If you don’t live doing what’s more important now you probably will die wondering what all those meaningless hours spent at work__“being frightfully busy, with no time for anyone, even for yourself, yet having achieved nothing great”__were really all about?