The Latest from the ABM Experts
November 5, 2019
Why Work/Life Balance Isn’t Always the Answer for Busy Parents
Written by Sangram Vajre
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What reality are you building for yourself and your kids?
Do you finally come home from work with your phone still at your ear or in front of your eyes?
That may very well be the reality they, in turn, inherit and pass down to their children. It’s what they see as normal.
Its purpose is to share practical work/life balance tips from a wildly successful entrepreneur who’s still working at being the best dad he can be.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Looking at work/life balance through a macro lens
- Practical ways to prioritize life and work
- The benefits of contrast in your children’s lives
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Work/life balance at a macro level
How do you balance work and life in your house?
DC: Instead of driving or taking the train, which is kind of impossible for me, I actually get a ride into work so I’m able to get home and be present and take care of anything on the way.
I actually learned that from Sangram, which is a great tip if you can do it.
I’d also say, for me, I don’t love the concept of work/life balance. I know what people are saying, but I kind of pull back from that concept. To me, it’s about making priorities in your life.
I think about it more like a natural ebb and flow. The sun rises. The sun sets. The tide goes in. The tide goes out. It’s all ebb and flow. What you want is balance at a macro scale. When I think about it, there are times where I’m out of balance at work.
But, I also make sure there are many times that I’m totally out of balance focused on family and focused on what I need to do there. Whether it means I miss a ton of meetings because I want to go to a school event or I want to be part of my kids doing something.
And that’s totally fine. There’s no guilt in either direction.
What I’m looking for is balance at a macro scale versus interpreting that as every day must be perfectly balanced. I find that leads me to always feeling that I’m never fulfilling one part. I’d focus too micro on like, “Well, I spent half an hour more on this than I wanted to or that I think I should, because of my balance.”
For me, I felt like it was an unrealistic way to live life. Instead, I need to be balanced at a high level and I prioritize being even more so out of balance by prioritizing stuff at home.
I will always prioritize stuff at home over stuff at work.
I’ve seen people who are so focused in on a micro level that they make themselves miserable and sick worrying about it, instead of thinking about the macro instead.
Life lessons from mom and dad
What’s something you’ve learned from your parents that you apply as a dad?
DC: I think all of the major lessons really come down to some early lessons from my parents.
Both of my parents immigrated here. My mom from Ecuador, my dad from Puerto Rico. We spoke Spanish at home, and I only spoke Spanish. I learned how to speak Spanish as my first language, and I only learned English when I started to go to school in kindergarten and first grade.
Like most immigrant families, my parents worked seven days a week. They worked every day, and that was normal for them. But they found joy in the work that they did, and they incorporated us. They worked for themselves, as most immigrants do.
They incorporated us into their lives. My mom worked out of our home, and she was always there. They never missed anything. They always prioritized us, but they did work seven days a week, so it taught me work ethic.
Creating contrast benefits you and your children
How can parents today teach their children the same kind of work ethic?
DC: Everyone brings their own context. Your context can be a good thing, it could be a bad thing.
You need to have contrast in your life. My parents provided this contrast because I can always look back and say, “No matter how hard I’ve worked, I truly believe that I’ve never worked a day as hard as either of my parents.”
It’s never happened. Not one time.
That’s the contrast I bring. But a lot of people, including my own kids, don’t have contrast.
When they have a very small range of contrast of what reality is out there and how people are really struggling to raise their families, then the smallest thing can become a big deal.
We can give ourselves anxiety over it. We can worry ourselves to death over the smallest, inconsequential thing because we lack perspective. Because we don’t have that contrast.
So I always try to advise people to get that contrast. If you don’t have it, you have to force yourself to get that contrast.
I’m sure wherever you live – or not far from where you live – there are people who are living a totally different existence. It’s easy to ignore and go around that, but you have to force yourself into that and actually see and help and be part of that community.
See how people are actually living to give yourself that contrast you need.
You need it almost as a guard rail in your life.
I need to force myself to have more contrast all the time. It’s easy for me to live in my bubble. It’s easy, especially today, with a lot of the technology and phones and all this stuff. It’s easy for us to create our own false realities.
<”It’s easy for us to create our own false realities.” – David Cancel>