When Daymond John speaks, or tweets, or posts, people listen. And a couple of weeks ago, he posted on LinkedIn about what he considers to be one of the most important New Year's resolutions we all should make, and one he's making himself: Better work-life balance.
The FUBU founder and Shark Tank Shark wrote the post while on his third long international trip of the year. Above a picture of his beautiful little girl, he wrote: "I MISS HER SO MUCH! IS WHAT WE DO REALLY WORTH IT?" He goes on to say that he's called "The People's Shark" because he's honest about the huge amount of hustle it takes to start and run a successful business. He continues:
I say all of that to say, Work/life balance is the toughest thing that we will always be challenged with. It will never be perfect and it will personally change for you over time. As we all set our New Years goals, make dealing with your personal work/life balance goals one of the most important things on your list.
The term "work-life balance" is itself controversial. Career experts today recommend something called "work-life integration," the idea being that sometimes you prioritize work, other times you prioritize family, friends, and non-work activities, and thus you find creative ways to make everything work together. At least, that's the hope. Reality is usually quite a lot messier.
John is right that being excellent at our jobs and fully engaged in our family lives at the same time is something of a constant struggle for most entrepreneurs and successful professionals including me. I'm sitting here writing this on New Year's Eve. And it's super easy to get that struggle wrong. You might think John has plenty of time later on to be a doting dad to his three-year-old, but a friend of his puts it in stark perspective. He writes:
As my buddy Deon Cole would say, "You got 15 more summers with her before she is in college and doesn't know your name." Damn that hurts!
So what do you do? Most of us are drawn to big-bang solutions to pressing problems. Quit your job and live off savings for a few years, perhaps moving somewhere more affordable to make that easier. Quit working in an office and start a home-based business that you can do at night while the kids are asleep. But John suggests a much more practical approach: Small tweaks that will allow you to spend just a bit more time focused on your loved ones and a bit less time focused on your work. Maybe you mark out school performances and sports events on your calendar at the beginning of the year so you can plan your schedule so as to be there more often. Maybe you do what you need to in 2020 to take an extra week of vacation with your family, or your partner, or with some friends, or even by yourself.
Because, it's not just about being there for the people in your life, it's being there for yourself as well. Work-life balance also means finding the time you need for exercise and healthy meals and plenty of sleep and even self-indulgent relaxation that you need to be your most productive at work, but also your best self as a parent, partner, or friend. If you're exhausted and crabby from rushing through work, and then rushing home to be with your family, working late into the night after they're all asleep and then rushing off to work to start the process all over again, you won't be much use in either place.
John asks, "If you aren't already doing so, how will you make the small changes to create a better work/life balance in your life?" Here's to finding good answers in the coming year.