No network is more important than your family. It’s a highly exclusive group that’s going to do anything they can to help you professionally, which is why their support can’t go unnoticed. It’s one of the key takeaways from the concept of counterbalancing.
In The ONE Thing you learn that counterbalancing is the act of switching focus back and forth between professional and personal life. Trying to balance everything equally all the time is exhausting and unattainable. Counterbalancing, on the other hand, allows you to put focus where it’s needed when it’s needed. Sometimes the vast majority of your focus is going to be on work, but you can never neglect family for too long and you can never forsake family for work. The moments you miss with your family can’t be replicated later, and they can’t be taken for granted.
When you’re happy and fulfilled in your personal life it’s much easier to find success in your professional life. Even the busiest professionals can make stronger bonds with their family members by making a few small adjustments.
Take More Time Off
A new study from Harris Interactive found that Americans left 49 percent of their vacation and paid days off of work on the table each year. On average workers forfeited four paid days off that they had earned. This means, collectively, we are essentially choosing to give more of our time to work and less time to relaxing with our loved ones. Why? Many workers feel they simply can’t afford to take time off because they’ll get behind on work, be passed over for a promotion or even be let go. Unfortunately, many employers don’t discuss how taking time off to relax with your family makes you more productive when you’re at work.
You may miss a few meetings on your days off, but you’ll share more memories with your family that you can’t make up for with an in-briefing.
Make Family Time Part of Your Schedule
If you’ve already built a habit of time blocking, then there’s an easy way to improve your family bonds. Schedule for family time. It may sound strange, but if you add your family events to your schedule you’re more likely to square away the time and make it a priority no matter how busy your day is.
Focus on Family When You’re Together
When you do have family time, it’s not enough to simply be present physically. Just like a project at work, your family time needs your focus. The same Harris Interactive study that found we were only taking about half our days off also found that 61 percent of us work while we’re on vacation, and our family members don’t like it. Make it a rule that when you plan to have family time, whether it’s dinner with a sibling, bringing your kids to school or a phone call with your parents, the work distracters are put away. Giving your family 100 percent of your focus will help you make a deeper connection and make the time together more meaningful.
Keep Contact Consistent
A simple way to build a strong bond and trust with a loved one is to be consistent. When they know they can count on you to call them once a week or be at family dinners certain nights of the week your family members will form a strong connection with you. All relationships are rooted in trust. Being in contact consistently shows that you care and your family can trust that you’ll be there for them.
Open Lines of Communication
Communication is a large part of any relationship. Improving your listening skills is one of the best ways to ensure communication is meaningful every time you have a conversation.
- Give the family member your full attention
- Take in what they’re saying rather than thinking about what to say next
- Be respectful of each other’s opinions
- Encourage frequent family discussions
- Use “I and we” instead of “you” to avoid conflicts and express yourself more clearly
It’s easy to think family has to be put on the backburner when work is requiring a significant amount of time, energy and focus. The reality is that you have two worlds to keep counterbalanced – professional and personal. Of the two, personal life is by far the priority. Without it, what are we working for?