Getting Life Back Into Balance - picture of father and daughter having picnic
Personal Finance

Getting Life Back Into Balance

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A few weeks ago, my 5-year-old daughter and I were having a conversation about a wedding she went to with Holly. She was telling me about how much fun they had on the dance floor, spinning in circles and dancing with the other kids her age. I told her, “I wish I could have been there, but I had to work.” She responded flatly, “I wish you could have been there too, Daddy. But you have to miss lots of important days because of your work.”

And there it was…the response I’ve been dreading for years. Up to now, my children have been young enough that they haven’t noticed my schedule that much. Luckily, I have yet to miss anything important of theirs – mostly just extended family events – and I do spend almost all of my free time with the family. But how long is that defense going to last. As they get older and become more involved in different activities, I’m sure that I am going to have to miss the occasional game, recital, or event – much to their disappointment.

Achieving Some Balance With Your Life

These are the type of moments that make me wonder how much money is enough? They are moments that make me look at what is happening in my life and have me questioning if I am heading in the right direction. I find myself asking tough questions and making adjustments as I go along. Here are a few things I look at when it appears that I may need more balance in my life.

  • Family Time – Obviously, we all need to make a living. While hard work certainly has its rewards, we sometimes get so wrapped up in our work that we forget to prioritize what is most important in our lives. Nobody ever looks back on their life and says, “Man, if only I had spent more time at the office.” No. They look back and wish for more time with the ones they loved. Make time for your family. Be truly present with the ones you love. Make some memories. Spend less time building your resume and more time building your eulogy. As we all know, time is the most precious resource we have.
  • Find a Hobby – Do you remember what it was like to be a kid, always looking for things to entertain and excite you? I don’t know about you, but most of my childhood was spent carefree, just playing. All we did was look for ways to have fun. When we become adults, we often lose that sense of freedom, that sense of play. However, we all need ways to unwind – now more than ever. When you are feeling out of balance, look for things that make you feel like a kid again. Find a hobby. Have a snowball fight. Play a board game. Travel. Have some fun…and find some balance.
  • Exercise and Diet – Honestly, growing up, I wish that my sports coaches hadn’t used running as a way to punish us for poor play because my adult self must associate exercising with punishment. Yet, whenever I’m not getting enough exercise, it shows through in my attitude and energy levels. The same goes for my diet. When I’m not eating right, I feel run down and crabby. Diet and exercise can have a profound impact on our life balance. If you want to take care of your mind, you have to begin by taking care of your body.
  • Get Some Sleep – Do you ever wake up feeling like this guy? Yeah, me too. That is usually when I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Sleep can be the key to acting like the decent human being that you really are. (You’re good! You really are!) Not only does it affect your mood and energy, it also helps with your productivity and creativity. So, turn off that last episode of Game of Thrones and hit the sack Jack (Gleeson).
  • Control Your Finances – Do you wanna know what makes most people feel crazy? Not being in control. And, guess what…when you are not in control of your money, it can have a ripple effect on the rest of your life. So, balance that budget. Be deliberate with your money. Stay in control.

After reading my own words, it looks like I’ve got a little bit of balancing work to do. Here’s hoping these tips can help you bring some balance into your life as well.

For more thoughts on work and life, check out these sweet posts!

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36 Comments

  1. My hubby and I have spent a lot of time discussing this ever since we became parents last summer. It is a delicate balance between making enough money and spending enough time. Luckily we are able to have me staying home right now, but I know that he sometimes feels that he is missing out when he is at work or sleeping (he works overnights so sleeps during the day). We are still working on it, too. I think the goal of life balance is one that a lot of us are more or less constantly working on these days (at least it feels like that!)

  2. Greg, I can feel your pain. I reached that point a few years ago when my kids also started getting old enough to notice when I wasn’t around. Once that happened it clicked with me that I need to stop doing everything for everyone, focus on the important stuff, and just let everything else be. Now I laugh when I see some of the younger guys I work with trying to pull 60-80 work weeks to prove to the boss they are the next Superman. To them I say “good luck”.

  3. Greg, I can really relate to you. I was there before. That’s why I am making sure now I have quality time with my kids. You know quality vs quantity. I’d like to say something about sleep or break. It really does help me relieve stress and see different perspective to give solution to problems. When I can’t find balance, I get some sleep. I’d definitely try the others you mentioned like exercise.

  4. I’m all about finding balance in life and I’ve realized in the last year that I used to be way too much of a ‘time optimist.’ I’d chronically underestimate how long tasks would take, which always left me disappointed and feeling like I wasn’t getting enough done.

    I’ve found that just by being honest with myself about how much time I need to allot to projects, I’m much more efficient (and much less stressed)! Totally agree with you on the need for a good diet, exercise, and sleep–I’m a wreck without that trifecta.

  5. So many people fall into this trap, Greg. They think “I’ll only work a lot until…….” and then the next thing they know they’re headed for retirement age. Time flies SO fast, doesn’t it? Great list here, Greg. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Only 12 days into the new year and I’m already sleep-deprived. A good reminder to get my body back on track before getting too ambitious with my other goals.

  7. Amazing that a 5 year old can see this, but many of the people that we work for do not. Good luck finding your balance.

  8. I don’t have kids, but fear this wake up call. My good friend took a job at the private school we when to high school at. He traveled maybe 90% of the time. At first it wasn’t an issue. But when his daughter got older, she asked him one night if he was going to live with her and Mommy anymore. That crushed him and he ended up quitting to teach instead.

  9. That balance is so hard to achieve when you are a young family. Paying the mortgage, saving for college, saving for retirement all seem to be of utmost importance….and they are. But somehow those things get worked out. Spending time with the family is really the most important of all and sometimes you need to find ways to do both. For example, my husband would occasionally take our son to ball practice but while just sitting there watching the practice, he would also check his voice mail and respond when necessary. That way he got a little work done, but our son was able to have his dad with him during practice and, during the ride to and from, a lot of important boy talk got accomplished.

  10. That picture is so funny and yes I often feel like that…bird? I was just talking about how good quality sleep is important in my blog today. I get the time in, but not enough quality, which means I must be out of balance somewhere in my day and I need to work on that. I think as you get older, it doesn’t take as much to throw you off balance like when you were in your 20’s and could go all day with a hangover and little sleep, and eating crappy food. lol!

  11. I can definitely and unfortunately relate to you on this Greg. The trap I get myself caught in is that I work from home so the kids already get a lot of my time….so I must be doing good. The only thing is that time is usually with me being plugged in for 90+% of the time. I’ve learned that I really need to schedule it in, otherwise it’s likely not going to happen. The last thing I want to do is wake up and realize my daughter is in high school and wonder what happened to the time.

  12. This was the cold hard slap to the face that I needed. I find myself spending way to much time on work and work related projects and not nearly enough time on spending quality time withe the kiddos. Since they are still small I felt like I could get away with it, but I’m not trying to end up with a great resume and a terrible eulogy. Well stated article.

  13. I use to spend 12+ hours in the office trying to get everything done. I was so burnt out. I just got to the point when I decided that I needed my life back and that I was going to be in the office from 9-to-6 only and if work was going to get pushed back, so be it. It worked out quite well. I was much happier and my work really didn’t suffer at all. I just needed to re-prioritize.

  14. I know you you feel. Kids only want you around for a few years and then they hope you have to go to work. It’s a constant struggle to find the balance. I don’t have to work every day, but it always seems that school field trips or parties are on days that I’m scheduled to work. I think you have to just do the best with the time you have. I know adults who have great relationships with their parents and great childhood memories although Mom and Dad worked full time always. It’s making the time off count that’s important.

  15. Great tips, Greg. I feel like I’m always working on all of these areas. Between work and family responsibilities, it’s really hard to find time for hobbies. Luckily, I see blogging and fitness as hobbies to some degree, since they’re activities that I really enjoy.

  16. Hobbies are important for me. The wife gets a little pissed I take off to go hiking by myself, but it is often times more than needed.

  17. You know, I was just with a panel of working moms and we were talking about how men never seem to talk about work/life balance, but it’s good to know that men think about it. Balance is near impossible since we are only one person with a finite amount of hours in the day. I think as long as you manage your competing areas of your life as best as you can, and give yourself some grace, you are doing great!

  18. A lot of people have a hectic life and im sure this will help a lot of people out. How is your vacation going?

    1. It was wonderful. Thanks for asking =)

      We’re sitting in the Miami airport right now trying to find a way to pass the next 4 hours. Ready to see the kids!!!

  19. I don’t have kids yet but I do work nights 3-midnight. I know eventually when the kids do come it’ll become an issue.

  20. “Nobody ever looks back on their life and says, “Man, if only I had spent more time at the office.” ”

    Actually not true. Plenty of older women say exactly that.

    Yes, you should definitely get your life-work-balance to what you want it to be subject to your constraints, but I wouldn’t take comments like your daughter’s to heart too much. Sure, you miss some weddings, but it’s not like you spend your entire time working. If they really don’t get to spend enough time with you, then that’s a problem, but it’s not a bad thing for kids to realize that parents can’t attend every event every time. We’ve almost all got constraints and limits and that is ok.

  21. I love this post Greg. Work life balance is so important. Spending valuable time with your loved ones is something that a person will never regret.

  22. Balance is everything to me, and I always attempt to have a system in place to achieve it. I feel people place work at the top of the list, and it shouldn’t be that way. It should always be your health first, family second, and work third. If you are not taking care of yourself, or live unhealthy it wont be long before family or work events will be missed 100%.

  23. It’s difficult to come up with such a balance. I try my hardest, but with a job, business, and family, it’s not easy. I do have hobbies that I actively participate in and spend time with my family as much as I can, but there are days when I wish I wasn’t as busy as I am.

  24. Ben Luthi says:

    When I first started my blog I had zero balance. After a 3-month blogging hiatus, I made some rules for myself, and so far it’s been awesome. I feel like there are still some tweaks to make here or there, but overall I feel pretty balanced.

    1. Me too. My time is not my kids’ from the time I get home from work until they go to bed. It leaves me with less time, but it’s easier to deal with now that I have a schedule.

  25. Oh I can definitely relate, Greg. Before I returned to private practice, I felt the same and I had a very understanding boss. Now I still work very hard and sometimes put in long hours but now I can better build my schedule around what’s going on with my family. It is finding that balance and it’s not always easy but they are worth it.

  26. Finding balance under the best of circumstances can be a challenge but it’s even more so when you’re a single parent.

    I struggled with this after my divorce as I became the only breadwinner, housekeeper and, sadly, parent. I chose to downsize my work so I could be closer to home and work part-time. The lack of funds was a challenge but, once my daughter was older, I was able to ramp things up again. Meanwhile, we have a solid foundation for our relationship because she knows that when things got tough, I put her first.

    She’s nearly 20 now and at university. They do grow up and you can then spend as much time working as you like. They are young for such a short time – make the most of it.

  27. Work life balance is super important! It’s critical to living a long and happy life. It’s something that will vary between people since none of us are the same and have the same needs, but it looks like you know exactly what you need to achieve a better balance. I hope it all works for you!

  28. Life work balance is very important and I’m glad my wife keeps reminding me about it on a regular basis. Working in the high tech field I definitely know a few people that have no life work balance. It’s amazing that these people manage to have a family at all.

  29. All I can say is wow! I’m workaholic and since my work is not covering all the bills even if my wife is exerting some efforts of her own also balancing the time with the kids and house chores. My wife and I had some arguments about not having time for family time or date night a few months ago, maybe “not” having time is the reason why couples and family falls apart from each other besides from miscommunications. Thank you for this blog Greg.

  30. The last few weeks have been totally out of whack for me- I’ve been sacrificing a lot, including my health- which is one thing I’ve always been great about, to get things done. I find winter to be a particularly hard time for me to not let work take over my life.

  31. It’s hard for me to achieve any kind of balance because a.) my work laptop from my job as a software engineer comes home with me and I have meetings at odd hours to accommodate my teammates in India. b.) I’m a part-time blogger that does most of that work at night. I try to balance it out by making sure that I take a few days off from blogging each week (or have a light task workload), AND I can name one thing at the end of the day that I did uniquely to spend time with each member of my family. It’s not perfect, but it helps!

  32. I struggle with a lot of these. The biggie is work. I have a full-time job, a blog and a lot of opportunity (sometimes whether I want to or not) for OT. We need the money, so I take it. Meanwhile, he’s home all day (disability) and feeling neglected despite my being right there.

    I’m trying to make sure I get off the computer and sit with him on the couch, which helps. But it’s a constant struggle. I did just get back into a hobby though, and that’s really nice.

  33. I grew up in a single parent house and though my mom.had a good career (pharmacist), because of her schedule, and lack of help, she missed a lot. I grew ip realizing that i never wanted that in my life. I chose my career strongly based on the fact that it allows me to have a good family life…and why, though I admire people like Holly, could never freelance etc FT, i know i would allow it to consume me while “away”. Whats the good in making money of you can’t enjoy it with family? Like you said, its not like you guys are struggling, your kids will thank you for being there with them,i promise.

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