You know all the buzz words in business to “be successful”, but what about your personal happiness? On my amazing journey through life; personal, family and professional, I’ve learned that success and happiness in my personal life and professional life are directly tied together. So why did it take me so long to understand this? Why does everyone try to compartmentalize happiness? For me, there is really no such thing as “work life balance”, it’s really just “life balance” and everything in my life needs to come together in a perfect balance to have me be the best I can be in every aspect of my life. You have to remember that if you are not in the right mindset and not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of your family and will definitely not be the best you can be at work. I think all of us get so task oriented that we forget what’s important in our lives, “the big picture” or even better, “your purpose”.
When was the last time you took a step back and thought about your purpose in life? Not your next task, goal, or goal after a goal, but honestly thinking about what your purpose is in life. In the end, no one looks back at their life when they are “at their finish line” and says, “I wish I worked more”.
I was so wrong
When I was younger, I thought all I needed was to accomplish my goals and life would be great. I had a goal – yes, one goal. Whatever it was at that time, get this job as a programmer, buy a new car, buy a house, change from programming to sales, change from sales to management, start my own company… But all I was doing was checking boxes. Even when I figured out to “have a goal after a goal” I was still only scratching the surface of balance and happiness. Yes, the longer-term vision helped me make better short-term decisions, but it was not until I really started to understand leadership and grow successful corporate cultures that I started to apply those rules to my personal life. I think it is interesting that it was easier for me to study, learn, and practice true purposeful leadership in my businesses before I was able to apply the same practices to my life. We get so caught up in accomplishing the next item on our list, both in personal and our professional lives, that we forget to remember what we are working towards. Even worse is when you accomplish all your tasks or goals and you have no more on your list! I have many sad stories of close friends and family that accomplished all their goals in life and were suddenly lost – turns out they were really just accomplishing tasks, not a long term purpose. Some recovered and found their next “goal” or better yet their true purpose, but unfortunately some not.
You are the foundation that everything is built on
There is no one else that you need to impress or rely on. No one that you need to “look successful” for. It’s up to you to figure out who you are and what you want to accomplish in your life. Not the next job, or next location to live, but what you really want to accomplish in life. For me, I was failing as I lined up and started checking boxes, jobs, money, locations – all just things. It was not until I really dug in and stopped checking off boxes could I figure out what my true purpose was. For me, I’ve discovered that my purpose in life, the one thing I want to make sure that I accomplish above all other things, is that I want my family to love, trust, respect and help each other and carry on that tradition and emotion for generations to come. Even if they do not understand why they have such a great family that cares for them and loves each other so much. It’s my purpose in life to make that happen.
Find the right partner
Harvard proved in their 80yr+ study that the one thing in common for people that live longer is that they were in a happy relationship. It is a proven fact that being in a successful relationship can help you live a longer life – so once you have the right partner, it’s time to focus on your purpose that you can accomplish together. Another case study also found that most of conversations in a relationship is about logistics. Yes, I can speak from experience that much of what my wife and I discuss these days is about logistics and how to take care, pick up or drop off our three wonderful kids. Or at least the logistics around planning a vacation – those are the fun logistics to discuss. But until you understand where you are going, what you want to accomplish and who you want to be with, you will not be in a strong enough position to lead others. If you have not figured out that you need to work on yourself, your end game and your partner, you will never realize your full potential.
Build on your foundation and be one person in all settings
As humans, it’s in our DNA to achieve. But just think of what you can accomplish when you have a stronger foundation. I always use the analogy about building a sky scrapper. The stronger the foundation, the higher you can build. You need to figure out what it will take to make your foundation stronger. Yes, it’s life integration and balance not separation that helped me in my personal and professional life. I am never trying to figure out who to be, I am the same person in all my settings, by myself, my family, my friends and at work. The one thing that is constant in life is growth and we grow through our experiences. If you do not share your experiences across your relationships – your partner, family, friends and coworkers, you will only grow in a different direction from the people you care about the most. By sharing even the smallest experiences throughout your journey, you will bring everyone with you and closer to you.
Start with the end in mind
To truly be the best you can be and help those around you, you need to ask yourself the right question. At the end of your life, what is the one thing you want to have accomplished? Not what you want to be remembered for or or what jobs you had or how much money you made. What truly will define what you leave behind when you are gone? Take that purpose and have an open conversation with your partner, your family, your friends, and yes, even your coworkers (when the setting is correct). Do not try and be different things to different people, you will only be a lessor person to all. Once you understand where you are going and who will be your partner on that journey, only then can you really build a strong foundation and grow together. An integrated life: personal, family, professional – it’s your journey and you only get one chance. Understand where you are going and everything will come together as you share your journey and grow together and live your life. Most people say, “life is short”, I say “life is long”, so make the choice to live the life you want to live – every day.