Can Family Still be a Priority for Successful Entrepreneurs?

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to mean being a lone wolf, nor does it have to mean that you work so many hours that you never see the family that you have.

But how do you make family a priority, without sacrificing success?

Big Rocks Before Sand

I saw a demonstration as a teenager, which I have never forgotten.  Here’s how it goes: You have a jar, and you must fit as much into it as you can.  You are given sand, pea gravel, and polished beach pebbles.  Teams of teenagers did what they could to squeeze everything into the jar. Only one team managed to fit the entire load.

What I learned is what any engineer can tell you: if you place the bigger objects first, the sand will fill in the holes.

That engineering demonstration became an illustration in prioritization: if we fill our time with every little thing requiring attention, we will have nothing but sand and a few of the rocks in our jar.  If we prioritize the rocks first, the gravel and sand will fill in the cracks.

Presence Not Presents

A frequent excuse for excessive work hours is that our work pays for “everyone’s life.”  While, of course, there is truth in that statement, we can get so caught up in paying for life, we are not living a life.

Your family does not view presents as a substitute for presence, no matter how much they value the things you have accumulated or can provide.

Quality Over Quantity

The good news is, our families may require less time to be a priority than we may think.  Just as more hours at work do not translate into more productivity, clocking in the hours of time with family does not build relationships.  Quality over quantity.

Designate a block of time for each family member.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Once per month, take your wife on a date. Consider quality again and make it a chance to talk, like a hike or a cooking class, over a chance to sit in the same space (like a movie).  A movie is better than nothing but focuses on quality time.
  • Once per month, give your wife a night off from the kids. Send her out with her girlfriends, let her go sit in a coffee shop, take everyone outside and read a book.  Sometimes the best gift to a spouse is the gift of quality time for themselves.
  • Every other month, take each child on a “date.” Let your child pick the activity, even if it is something you wouldn’t normally enjoy.  Your interest in their activities goes a long way toward establishing a healthy relationship.
  • Once every couple of months, designate a “screen free day” with your family, where everyone agrees to zero electronics. Play a game.  Do a puzzle.  Go swimming.

Even if you cannot make every activity with your family, designated time with each family member may achieve more in less time.

No family yet, but want one?  Set aside time for dating, time for groups where other singles are present, and other activities IRL as a way to meet people and create your future family.  Our societal dependence on electronics (and digital dating) can increase the quantity of people we meet, but impede the quality of relationships.

What You Think, You Create

Buddha said, “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract.  What you imagine, you create.”

When you think of ways to make family a priority, feel joyful spending time with them, and imagine ways to be closer as a family unit, you will create what you think.

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