As host of The Dr. Jaime Show I have an opportunity to talk to viewers about areas of life that encompass balance, fulfillment, happiness and motivation. On 10/28/16 I had the privilege of talking to four successful business and family men on the topic of work life balance.
Before hosting the Men & Work-Life Balance segment, I noticed that men would always comment on my book, The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment. At book signings, men would say “Is this something I could read, too?” On radio shows, the men interviewing would comment “Why does your book say Women in the title, when we could use these tips, too?” And a review of my book from a woman was “My husband is using these tips now.”
As women, we need more work life balance, this is true. Many women are people pleasers, struggling to say no, and are always working toward the next thing. But I learned in this segment, so are men.
Times have changed for women and men. It has been decades now that women have been juggling work and home life, but more than ever now, men are, too. Many men have the balance within work down pat and they deserve some attention in learning how to add in home life to the mix.
I hope that the men and work-life balance episode, and this article, begins to peak more and more interest from interviewers, bloggers and prominent researchers to begin shedding more light on men and work life balance.
Below are 15 key points I walked away with from this panel of men on work life balance. I encourage both men and women to watch the full episode of Men & Work-Life Balance, as it was educational, fun, funny and inspirational.
- Awareness is Key
Throughout the course of the segment, the men had brought up awareness as an ongoing factor in balance. For instance, they agreed that it is okay to not be a perfect husband all the time, but that you must be aware of how you are acting so that you can correct it. We are not the best parents and spouses every single day, that is human nature, but the point is to be aware of it and get back on track.
Damian had brought up that awareness is important because it prevents habits. For instance, in the case of the husband having a bad day and not being the best husband, if he is aware of his actions, behaviors and reactions, he is likely to work toward growing and working through faults or hurtful actions. If the husband is not aware that he is being hurtful, this behavior may become habit, which can impact balance among the entire family.
- Have Mentors (and more than 1)
Mentors and support systems were something these men did not feel guilty using or asking for help and guidance, in order to obtain more balance. In any vertical of life, the men felt you needed a mentor. For instance, you need to know who you can reach out to when it comes to struggles you are having with family. Likewise, know who you can reach out to if you have questions about business and even health or spirituality.
As the men were talking, I realized how imperative having an open mind is when interacting with support systems and mentors. They did not shut down ideas. They may not always take 100% of the feedback provided to them, but, as John had stated, sometimes the feedback sparks a thought in you to help you overcome or get through an issue. They all were open to receiving alternative perspectives to help them advance.
Damian had brought up the fact that in different phases of your life you lose connections and when you are starting a new chapter, to take up those old connections as an opportunity to reconnect yourself. Connect with old friends, aunts, and cousins, and recognize that you are not the only one going through that event. They had suggested embracing other people’s experiences to get through tough times.
For people that feel they have no support systems or mentors, all the men recommended reading books, listening to powerful seminars and following influencers on LinkedIn and reading about their life experiences and mindsets as a way to have more guidance.
- Include Family
In order to achieve balance these successful men try and include their families into their travel, schedules and decisions. For instance, Kris starts his day off with making sure he has breakfast with his daughter, and then jumps into calls and meetings for the day. He also indicated that when he travels, he asks his wife to come. He is upfront and lets his wife know he may not be able to be a part of the family activities while they are on the business trip, but that they are welcome to come with him. In Kris’s experience he has found that when he takes his wife with him, she gains a better understanding of what he does and this helps communication, understanding and balance in their life.
- Schedule Your Days
In order to find balance, these men agreed that they work hard to schedule their days so that there are not last minute “pop ups” on their schedules. The schedule is put in place to keep order. They are all aware that the schedule can be broken, but they work hard to use it, stick to it and keep focused. One great tip for couples/families came from Kris. He indicated that he and his wife share a schedule to avoid miscommunications and so that they each have time during the day to do things they individually want to do, like exercise.
- They Encourage Their Partners to Follow Their Passions
One of the questions that the men were asked were “How do you let your dreams come true and make sure she is still able to work on her dreams and goals.” Some of the men expressed concern that their wives may be sacrificing too much for the family. They genuinely want their partners to identify their passions and go for them. The men had discussed the importance of consistently talking with their partners to make sure that they are happy with where they are at in life. They even felt that it is their role as a spouse to help their partner pull out their passions if they are struggling to find it. Kris said “just be supportive because ultimately without them, in most cases, you’re nothing, so you got to support them with what they are doing and what they are thinking. Give them the freedom to make that decision.” All the men firmly agreed that their partner’s happiness was inherently important to them and life balance as a whole.
- Use Decompressing Time
Decompressing time was very important in balance and transitioning from one role to the next. All the men agreed that when home life is struggling, it does interfere with work and that it can even impact your motivation at work. The men all want to continue being successful in work and thus they try to keep home life strong and positive so that it has a minimal impact on work. Gone are the days where you leave work at work and home at home. They are strongly interconnected.
When having a tough day at work, when you know you are about to transition into your role as spouse, boyfriend or parent, transition by using decompressing time. One of the tips the men shared were, on your drive home from work, find a way to put yourself in the right frame of mind. Do something that helps you to adjust both mentally and physically to your next life role. You can do this by listening to music or something inspirational on a podcast during your drive home. Avoid negativity and politics. They suggested making the most of any time you have before transitioning into your next life role.
The men all saw the value in communicating with partners as way to achieve work life balance. They had talked about making sure your partner knows exactly what you do in business. John had recently received a promotion and made it clear to his girlfriend what his new role entailed and the new hours and schedule he would have. He was upfront about expectations. He also talked about understanding her role and being accepting of when she has to leave to do certain business related tasks. They also discussed the importance of ongoing communication with one another about satisfaction in all areas of life together.
- Keep Commitments, but be Flexible, Too
Damian had brought up that he works hard to keep his commitments. If he committed to his family he will try to adjust last minute work issues to another day/time, because this helps to maintain balance. He values his reputation and word both in the workplace and home sectors. All the men did agree that there are times when something last minute for business comes up and they do want their partners to be accepting of the situation. The specific question asked to the panel was, “When a last minute business issue pops up, if it interferes with a commitment with your family, how do you handle it?” Kris had stated “that’s just got to be an understanding. You know, if she intimately understands what I do and what I provide, then when that happens, you know, it’s like, honey this is how we put food on the table.” The men agreed that in order to maintain balance, when emergencies arise, everyone in the family may need to work together.
At the same time, all the men agreed, that “last minute business issues” should not be an everyday occurrence; that your time should be scheduled so that there is more consistency in your day to day routines. Kris had brought up the point that if your wife is extremely upset about a last minute issue that pops up with work, it is probably more than that one issue. The men recommend making sure that your partner is fulfilled emotionally, physically, etc. so that there are not frequent breakdowns and you can maintain balance (going back to communication).
- Admit When You are Wrong
That is pretty much it. You will not always be right in business or a relationship. Don’t cover it up, don’t ruminate on it, admit you were wrong and move forward.
- Move on and Forget About Ruminating
In order to achieve balance and success, these men keep moving forward. They acknowledged that at times they have negative thoughts, but they recognize that this is just a moment in their day and they move on. If they make a poor decision, they do not ruminate and dwell on it, they find a way to make it right, or adjust and move on. Kris indicated that moments come up in life that are not the best and it is a matter of how fast you can get through it and continue on.
- Do Things Outside Your Comfort Zone
Omar initially introduced the concept of doing things outside of your comfort zone as a way to hurdle tough times. Living outside of your comfort zone and trying new things will produce new opportunities that can pull you through and rebalance your life.
- Surround Yourself with the Right People
The men acknowledged that they have had hardships and setbacks in life and that they can be vulnerable. They firmly agreed that when you are down and out you have to be cautious what you attach yourself to. Sometimes we attach ourselves to the media and compare ourselves. Sometimes we look at others and in a sense of “thank goodness their life is worse than mine.” But Kris says that is no way to grow. When you are down and out, be sure to surround yourself with the right events and influencers so that you attach to something more positive.
- Be Grateful
In order to stay balanced, the men indicated that they work very hard at being grateful. Omar brought in a quote of his, “you’ll never be successful until you realize you already are.” They all did not deny consistently trying to chase more and more at work. They called it an “unquenchable thirst” wondering if they would ever be content at work. But, they are aware of this mindset and when they find themselves not as grateful, they work to refocus their energy on being grateful for what they already have.
For many people it can be hard to not chase, as Omar stated “the next shiny thing,” but it is important to be both aware and grateful of the present moment and situation that you have been given and have created. This creates happiness and that “why” that we desire in order to achieve balance.
Time was brought up and as the one unrenewable asset in this lifetime. Kris believes that you can live like a millionaire without the million dollars. You just need to refocus and recognize that time is the true asset, and then work to do what you can to use your time wisely.
- Be Mindful
The men admitted that at times they still struggle with being mindful, but that this is important to life balance. Damian said that his biggest regret in work life balance was missing moments with his son. I think we can all relate to him. He said that there were times when he was holding his son on his chest in a rocker and mentally he was thinking about the emails he still needed to send. The men agreed that it is overall very important to balance that you be present physically and mentally when you are with the things or people that matter to you.
Omar shared a great activity that you can do with your spouse, quarterly reviews. Omar talked about having quarterly reviews with coworkers where they commented on his presence and that although he is physically in the moment at work, he may not be mentally present. He stated that his wife has made similar comments and that doing reviews of your life personally and professionally is a good idea in finding balance and areas for improvement.
- Know Your “Why”
The men talked about knowing your why as a key in life balance. Essentially, knowing why you are doing what you are doing. Kris had brought up that he wants to leave a legacy and Omar was passionate about watching his son take interest in business with him. They also discussed the importance of chasing something bigger than yourself and wanting to impact the world in a positive way.
When asked the question “How do you make decisions on what comes first in life, daily, monthly etc.,” Omar had touched on being able to identify your vision, not just in business but relationships, too. Omar had suggested creating a vision board with your spouse to be able to better see the direction you are headed and then to “reverse engineer that” where each day, you make decisions that align with that vision.
Omar had commented that “If you can’t be happy in a shack you’re not going to be happy in a mansion. All the material things that you might accumulate really can’t matter if you don’t have core happiness.” He transitioned into talking about a seminar he attended where he learned that you have to better understand why you do what you do. For example, why do you want money (answer: so I can buy stuff). But why do you want to buy stuff (answer: so I can be happy). So, instead of focusing on money, begin your journey with happiness in mind. Now you will have purpose and direction.
Some of the activities that were mentioned on how you can find your why: Check out YouTube videos, reach out to mentors, create vision boards, self-reflect, write your own eulogy.
At the end of the show, I asked each of the 4 men to leave the viewers with one takeaway. Here is that takeaway verbatim for you:
John: “Be aware, communicate and make time for yourself.”
Damian: “Live in that moment.”
Kris: “Stop surrounding yourself with people that suck. Stop doing sh*t you hate. Stop going places you don’t want to go…..when you start being truthful, everything else falls into place.”
Omar: “Nobody’s perfect. No relationship is perfect. So don’t feel bad if you’re having a bad day or you feel like your relationship could be better because, you know, everyone is going through it. No matter how good it looks from the outside, people are all going through tough times. So don’t let the bad stuff get you down…it doesn’t have to be perfect.”