What is the most important thing in your life?
If I ask you the question, “What is the most important thing in your life?”, my goal is to get you to reevaluate the relationship of your role in your business to the other roles you play in your life. While I started off with a quote from a book I had read, what really inspired me to write this was an interaction with my wife. We had been spending time on our ranch doing things we truly enjoy doing. I worked on the tractor. We rode the 4-wheeler, walked our walking trail, and rode horses together. As the evening came upon us, my wife (who is also the chief leadership officer of our business) and I were relaxing on the back porch. She said a sentence that really inspired me. “I love THIS Tim!” she said. “The one who just enjoys living on the ranch and is living in the moment.” I asked her to elaborate because I know she has the ability to see the big picture. I hadn’t realized I had not been living in the moment. She explained to me that I had become too caught up in the affairs of our businesses. I was spending not necessarily too much time working on them, but I was spending too much emotion and heart on the businesses and not enough of my emotion and heart on the things that matter most. That evening I went into my office, picked up my marker, and spent some time with my dry board. This tends to be the place where I do most of my hard thinking. At the top of my dry erase board I wrote the answer to my question, “What is the most important thing?” CREATE ON AMAZING LIFE Then I started to write subcategories of where I was spending my time. I had gotten in a trap many business owners fall into. If I was doing anything except working or thinking about work, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spending time on work. What had happened in the process was those around me began resenting me for it. Next I began to make a list of activities that, if I was spending time or effort on them, would provide the same “benefit” as the other categories I had already put on the board. In other words, I wanted to create a list of equal importances in my life, even though I had not been treating them as such. I encourage you to do the same. Below are the categories I listed and a few of the things I listed under each.
- Chill Time This is my downtime, and I typically spend it listening to music, surfing the web, watching movies and TV, reading fiction or magazines, or just relaxing.
- Travel I realized that I travel for different reasons including adventure, romance, family, business, education, and to just get away.
- Business This includes all my different business interests. It’s the one that can take over if I allow it.
- Relationships In order of importance with some overlap: Wife, family, extended family, friends, work colleagues, mentors, and apprentices.
- Hobbies My favorite hobbies include: body building, scuba diving, flying, golf, and hiking.
- Ranch When I’m on the ranch I enjoy these various activities: 4 wheeling, riding horses, driving my jeep, playing tennis, swimming, riding the Harley, playing with my cars, and taking my canoe out on the lake.
- Spirituality This includes meditation, prayer, church, study, and scriptures.
- Health This encompasses eating well, exercise, stretching, supplements, and studying health.
- Personal Development This includes attending seminars, listening to educational audio programs, taking courses, and reading non-fiction books.
Letting Go of the Guilt After I listed out the 9 categories of things that are equally important in my life, I realized I should never feel guilty for doing any one of them. When I am spending time stretching, I should not feel like I should be working. If I am working on my Harley, I should not feel bad that I am not spending time with the children. Simultaneously I should not feel guilty working on business when someone else thinks I should be playing. Neither should you! Life is about finding a balance between work and your other roles that works for you. It does not mean spending equal time on each thing. Trying to do that will just increase your stress level. One day, one week, or one month of my life may look out of balance from an outsider’s perspective if he doesn't understand why. There is No Such Thing as Work-Life Balance A common mistake we all make is thinking we need true “balance.” The reality is, balance means everything gets an equal amount of time. I prefer asking the question, “What’s the most important thing I could be doing right now?” The answer to that question is the key. Sometimes the most important thing is to handle a crisis. Other times the most important thing is to relax and spend time with my family. Work is one of my best friends. It has gotten me all that I have. It has been there through my whole life. Work has allowed me to meet people and have opportunities I never could have had without it. Work has always treated me well, though sometimes not with kindness. But work can be a jealous mistress, and it is important to keep life in balance. Just don’t get confused with what “balance” actually means. Living Every Minute, Dr. Tim