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Hang Up, Shut Off and Pay Attention

May 15th, 2017

“Five more minutes’ honey” I say to my wife as she sits at the bar with me, on Pintrest. “I need to squeeze $25K more out of this deal and we can go eat”. Familiar words in my industry, familiar scene for many business people and sports professionals. I feel like I am simply doing my job and fighting for my client. “Hello, my name is Al and I’m a workaholic, this is day one of my journey, and I always feel like I’m chasing day two.”

I love what I do, but I struggle with work-life balance. This is not a story of one. Whether it’s the balance of work, training, study, social and personal time – we all feel the time squeeze. Personally, I feel like I’m contributing in some ways and failing in so many others. I love my wife more than life itself, yet I take advantage of her patience to get that next deal done. I strive to be there for my kids and their events, but there constantly seems to be something pulling me in the opposite direction. I’m constantly convincing myself that with my dedication to work, I’m putting food on the table for everyone I love, yet it never feels that way. It’s the work guilt.

This is a personal story that will resonate with many. I don’t “emote” well is what I have been told many times. A trait/ affliction that pays huge dividends in my job, but gives everyone who wants to be close to me fits! I am proud to be a machine in my industry, showing little emotion as I fight battles to the end, but I am torn to be so unreachable, cold and aloof to the ones I love. There are no excuses. All of you who are “married” to your job like I am know exactly what I’m talking about, and you probably feel similarly.

So, the question is, how does one strike balance? What is the secret?

Some of us can express this and make it work, while others like myself can’t turn our emotions on and are painful to deal with. This “need” to be the best at what I do has defined all of my relationships, and ended many. I want to be a better husband and dad, yet I struggle to find the balance. There is no greater weight to carry than to have disappointed the ones that love you. It’s painful, it’s hurtful, yet I still haven’t been able to find that balance, or at least sustain it for a while. My wife is perfect, she keeps my chaotic universe in sync while I sit on my phone or on a plane, trying to close the next deal. She speaks to me while my mind is somewhere else, she cooks dinner that I gulp down quickly before the next GM calls me to discuss a client. I see it happen, I see the frustration, I see the disappointment, I see the anger building, yet I can’t control it. There is no excuse, I am in control. I couldn’t have picked a better partner in life than my wife. She is beautiful (I way over married), smart, strong and disciplined. She lives to make my life better. I adore her, yet I can’t reel it in. I have to be the best, I have to please everyone around me, I have to win… I want to change, and find life balance.

You have to start somewhere, right? Here’s the three things I’m going to strive to do this month each day:

Shut down the electronics during each meal. Listen and enjoy the moment.

Show appreciation for my loved ones every day, simply “thank you for your support and I love you”.

Let my kids know that I notice and appreciate all of their successes, none too small to recognize.

We become the experiences that we live, and I’m sure I was shaped by some extreme events in my past, but that is no excuse for how I behave. So, to my wife, and every partner and family of a workaholic, like myself out there, we are very aware of our strengths and challenges. Partners and family are the backbone of who you are. At times when there is a driven individual, we take this for granted.

For every pro athlete, executive, everyday go-getter, who works and travels too much out there, keep it in check! There is a significant other back home feeding your kids, pets, plants, keeping your house in order while you wine and dine clients. You may think they are the Robin to your Batman, but it’s the other way around. Their job is as important, if not more than yours, and don’t forget it, because I have in the past and sometimes still do! I’m hoping this blog is a heeded warning for myself and many other “blinded” professionals, and not too late to save the only important relationships we have! Put 3 efforts into play this month. Put the phone down, unplug, listen and focus on her/ him. Experience the moment, breath and enjoy!

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