The following is adapted from Work–Life Harmony.
When my children were very young, my family and I went to Disneyland. While there, we sat on the curb of Main Street to watch a parade. My kids were entranced by the lights and colors, songs and characters, staring up with their mouths open and their eyes wide.
As they were watching, I was on the phone with someone for work, having a pretty heated conversation. Something I yelled attracted my kids’ attention, even over the sounds and sights of the parade. Their mouths snapped shut and their eyes got even bigger. They were worried!
That brought me up short. “What am I doing?” I wondered.
Here in this magical place, designed for children’s happiness, my kids were distracted by wondering what was going on with me and why I was so upset.
At that moment, I wasn’t living out my life’s purpose of loving them.
Purpose + Family + Work = Harmony
The people closest to you—your spouse, kids, family, and friends—might not have any idea how hard you work or how good you are at your job. And if that’s true, they likely have no idea the impact you make on your community every day.
I want to remove the shame you may have about work. Work is good. It’s okay to love what you do and to take pride in it. Work is probably really fulfilling for you, but your spouse and kids may not understand what it is you do all day, so they ask, “Why don’t we go on vacation more often?” Or, “Why don’t we go on more dates?” Or even, “I need more time with you.”
Without a purpose helping to create harmony, you’re not on the same page as your spouse and kids. Your kids, at times, resent you. You end up apologizing to your family: “I’m sorry, guys, I can’t do that. I have to go to work.” When you leave the house for the day, they say, “Ugh, you have to work again?!”
When you hear that, you likely bite your tongue, thinking of how hard you work. But eventually, you just can’t bite your tongue any longer…and then you snap. You might say something like, “Do you have any idea how hard I work for you?! How do you think we pay for this house, our cars, or your private school?”
You Need Cheerleaders
You don’t want your spouse and kids to resent the work you do or the time you spend at the office. You want your family to see you, to see what you do, and to support you. Instead of nagging, you need cheerleaders who tell you, “Go kick butt and have an awesome day pursuing that purpose. I’m proud of you!”
When you connect your work and family to your purpose, your children will celebrate you when you leave the house to go to work—not because you’re leaving but because they want to cheer you on for the impact you are going to have in the lives of other people. When you come home, your kids will ask about your day because they’re excited to find out what’s going on at work.
Your spouse will also be more supportive. When busy seasons arise, instead of stress, anxiety, or complaints when you have some more work to do after putting the kids to bed, your spouse might bring you a cold drink or massage your shoulders to help you relax.
Invite Your Family In
How do you go from resentment and nagging to turning your family into your most ardent supporters? By inviting your family and your work together, into your purpose. That is the key to creating work–life harmony.
Work–life harmony is different from work–life balance, which dictates, “Spend more time here, spend less time there.” Work–life harmony has nothing to do with how much time you spend at work or how much time you spend with your family. It’s about inviting both your family and your work into this amazing purpose you are pursuing in life.
No longer do you have a work-life and home-life. You have one life.
People feel like they have a work-life and a home-life because they live these two lives separately. They’re not present in their home life. Their most cherished relationships have no idea what’s going on at work.
When you invite your work and your family into your life purpose, that separation disappears and you are left with harmony. It’s time for you and your family to stand for something, to live for something, to point all actions toward a goal, so you’re all moving in the same direction together.
For more advice on how to connect your work and your family to your purpose, you can find Work–Life Harmony on Amazon.