We say this. We convince ourselves of it. But do our actions show it?
How many times do we choose family to the detriment of our work or career? Rarely. Because we convince ourselves in the moment that we can do both. That we can stay late, take on that extra project, miss dinner this one time, etc. and then still support our family the way we need to (Note: your family deserves better than “good enough.”)
Work typically wins out for a few key reasons:
1) Work is blocked out on the calendar and gets our best hours each week. Our family, home, and everything else typically gets what’s left over…which isn’t always much. What is accounted for on the schedule typically wins against what is not. So it is far more often that work encroaches on family rather than the other way around. Instead, block off time for your family the same way and protect it more fiercely than you protect your work schedule.
2) Our work is almost always more urgent and immediate. While the support of our children and marriage, while important, can often be done later (i.e. not urgent). But later doesn’t always happen. Learn to make decisions and act based upon Importance, not just Urgency. Otherwise, you’ll never get around to the important stuff.
3) When we respond to an urgent work demand, it is usually at the expense of some small, incremental, less quantifiable sacrifice to our family. So it is easy to dismiss it as insignificant. But years of these repeated, small sacrifices add up to something significant indeed.
It doesn’t mean work should never win, but don’t assume it always must win. Remember, your work is first and foremost for your family and your home. If you are not overflowing your home first, then you are short-changing your family and yourself.