My husband recently lost one of his closest friends to cancer.
I always try to look for the learning and opportunity in every situation. And sometimes, that’s difficult to do.
Over the past couple weeks we have spent a lot of time reminiscing over old stories, and looking at photos, laughing and crying, as we talked about life, work, and friendship.
In a post she shared on Facebook, Brian’s sister-in-law expressed her gratitude for his example, calling him “an incredible leader and a faithful friend and father.” She went on to say that he taught those around him “invaluable lessons about what is truly important,” and she learned from him to find purpose, love deeper, and dream way bigger.”
Times like these make me think about the choices we make in our lives. One of the best personal decisions I made was to start my own leadership coaching business to allow me the time and flexibility to do what I love in a way that supports my family and my desire to develop and empower others.
In her article, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware delves into the stories shared by her patients in the last days of their lives. The themes she outlines are topics that arise, in various ways, in the leaders that I coach.
It is easy to get sucked into the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget about what is most important. We don’t often make time for fun, our families, friends, or even ourselves.
The result is that you wind up feeling exhausted, burned out, and unfulfilled. Life is too short to be anything less than spectacular, but it’s also what you make of it.
In tribute to Brian and the legacy he left for his family and friends, I want to pay forward some thoughts over the next several weeks to help you live and lead with no regrets.
This week, we’ll tackle this common regret: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
No one gets to the end of their week (or life) and wishes they’d worked more! What you regret are the things you feel you missed out on.
With few exceptions, when I ask people why they work so hard the #1 reply is that they do it to support their families. The irony in that statement is that oftentimes people are so busy working they miss many opportunities to spend time with the people they love most.
You’ve heard all about building better “work-life balance.” I’m not even sure this is a thing. What we longingly call balance is just your life. And life is short sometimes, so live like every day is your last.
Here are 3 things you can do today to work a little less, feel happier, and have more fun:
1. Put down the phone and engage.
You’ve all seen it (or maybe you didn’t if you were the one with your head down!): a group out to lunch or dinner and every single person is tapping away at a device ignoring the actual people sitting next to them.
Why does this happen? FOMO. That’s right: Fear of Missing Out. When it comes to work, it’s the fear that some crisis will go unchecked and make you look bad.
The truth is, whatever it is can wait.
Take a break. Enjoy the company you’re with. Who knows—a conversation might even be exactly what you need to get more connected to those around you (whether it’s your co-workers or your family).
2. Change your schedule.
Do you often feel like you live to work instead of work to make a living? People all around the globe start their days early, work through lunch and/or dinner, then work some more once they get home. No wonder everyone’s exhausted!
The best tip to allow you some down time with your family and friends is this: Stop your work day at a set time each day. Doing this allows you to switch gears and better engage with those around you.
When you continue responding to emails late into the evening, it also becomes difficult to settle down for sleep. If you must check in after you get home, set a specific timeframe (like 30 minutes) well before you go to bed and stick to it.
3. Take time off.
When was the last time you took a whole day off without doing any work-related activity? Fill in the blank here: When I have the time I really want to ____________________________.
What I hear most often are things like I want to… read that new book or take my kid somewhere fun or start working out or have an evening with my spouse.
Whatever it is you want to do, you have to not just make time but take time! Take advantage of weekends and vacation.
Go do something fun that you enjoy and you’ll be able to get back to work with better energy and motivation.
In memory of Brian Fleenor, 1972-2016.