Marketing Truth Serum

Are You Leading Your Family Into This Disastrous Illusion?

Do you know where the bulk of your inspiration comes from?

Like some kind of brilliant flash of genius the other day, I realized that most of my greatest inspiration (especially when it comes to my business) has come from times when I was chilling with the family. Not from reading an incredible blog post, or working my way through someone’s free guides for entrepreneurs, or even chatting with folks in the most amazing community ever. Although all of those are indeed very inspiring, the quality time I spend with my beautiful wife and girls is where most of my greatest business ideas comes from.

Quantity or Quality

How much quality time do you spend with your family? Not how much time, but how much quality time? Do you know the difference?

Many folks think that just because they run their business from home and are around the family all day means that they’re spending more quality time with the kids or with their spouse. I know, because that used to be me. The thing is, I might as well be running my business from an office somewhere else when I’m working. I’m not really paying any attention to what’s going on in the living room. I’ve even tried working in the living room just so I could be visible by the girls while I work (as if proximity had anything to do with it). Sure, I’m spending “time” with them, but there’s no engagement or even any real parenting for that matter. I might as well not even be there.

The Quantity Family

We’ve all been around the family that seemed to have it all – money, toys, spontaneous vacations, etc.. However, the kids are often terrible, with no respect for their parents, and the husband and wife might as well be two angry ex’s that happen to be in the same place. I bet at least one, if not both, of the them is a workaholic and a slave to their “perfect business model“.

This isn’t how they started. Once upon a time they loved and respected each other, but somewhere along the line the system began to break down. The inspiration and motivation that originally fueled the entrepreneurial spirit, slowly became the poison that tainted the family’s success.

The workaholic spends every waking minute thinking about work. Always responding to every email as soon as it hits the inbox, always taking calls, always on the pulse thanks to his handy dandy “smart” phone, and never really gives full attention to those around him. As a result, the wife and kids know that his work is more important than they are. At first they accept it because he supports the family and he does a very good job at it. Eventually they’ll start to resent the business and him. It’s almost as if he has created an entirely new family that they have to compete with. Sure, he may spend a lot of time around them, but he’s not spending any time WITH them.

It’s easy to let building a business for your family’s future and success become your excuse to work all the time and not have to deal with them. Strangely enough, we can spend so much time focusing on business that it can become easier than spending time and interacting with family.

That’s messed up.

Did this hit close to home?

If any of this sounded a little too familiar, it’s time for you to reevaluate your priorities in life. Maybe even rethink how you view success.

Do you feel like you’re slowly heading down this path?

If so, now is the time to act.

Explain in the comments below how your going to turn this train around and get your family back on the right track.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah

Great post, Andy. I don’t have kids but one of the reasons I want to develop my own business is that if I do have them in the future, I can be around (and preferably raise them on a beach!). I think the lure of workaholism is incredibly damaging to family life – I saw it in a lot of families when I was growing up and know that’s a risk for me too.

How did you strike a balance between your commitments to work and earning money, and important family time? Do you have rules about it?

Reply

Andy Fogarty
Twitter: @AndyFogarty

To be honest Hannah, I don’t think I’ve hit that balance yet. Not that I’m completely off balance, but I feel like I can do much better. I’ll probably always feel that way as long as the kids are living at home (just part of being a parent).

I definitely have rules. It’s important to have rules set for yourself even if you haven’t settled down yet. Building a business takes a lot of work from every aspect of your life and it will totally consume you, if you let it. A 9-5 will do the same.

Set simple rules like:
Setting how many hours a day your going to work – a stick to them. (this is the hardest for me because I’m always being inspired)
Get physical – do something active. Play with the kids outside, walk the dog, work in the yard, anything
Set you goals with your family in mind and reevaluate as your family grows in size and age.

My first business was welding & manufacturing business. This was before we had our two little girls. After our second was born, I realized that the business I had been working so hard on wasn’t going to fit the form that my family was taking. It was a very tough decision to change my focus, but one that I don’t regret.

Reply

Elizabeth Cottrell (RiverwoodWriter)

This balance thing is a lifelong journey, Andy. My children are now grown, but when they were turning 10 and 12, my 40th birthday present to myself was to get a complete history and physical. It turned up a pre-cancerous condition that I was able to take care of, but while I was waiting for test results, I totally reevaluated my life. At the time, I was not working outside the home, but I was so embroiled in community and civic activities, that if I had died that year, the main memory my children might have of me was going out the door to another meeting. I made some significant changes to my schedule and activities so I’d be home more when they were home.

I was lucky. My wake-up call was something fixable, but too often it takes a true life crisis to make us realize our lives are out of balance. Thank you for this important reminder that this kind of introspection should be done with some regularity and before circumstances force us to to so.
.-= Elizabeth Cottrell (RiverwoodWriter)´s last blog ..Prayer offers a less busy heart =-.

Reply

Andy Fogarty
Twitter: @AndyFogarty

Wow Elizabeth that’s an amazing story and so true that many times it takes something life altering to make us think about these things. I can’t imagine how a situation like that would make you think about every little thing in your life. On the flip side though, I bet you get the most out every minute you spend enjoying your family.
Thanks so much for sharing your story.

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Elizabeth H. Cottrell

You’re more than welcome…and thank YOU for creating community and promoting your community members by setting things up so that a link to my blog shows after my comment. That is very cool.

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Dustin | Engaged Marriage

Superb post, my friend. As someone who writes about marriage and family life, and also has WAY too much going on, I can definitely relate to this trap.

I had a turning point earlier this year that culminated with a post of my own called “Do You Practice What You Preach?” It was one of those posts where you’re writing it for your community, but you know you’re really talking to yourself. I’m sure you can relate.

Since that time, I’ve become real careful about setting boundaries with my time and sticking to it (and getting nailed by my wife when I don’t). For example, every evening between the time I arrive home from work and when the kids go to bed is “no computer time” so I avoid those distractions.

Likewise, the first 15 minutes after the kids get to bed is our “Couple Time” for my wife and I to talk without distractions. After that, we’re free to do our own things as we please. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish in 15 minutes per day. In fact, spreading that message has become a big part of the mission at Engaged Marriage.

It’s vital.

Reply

Andy Fogarty
Twitter: @AndyFogarty

This year has been my turning point as well. It’s still a constant juggling act trying to find that “sweet spot”, but I’ve set my own personal rules and I’m constantly reminding myself the real reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing. It really helps to have that accountability partner too ;-)

Thanks Man!

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Rod Watkins

First, great article. Extremely relevant to many people. I’ll add you to my RSS.

About a year ago I moved to southern NH. It was an opportunity that came up, and so I moved my family there. We simply love it. But I am finding it a real challenge to balance being at home, but not connecting with my family. I think it makes it even worse than if I left for the day, but came home and spent it only with them. Summer is even worse. My son is home and I feel terrible when he is bored. I once heard a pastor state that “love” for children equates with time spent with them, and it is never enough. But the Internet is a bottomless pit that can consume every waking moment. After reading your article I have decided to take tomorrow off and take my family to the White Mountains.

Reply

Andy Fogarty
Twitter: @AndyFogarty

Hey Rod,

That’s a great idea. It really says a lot to your family when your willing to just stop everything to spend some “unscheduled” time doing something out of the ordinary. I just had a weekend like that myself. Too bad we can’t do it all the time :-)

Reply

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