How You Choose Between Work and Living Your Life

work life balance

“Daddy, come sit with me!” my daughter shouts, fidgeting on our cushy couch. 

“In a minute…” I reply.

I look at her for a moment as a I said it just so she knows I’m acknowledging her but I get right back into the grind of things, typing away furiously. I was in the middle of drafting a marketing plan for a client. It needed to be completed. Right then. Right there. If not, the whole world would explode and descend into chaos. Okay not really. But that’s what it felt like. Does that sound familiar? Has that ever happened to you? Maybe it wasn’t a child that needed you but a girlfriend, or a husband, a roommate, a parent, a sibling, your superhero dog.

If you’re like me, making that decision to pause things for a moment is the damned hardest thing to do. There’s a part of us that’s like “obviously, this can wait.” But, there’s another part of that us says “this cannot wait.” It’s this existential tug of war of “I have to work hard now so I can relax later” vs “I should relax now and work later.” What’s the right answer here?

I’ll tell you what I did next in my own situation. I looked back at my daughter, who had already moved onto whatever movie was on at the time (probably Minions, she’s obsessed with Minions). Then I glanced back at what I was doing. I shrugged. Saved my work. Immediately powered down. Hell, I even turned my phone off. I sat down next to my daughter. 

She looks at me and said, “I thought you had to work?” I told her it could wait. She smiled, snuggled up against me. My heart melted. It wasn’t a hard choice after all. But, let’s get real for a second. That’s a great moment. Honorable decision but that’s not going to happen all the time. Sometimes, she won’t get 100% of dad. Not if dad is trying to get elevate his position in the world and make sure she is provided for. 

So, if you're ever stuck in trying to choice, I have three tips (yes just three) that can help you firm up your decision. 

1) Analyze the Full Situation: Can work wait? Or is it deadline sensitive? If you don’t work on it now, will someone be royally pissed with you or will they not notice? Do you have to hang out at this very moment or maybe later? Do you need a break? Or not really? People have the most trouble with this because there are so many obstacles and variables we throw in the mix that we THINK are an issue that really isn’t.

Example: I once had a client who urgently needed a list of social media influencers to be put together for a specific campaign. He of course needed this 5 minutes from his request. And like most people, I responded quickly that we would take care of it and corresponded with my partner about next steps. Keep in mind he made this request at 9 pm. Which meant no matter what, he wouldn’t really do anything with this list until the next business day and he violated our trusty ‘ol “only during business hours” rule. So, what did we do? My partner and I both agreed… we’ll do it in the morning. And when we did, it was not the first thing we did either. We took our time with it. Not because we were purposefully being rude but because we understood that this list would take time to curate regardless and we would still need to clarify a few things before jumping the gun. Sure enough, when I spoke with this client, he forgot to mention a few critical details about the campaign, it really wasn’t urgent, and he 100% realized after he reached out, it wasn't wise to do it after business hours. It all ended up working out in the end because we analyzed everything and prioritized accordingly.

2) Ask yourself one critical question. This is a question that applies to everything you do in life… what will bring you the most satisfaction? There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s your life. So live it honestly. If you’d rather work, work. If you’d rather not, don’t. If you already analyzed the situation then you shouldn’t be worrying about this any longer. Which is why you have to be...

3) Be decisive. This is not a long, drawn out process. Make your decision. Get behind it quickly and move forward. Don’t waste too much times with that “what if’s” or the “maybe I should…” No. Be present. Stay in the moment and stand behind your decision. 

Btw, I’m writing this as I’m eating an ice cream cone with my little sidekick next to me watching… yep, you guessed it… Minions for the millionth f’in time. 

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Want to know which people choose? Life or Career? Check out a Twitter Poll I did. Write your own thoughts below in the comments section.