For a seesaw to work well, it must be in balance. The fulcrum is your family. On one side of the seesaw is your career, and on the other your community and spiritual needs. You use family time to balance your desire for a successful career with these commitments, to set your priorities and goals, and to establish a “life plan” with your spouse.
A life plan is your vision of your future. It’s how you plan to raise your family, run your business and participate in your community. A life plan is an evolving process—you need to continually review and reevaluate your decisions as you experience life-changing events or establish new goals.
What does a life plan include? Let’s start with the work cycle. Success in our business requires long hours of work and study, and you never stop learning. With my work cycle, I worked as long as I needed from Monday through Thursday.
Know your schedule
During the week, I tried to be home for dinner with my family. One of my daughters once asked my wife why we ate dinner so late, normally at 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., when her friends were eating at 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. My wife’s response was that this was the time when I could be home. This seemed like a perfectly logical answer to my children, so they never asked again. Friday night, however, was a family dinner night. I needed to be home at a normal hour to spend the evening with my family or attend one of the Friday night school, community or religious functions.
Saturday was a day or evening for my wife and I to do whatever we wanted to do without the children—a dinner, a movie, an art show or a visit with friends. Sometimes we hired a babysitter to be with the children while we went into another room to just watch TV without interruption.
It is also important for your spouse to have his or her own interests or studies, and for you to encourage those interests. It will help maintain your spouse’s self-esteem.
A LIFE PLAN IS YOUR VISION OF YOUR FUTURE.
Sunday was a day for the children—to do whatever they wanted to do, within reason. It could be as simple as a picnic in the park or a hike through the woods. It might mean going into the city to see a play, going to an amusement park or just going shopping at the mall. The point to remember is that this was the children’s time, and work with clients or at the office was not to interfere with family time. Another point to remember is that you have the ability to set your schedule during the work week to attend their school and community functions, and it’s important for you to do this.
A vital goal is teaching your children a good work ethic—is is one of the most essential goals you can accomplish in their early development. Teach them about completing a job in a timely manner, and doing it well.
Business goals should be set while considering the needs of the family. Family involvement helps your family buy in to these goals and understand your need to reach for the next level of achievement.
When you set goals, always consider what impact they will have on your spouse and children and the people around you. If the goals will adversely impact the important people in your life, they are not worth pursuing.
Community activities are another area where family involvement is important. You need to determine how the community involvement will affect family commitments and career goals. How much time will it take? What happens if you are asked to take a leadership role? How much weight will this put on your family time’s seesaw?
Remember that family time is all about balancing your family, business, community and spiritual needs and keeping your priorities in order. Family first. Everything else, second!
Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, served as the 2002 president of MDRT and has been chairman of the Top of the Table. A member of MDRT since 1975 and of NAIFA since 1967, he is the recipient of the MDRT Foundation’s Circle of Life award. A member of Mahoning Valley AIFA, his address is The Feldman Agency, Fremar Building, P.O. Box 30, East Liverpool, OH 43920.