Do you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family?

Many of the clients I coach feel guilty about how little time they spend with their families. They choose amongst their goals, a goal on work/life balance or time management to find a way to fit more time into their busy schedules for their families.

Their commitment to their work, driven by factors such as a need to prove themselves, career aspirations, job retention, making more money, work ethic, determination to succeed, cloud their thoughts. They want to spend more time with their loved ones but cannot find a way to do so and are locked into a way of life that is predominately work related.

Routine brings structure to one’s life but can become habitual and invariably the routine focuses on work. A busy person may feel that they need to work a 12 hour day, bring work home and work some part of the weekend, to cope with the work load. This becomes something they do routinely. They can’t see any other way. It is a habit and it is hard to break.

But is it?

Lets first explore that guilty feeling. How guilty do you feel? Is it something that worries you a lot? Do you think about it constantly? Is it nagging at you? Is it something you want to change?

If your answer is mostly yes, then you are at the first step to making a change – the desire to do so.

I recall George, an owner of a Retail motor dealership in a small country Town telling me how much he regretted not spending more time with his son when he was younger and his son, a young boy. He wished he could turn the clock back and do things differently. An incident that he painfully remembers was when he was working on a customer’s car in his workshop over the weekend, his son crawled under the car to join him.

He was concentrating on a particularly difficult task that was frustrating him. As is son lay besides him watching him work, he kept asking his father questions about the car he was working on until George became angry and told him sternly not to bother him while he worked. His son silently slid away from him and from that day onward stopped joining his dad when he worked over the weekends. He avoided visiting George at his dealership and showed no further interest in the business. When he was older he moved away to take up a career elsewhere.

Now that George was retiring, he was looking to sell his business whereas he had hoped his son would take over and keep the business within the family. He had worked hard all his life and would retire comfortably but at what cost? Had his son carried on the business, he and his family would be living in the same Town as his father and George could have had a continued interest in the business during his retirement as well as a his grand children nearby.

I’ m not sure George ever felt guilty about working over weekends rather than spending time with his family. The pressure of work and the determination to grow his business kept him away from his family until it was too late to change his work/life balance. He may have felt obliged to continue to spend more time on his business even when it was established. Whatever was driving him, over–working had become habitual.

Should you have that guilty feeling and before regret sinks in, perhaps it’s time to change. It is not easy to find a solution or make a change but if you are resolute in finding a way, you will do so.

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