My husband and I were watching the show Shark Tank recently when one of the investors said, “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40.” We chuckled and gave a hearty, not of approval from the comfort of our couch, fully aware of the truth behind that statement. We both live our lives at a break-neck pace, rarely stopping to slow down and take a breath. But recently, I’ve realized something that is both humbling and frightening: if I never slow down, who will be there when I finally reach the elusive finish line that I’m running towards?
If you ask me about the most important things in my life, I’m going to throw a very people-driven list your way. “Friends, family, and my husband” are always going to rank amongst my top five because nothing makes me feel alive and purposeful than investing in relationships. However, the sad reality is that I spend the majority of my time on my work, as I assume true for many of you. I have the luxury (and the curse) of being self-employed, and I genuinely do love my craft. Because of that, it’s far too easy to use work as a distraction from the things that really matter.
The sad reality is that the majority of us fit the cliche’; we spend too much time building a living and not enough time building a life. We placate ourselves with the lie that we will make time for our people later and we’ll call them back tomorrow. The problem with that mentality is that work will inevitably hand us a new to-do list when we clock in the next day, and our people will continue to get pushed to the side.
The idea of reaching an end goal in my career seems far-fetched, but even with little milestones, it’s important to me to have those I love present to celebrate. I could never have accomplished one tenth of the things in my life without the network that supports me, and if I want that support to be sustained throughout the long-haul, prioritizing is crucial. So ask yourself, are you willing to say no to work to say yes to people?
I get that it’s hard. Work sustains us; it feeds us,it pushes us forward. I’m not talking about quitting your job and becoming a ski bum; I’m talking about the small decisions. Can you skip happy hour to eat dinner at home with your kids? Could you go in a few minutes later to drink coffee with your spouse? Would calling a friend that needs you take precedence over decompressing on your commute? If the answer in your head to all of these questions is a jumble of, “No, you don’t understand, it’s just crunch time right now; I’m so overwhelmed…etc.,” then you have your answer.
Maybe no one understands your workload, but you won’t have anyone to talk to about it if you keep saying “later.”
Your career will change drastically over the course of your lifetime, but your ability to foster long-term relationships starts early. Don’t miss out on what really matters because you’re too consumed with your next deadline.