So, what are your priorities in life?
It’s an important question for the work at home mom or dad because the chances are you’re going to list your family as priority number 1 and your business as priority number 2.
And if we’re honest, in reality these priorities are often switched, with your business being the top priority and family life coming second (the logic being we need to make the business in order to care for our family).
That’s perfectly understandable because on some level it feels right, after all, you have to put a roof over your family’s head and food on the table, so if the laundry doesn’t get done but the bills get paid we feel rightly justified in our decision.
And that’s fine all the time it’s working out for you.
However, if it’s not really working out for you and despite all that you do you’re still struggling to progress your business, your home life is miserable and it’s all tipping you closer to breaking point–your top priority needs to be YOU!
As a parent working from home you’ve set yourself a massive challenge and if you’re going to get through it you need to be the best you can be.
Priority #1: You
It’s absolutely vital that you look after number 1.
You need to be at your best physically and mentally, but you won’t be anywhere near your best if your relationships are strained, your health is deteriorating and you’re living in an environment of constant chaos and disorder. Sure, you can get by like that for a while but it’s not a good strategy for long term success.
You are amazing and fantastic and totally awesome with huge potential to achieve great things, but unless you’re emotionally and mentally resilient, with a strong sense of self-belief you’re unlikely to do what needs to be done to realize your potential.
- Invest in yourself and stack the odds in your favor.
- Work on your personal development so that you can grow beyond the fears and worry that hold you back.
- Do more of the things that matter and less of the things that don’t.
- Get emotionally invested in fulfilling a dream or higher purpose.
- Don’t allow other people to waste your time and don’t you dare waste your own time.
- Learn to say ‘no’ to other people.
- Get enough sleep so that you can function with a clear head.
- Do things that constantly reinforce self-belief and prove to your own mind that you’re capable.
- Take small steps, look for little victories, and allow those wins to spur you on to do more and achieve more.
- Protect your most valuable and productive state of mind and don’t allow it to be eroded.
- Create and maintain a great environment in which to live, with love and laughter.
- Look after your body and your health.
- Exercise a little more and eat a little less.
- Eat better.
- Read more books, watch more TED Talks, watch less TV.
Priority #2: Your Family
I don’t know why you’re doing this work at home thing, but I’m doing it because I want to share an amazing life with the people I love.
Working from home has meant that I’ve been there for so many of the precious family moments, and that’s absolutely priceless.
Perversely though, I’ve found that working from home often means working even longer hours and even though you’re there in your home with your family, you might as well be a million miles away.
It’s easy to become too wrapped up in the business, feeling so desperate to make it work at all costs, that you push your family away.
For short periods of time most families will understand your need to get absorbed in your work, but if they feel you are constantly neglecting them, they’ll feel distant and excluded.
If you work from your kitchen table as I do, your family are going to spend a lot of time looking at the back of your head, so when you turn to face them it’s better to have a warm smile on your face and not a scowl.
An angry exchange is a most effective way to dent your concentration, creativity and productivity. If bad feeling lingers and you spend all day reliving the incident in your mind, you won’t be able to focus on getting the work done.
Make time to be with your family, they’ll be the ones to share in your triumphs when you’ve achieved the success you’re hoping for and they’ll be the ones to pick up the pieces if it doesn’t work out.
If your relationships start to break down it can be hard to repair them while you’re working on your business, especially when you encounter problems with work.
Priority #3: Your Business
Whatever it is you do that you call working from home, whether it be studying for professional qualifications, blogging, working remotely as an employee or as an entrepreneur, it’s a major priority.
It’s probably so important to you that it’s become an obsession and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, except where it causes you to neglect yourself or your family.
Priorities change depending on what other factors are at play. There will be times when work becomes your top priority and you put it ahead of your own needs and your family’s needs and that’s OK for a short while.
And just because work is not your highest priority doesn’t mean it’s not high priority. Number 3 is pretty high up the list of priorities considering how many other interests or obligations are competing for your time and attention.
Be flexible. Use common sense.
There might be some guilt associated with putting yourself first but it’s necessary, just as when you’re on an aircraft that suffers sudden decompression, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist others, including your own family, or you might not be able to help them at all. (You didn’t think you were going to get away without hearing the oxygen mask analogy did you? BTW it takes just 30 seconds to lose consciousness at 35,000ft so put your own mask on first!)
Setting priorities gives you a default position to return to when you lose track of what you’re doing and why. Undoubtedly there will be times when your focus unwittingly drifts and when it does you know what you need to do.
How you choose to prioritize is up to you, but for me, the revelation about putting yourself first comes from personal experience. I’ve tried all the other combinations and this one is by far the best.
While you still have the choice put yourself and your family ahead of business, do so, before you’re forced to.
If your relationships or your health fail, it’s not looking good for your business!
Picture Credit (Creative commons)