For most of us, our income is directly proportional to our time spent working. For those of us who are independent professionals, it is even more true than it is for someone paid a salary.
I am currently in the process of building my insurance business and I am also a father to (almost) three young children (a 9 year old, 2 year old and almost a new born), a spouse and active member in my community.
To say the least, all of my time is at a premium. I work at least 6 days and 70 hours a week. My son plays baseball and soccer, I run a high school Rotary Club and I have a baby and wife that I like to see as often as possible.
So, as you can expect, the use and balance of my time is a constant focus. And I have spent the last 2 years since my son was born doing my best to maximize my time and making sure that I can valuably grow my career without missing out on my family time and to avoid waking up years from now not knowing the people I am working to support.
The question for me has really become:
Where is my time spent most effectively to generate value both now and in the future?
For any young professionals, or new parents growing their businesses, the following is how I have answered that question personally (though admittedly, it is still a work in process). I have really tried to analyze my life (and therefore my time) from a top down approach to give myself the best possible strategy.
The three things I focus on: (in this order)
You may look at the order of the list and think that I am a selfish, cold-hearted work-aholic.
I assure you I am not. The reason for the order is this. I am a firm believer that if I can grow personally, I can positively influence all areas of my life. So, if I focus on personal development, overtime I will be able to more efficiently and effectively grow my business and impact my children and family.
Because of that, I see the primary investment with the greatest ROI on time and effort spent is the focus on my development–the better I am, the better parent, spouse and professional I can become.
Now you’re still probably wondering why my professional development comes before my family development. It is simple–I have an awesome mother to my children and I work my tail off so she can stay at home and raise them.
Not only is she, in many ways, a better parent, but she works with me to organize our time to make sure I can have the time I need for both work and family. She is the president of our household and keeps me in the loop and scheduled effectively to spend as much time as possible with my kids.
On top of that, the faster I can grow my business the sooner I can spend more time at home. We both have made the calculated decision to have me work and her to stay home. Again, this is a question of ROI, the more hours I can spend at work the better I can make our lives. But, this isn’t a decision that is meant to be–work hard today to retire in 40 years having missed all the fun while my kids are young. In fact, it is entirely the opposite.
Again, it came down to a calculated decision. Because of my career choice–insurance is one of the few businesses that provides secure residual income and flexible working hours, I can work at optimal levels now to grow my business as fast as possible, then in 5 years, I will have built a system that can continue to grow with minimal daily requirements on my time.
Ultimately, the idea is that in 5 years, I will be almost completely independent and the hard decisions we have made now will have led to an early and lasting payoff.
Finally, for my family development, I try and never miss a sporting event or really any major event for my children. Grant Cardone once said (paraphrased here) “I am a good father but I am not and don’t want to be a good mother.”
I am hoping to emulate that idea. The real key for me is that if I can, with the help of my wife, make sure that I am tuned into my children’s lives, I can more effectively allocate my time. Like helping my son learn math or with his speeches, while she can work with him on lessor behavior issues at school.
But, the biggest thing is this…It is the central rule of my life: I make myself 100% available for my family. They are my most important client, boss and friend. I am never out of contact and I drop anything and everything when necessary to be there for them.
The only way I can be successful is to make sure they know that they have 100% of my attention 100% of the time that they need it.
In other words–when I am with them, I am really with them.
I won’t be on my phone during soccer games, even if as a trade off I have to work the rest of the Saturday to put out fires. And, just like a client, I am not checking email when I am with them. I dedicate sincere and complete focus to them for at least 2 hours a day and for an entire day on the weekends.
It is hugely important. Because, at least for me, if I am distracted, I should not be there at all. I finish my work then I have time to give complete focus to the family.
So, my kids may think I work a lot and at strange hours, but they also know they can rely on me to be there when they need me and to be there completely in those moments.
To maximize my time, I have had to be deliberate and intentional with every minute I have. I wake up by 5am to have time for me to develop personally ( I highly suggest everyone reads The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod). I take my son to school everyday and I work 12 hours/day, 6 days a week. But, that often comes with an hour for dinner with my family, an hour before bed with my wife and a trip to the park with my sons.
It is hard to use 15-16 hours a day effectively and I am not even close to as good as many higher performers. But, I work at it consistently. The hours I have are the only hours I have to build the life of my dreams, earn the income I want, raise my children how I feel they need to be raised and love my wife how she deserves. If I don’t use that time deliberately, why use any time at all?