Finding time for family and friends, a demanding task for most!


January, the beginning of a new year and the traditional time for small business people like you and me to think about change, improvement, and new challenges. Among my business resolutions for 2011 is one that may look as though it has nothing at all to do with improving the bottom line; but I believe it is the most important promise I can make to make this year better for business than last.
I found myself back in my office after the Christmas and New Year break full of good intentions to “work smarter” and a blank white board on the wall above my printer. That whiteboard is usually full of scrawled notes and a sort of organic TO DO list that morphs from week to week as the year unfolds. Before I shut down shop on Christmas Eve, I took a wet cloth and wiped it clean. Now, in the cold light of an early January morning, it haunted me.
I started to make a list of things that are going to be important to me and my business in the coming year. What surprised me was that of the first five or six line items, three had to do with spending more time with my family. It dawned on me that like many of my friends, business associates and customers, the economic pressures and the stressor of keeping a business going for the past 18 months or more, have had a detrimental effect on my quality of life.
Specifically, business has got in the way of me leading a balanced life with the relationship I enjoy with my family getting pushed aside in pursuit of professional development. Wow, I thought, how did I lose the thread? My preoccupation with work issues have migrated from my desk to the supper table and beyond. Am I really that guy sitting down to eat with an iPad in hand texting last minute instructions to a printer, while my wife answers emails from her office  on her Blackberry?
A recent study by Sylvia Ann Hewlett suggested that as many as 1.7 million Americans cite globalization and the fear of dropping living standards as the source of excessive demands at work. Hewlett, author of The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek,is an economist and the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP), a nonprofit think tank. Her group also reports that up to half of top corporate executives have considered leaving their positions due to excessive stress and time demands. No figures exist for small business owners in the scuba industry – that I am aware of – but I’d lay decent odds that the numbers would correspond.
CWLP is not alone raising concerns about life balance. A Canadian Government website reports that "average workers spent 45 minutes less with their family during workdays in 2005 than they did two decades earlier. Based on a 260-day work year, that amounts to 195 hours less, or the equivalent of about five 40-hour work weeks."
Translate however you wish, that time means missing your kid’s school play, soccer practice, parent-teacher meetings, and just sitting around having fun. It is also the reason why so many relationships are strained.
And so, even though I am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions and new brooms at this time of year, the top of my TO DO list starts with a vision of relationship and family, which means I am going to create the time I need to enjoy the people who make me happy and who make the biggest difference to my life.
Lucky for all of us that we are in the dive business! It makes it a bit easier to plan a getaway and “drag” the family along to participate in the social aspects and the group dynamics even if diving is not in their repertoire!
I believe that above all, making time for YOUR family and personal life this year will be good for your business.


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