Do you experience conflict with your spouse regarding the delicate balance between the amount of time spent working and the amount of time spent with the family? Do you feel like you and your spouse just aren’t “on the same page” when it comes to how much time you are spending at work and the commitment required to run a successful business? I’m going to share with you three simple steps Tiffany and I took at the beginning of my real estate career that had huge impacts on our relationship and our unity at home.
CAST THE VISION
This absolutely must be the first step in creating unity between you and your spouse. You must first have a short (20-30 minutes max) “sit-down” with your spouse and go over your business plan. You should be able to show them in writing what exactly you are going to achieve in the specified amount of time. You should be able to show them exactly how you will achieve the goals and communicate the benefits to the family once the goals are achieved. Your spouse needs to be able to see the vision as clearly as you do! This is “Leadership 101”. No one follows a leader that hasn’t clearly articulated where they are going and how they intend to get there! The vision brings unity because now both of you are pursuing the same goal- for the same reasons. I think that many spouses have trouble “getting on board” because they haven’t seen a well thought out and specific strategy laid out in writing!
SET SPECIFIC BOUNDARIES
The key in this second step is to establish specific boundaries in your business as to what your work hours will be and what your off hours will be. When I began my real estate career I knew that I was going to need to work some evenings and weekends to get my business launched. I also knew that if I didn’t put a specific restriction on the number of evenings and weekends I was going to work that it could easily get out of control. After discussing the vision, Tiffany and I agreed that I would work 2 late nights per week (as late as I needed) and half of a day on Saturdays. These were the boundaries that WE established together! I no longer felt guilty about telling her I would be working late and she didn’t resent me doing it either. We were both striving for the same goal.
Now here is the second thing I found interesting about establishing boundaries and I think something we often fail to see. Many times it’s not that the boundary we set creates more time at home with the family. Something else more important happens when a boundary has been established…WE CREATE EXPECTATION. Our spouse and our family now have an expectation to look ahead to. They now see “light at the end of the tunnel”. If I worked late on Monday night, Tiffany knew I only had one more late night that week. That gave her strength. Leadership is about creating and communicating expectations for those following us. Imagine going out to run a race without knowing where the finish line would be. Is it a 5k or a marathon? We would never run the race without having an expectation of how long it is. When we don’t have clearly communicated boundaries with our spouse, we are asking them to run the race without any encouragement of knowing where the finish line is! This brings me to step three….
ESTABLISH A “FINAL” FINISH LINE– during specific seasons
This step is especially important if you are in the “launching”( meaning you are just getting your business off the ground) phase of your business or are trying to break through a plateau that will require extra work during a season. After setting the boundary that I could work 2 late nights per week and half of a day on Saturdays, we established an exact date that I would no longer work on weekends at all! I would still be able to work two late nights during the week but after a certain point we both agreed that we wanted the weekends to be work free. We picked a specific date (I believe it was about 12-18 months away) and on that date I stopped working a half-day on Saturdays. I remember that Tiffany would frequently tell me how excited she would be on that upcoming date. She was encouraged by the fact that the finish line was getting closer and closer!
Once again, this step is about creating expectation. Even after us looking at the benefits of the vision, we knew we were not willing to sacrifice our weekends as a family for an indefinite period of time. It simply wasn’t worth it to us.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS? WHAT HAS WORKED FOR YOU WHEN IT COMES TO ESTABLISHING BOUNDARIES BETWEEN WORK AND FAMILY?
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