Stop Chasing the Myth

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Our lives are full of myths. Old wives’ tales. Superstitions. Here a few of the more popular myths.

– Most of your heat is lost through your head.

– Gum takes seven years to digest.

– Sugar causes hyperactivity in kids (really?).

– Lightning never strikes twice.

– Peeing on a jellyfish bite will make it hurt less.

None of those are true, despite any anecdotal information to the contrary. Trust me—I looked them up. We avoid walking under ladders or change paths if we see a black cat. You might worry if you break a mirror or feel more confident in your lucky underwear.

If you think people that believe these things are crazy, I have to ask you about your behavior watching your favorite sports team. Ever change seats thinking it will change their performance (or refuse to move in case it does)? Wear or not wear certain things to help your team win? Bud Light had a commercial where they showed fans doing strange things, and the tagline was “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”

One of the biggest myths we chase is the one about work-life balance. Try as you might, you can’t find it. It doesn’t exist. You can’t do it all. There is always more work that could be done. It’s impossible to attend every event and still keep your job. If you’re at work, you regret missing your son’s field trip. If you went on the field trip, odds are you spent the whole time feeling like you should be checking your email or making phone calls.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

So what are we supposed to do? We have to work to provide for our families. We also want to be loving husbands and present fathers. If balance is a myth, what is our response? I say you should get M.A.D.!

The first thing to do is change the way you Measure success. Many times we try to win at everything every day. World’s Greatest Dad. Employee of the Month. Number 1 Husband. The thing is, you can’t win every award every day. So stop measuring your success by the hour, day or even week. Focus on the areas where you want to win each day, and accept the losses. Don’t beat yourself up because you missed your daughter’s softball game while you were out of town on business. Win at work that day, then be sure to win at being her dad on another day. Over time, you will win at what’s most important.

This Awareness will bring your life into focus. As you become more aware of where you are succeeding each day, you understand the power of your decisions. You can choose what is most important. Do you want to spend 4 hours in the yard, or seize the opportunity to take your wife for a picnic lunch? Why do you want the immaculate lawn anyway? Do you get a prize for it? Is it worth the effort and focus? The yard isn’t going anywhere. Make sure your wife doesn’t either.

When you are aware of the power of your focus and measure success accordingly, your Decisions become clear. Every time you say “Yes” to someone, you say “No” to something else. As you apply these principles to your decisions, you can choose the “Yes” you want to make. Make sure it’s worth it. Sometimes you have to put aside the good to pursue what’s better. One way I have applied this in my life is with volunteering at church. My 13-year old son and I would like to say “Yes” to help our church in some way. That’s a pretty good “Yes,” I think. However, if we did that, my wife and daughter would not come to church with us. I would be saying “No” to attending church as a family. By saying “No” to volunteering, I say “Yes” to my family. We go to church every Sunday morning, then go out for lunch afterward. Together. As a family. I choose what I said “Yes” to.

About the Author: Paul McDonald is an author and teacher at Queens University. He writes at theoriginalpmcd.com when he can find the time to say “Yes” to it. He has a wife and four children and lives in Charlotte, NC.

1 Comment

  1. George Mills

    This was a very good article. It puts the challenge of work life balance in its simplest form for me to understand how to try to manage it.


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