Like many business people, I was always in the challenge of having to balance my work time with my family time. And if I look back now, I have to admit I was deluding myself that I was getting this right.
I run a successful consultancy and I spent a big portion of my working life travelling around the globe working with many clients. I didn’t really get the impact of that time and travel until COVID happened and locked us all down and I had no other option than spend all of my time close to home..
You know, I was really proud that I’m a Platinum One flyer with Qantas, and that I received letters saying, “You travel more than our air crew.” I thought they were quite cool in many ways, and I got treated very well by Qantas for being this valuable customer.
I did talk with my wife many times though about decreasing how many trips I was doing and I kept saying it was going to be the last year that I’d qualify but it never really changed, I continued to fly just as frequently year after year.
I knew the impacts on my but I was always struggling with my fitness and health, because I was always on the move, spending a lot of time in first-class lounges and enjoying lovely food, so my weight was always a challenge and has resulted in daily medication to manage blood pressure and cholesterol.
Prior to COVID when I was home I did spend a lot of time with my family and I loved that time, I did also make a concerted effort to take two months out of my business a year for holidays with my family, but I think my learning during COVID has been, it’s not just about quality time, it’s about time.
I write a lot of blogs about how to improve the performance of businesses in the areas I specialise but, probably the single greatest thing that’s come out of COVID is, that having a successful life is about a balance between business and family and I did not have the balance between what I do and I was always justifying how my life was structured.
When COVID happened over a period of 48 hours, I had 75% of my regular business put on hold, not one of my clients cancelled, but they put all outsourced services on hold. Clearly, everyone was uncertain about what was going to happen and how that would impact the future of their businesses; I work with a lot of hospitality venues.
Fortunately, one major client did continue to work with me so, we always had some income, and we qualified for job keeper through the Australian government, so we managed to work through the COVID lockdown without it devastating the business and the lives of my team and suddenly it is December, and we’re in quite a strong position bringing 2020 to a close and moving into 2021.
Going back to when COVID happened, with only one client still onboard, I didn’t have as much work to do, so I focussed on reorganising my business and restructuring to ensure I reduce costs.
I am a planner when it comes to planning, I had a plan A, plan B and plan C based on what had happened.
I looked at all the roles that run the business, and I certainly became a leaner machine.
The result of the restructure was that I had a lot of time, in fact there were many days I just didn’t have much to do.
I would wake up, have breakfast with my family, do the work in my business that was required to continue to operate but also to innovate the businesses services during this time.
This extra time gave me the opportunity to support my daughter with her home-schooling and in the afternoons, I started walking with my wife, every single day, without fail.
I would always say, I hated walking, it’s just so boring and it took something to have me agree, and so I found myself doing it because I realised it was something she wanted to do with me and it would be a nice structure for us to spend time together.
What has surprised and delighted me the most is the outcomes that have shown up from this one commitment:
- after two to three weeks, I started to quite enjoy it. I felt my fitness and strength in my body improving.
- I had, had some serious knee issues that I had been going to a specialist about for some time, at the 6 week mark of walking everyday single day I went for my check-up to find that my knees had recovered so strongly that I no longer required surgery.
- and I also started losing weight, as I had taken on changing my eating habits as well. I’ve certainly learnt over my lifetime that just exercising is not enough.
I actually joined Weight Watchers and simply just started counting the food I ate, and this has been amazing.
I guess my point is and what I really want to share is – it’s taken a long time for me to readjust.
If I had been making these changes over a shorter period of just two or three weeks, I don’t think I would have fundamentally changed. But over these eight months, I’ve re-evaluated the whole way I’m living my life.
I feel my balance is much stronger.
I’m still walking up to six times a week and I’ve lost 15 kilos. I’ve still got another 14 to go, but I’m feeling so much better. And I had a medical check-up with my doctor last week who was absolutely over the moon with the difference in my stats.
COVID’s interrupted me and provided me with time to really review my life and lifestyle.
I will not travel the same, again. I’ve got clients overseas and therefore I do a lot of work overseas, but during this time we have been working together online and the feedback is that they are really happy doing the online workshops. So, I’ll probably just do one trip a year, instead of three.
It is a Win Win for both parties as it saves them a lot of money in travel costs from Australia to the US, or Australia to Dubai.
I’ve enjoyed having a slower life.
I’m one year off 60 and I have really enjoyed just having time.
I’m writing much more. I still need to work on my book, a bit of a block on that one. But I’m writing blogs on a regular basis and I have been published two or three times now, simply because I’ve got time.
My family, time is most important to me, we are all enjoying more time together and in fact my wife and I have become even closer, simply from spending more time together, all of these benefits have been really positive and have certainly changed my perspective on life.
I think the lesson is – that it can be really hard to change particular behaviours or specific perspectives when you are in it – it takes time and a strong commitment to make an adjustment, change a behaviour and reap the rewards.
I also found declaring my commitment and sharing my surprise and delight with others has created a deeper connection, they’re checking in with me and how I am going, I get messages “How’s it going? Are you still sticking to it? And I appreciate it.
I’ve set up new structures.
It doesn’t matter what time I get home now I still go for a walk.
I’ve got the structure of Weight Watchers with the app and I know how many numbers I should have. I still have food that I like and I don’t feel like I’m on a diet, in fact my wife said to me, “You just seem really calm about all of this.”
I’ve got time. I’m not running from one thing to another. It was an unsustainable way of living really, but I couldn’t get out of it.
So, I invite you to have a look and take the opportunity, as someone said to me the other day,
“When you are dying, you don’t normally say, I wish I had more money.” Normally the regret is, “I wish I spent more time with the people that I love.”
Let me know what you have changed during the COVID period and what structures you have put into place; I would be really interested to hear your inspiring stories.