Ask the people who matter the most to you what they need from you and make those requests your top priority.
As we all know, it takes a lot to be successful in the financial services industry—a lot of hours, a lot of attention, and a lot of care for our clients so that we can succeed together. This can be so challenging for most of us that achieving “work-life” balance is like performing in a Greek tragedy.
Or is it? I argue that work-life balance isn’t all that it is cracked up to be, and it is not what we truly want. When we first meet with prospects, we have to get to know them. Even our compliance departments tell us that we must fill out a document to find out as much as we can about them. We must find out how many kids they have, who their accountant is, what their income is, where they want to retire, what their hobbies are, what charities they care about, the status of their health and their family history.
We are, in essence, their CPA/lawyer/family counselor/coach/financial advisor/doctor all rolled into one. We do all of this to get to know them very well so that we can do the best job for them.
We also sign up for every activity with our families, stretching our personal lives even thinner as we try to achieve work-life balance. But we are not. In reality, we are stacking more and more weight on ourselves until we fall down.
But why do we do this? Balance is not what we seek. As any high school psychology class will tell us, according to Maslow, once we fulfill our basic needs for food, water and safety, we turn to our psychological needs for friends, relationships and prestige.
Finally, and ultimately, we seek self-fulfillment needs, such as earning 13 ribbons at an insurance conference. (Yes, I am as guilty of this as anyone else.)
The question on your mind right now is probably: Danny, what does this have to do with simplifying my life, reducing stress and achieving this “balance” you say I don’t want?
I bring all of this up because we have to define what success means to us. We have to “fill out the fact-finders of our own lives,” asking the tough questions of those who support us in our daily pursuit of “making it.” Those we work so hard for need to be heard beyond their basic physiological and safety needs. Once we stop and take inventory of their needs and expectations, then we can abandon this notion of seeking “balance” and truly work on the most meaningful things in our lives.
To achieve your full potential and live a life of fulfillment, you have to begin with the end in mind.
How many of us wish we had more family time? When is the last time you asked your children how many family dinners they think you should have? When was the last time you wrote those items on the calendar because you know that every goal must be written down and shared? There must be accountability for it to be achieved.
When was the last time you asked your grandkids what they wanted to do with you this summer? When was the last time you asked your spouse what their goals and objectives are and which habits of yours bother or annoy them?
To truly reach your full potential and live a life of fulfillment, you have to borrow from Stephen Covey and “begin with the end in mind.” You need to ask yourself where you want to be.
To be successful at this, you have to be proactive. It is up to you to get started. Put first things first. Understand the roles you play in your life and which ones are the most important to you—father, mother, grandparent, business owner, salesperson, leader, spouse and partner.
Seek first to understand. What do the people who rely on you need from you? This means that you have to go and ask them and be brave enough to face the answers. You have to write down and share with them what you are going to work on this quarter in trying to identify what it is they need from you.
Spoiler alert: You will NEVER achieve all of these goals and you will never get all of them done. But in pursuing them, you will find what you seek since you will now be working toward becoming your best self to those who matter the most to you.