Throughout my life, I’ve met many workaholics and seen many cases of work burnout. I’ve seen men who have exhibited very successful careers but who have pursued fame and glory at the cost of neglecting their own health and families. As women move increasingly into the limelight, inevitably more women will also fall prey to the claws of work and its lure of success. Amidst the blazing light these leaders bask in, cries the question which also drums on my own heart: Does success at work really matter if it comes unaccompanied by personal success or success at home?
I currently have three boys in elementary school, and it’s a constant wrestle to intentionally allocate time to be a caring father to them. Work can be so busy, and it’s easy for me to rationalize and say, “I’m working hard now so I’ll be a success later and have time to spend with my kids.” However, the years fly by ever so quickly, and today is the proper time to intentionally allocate time to invest into our children, our spouses, our family and our friends. We need to break free of any definition of success which links it solely to the workplace and instead define success from the perspective of work, family, friends and our very own being.
CBS MoneyWatch recently asked for my input on a story regarding what truly successful people do after 5 PM. I took a few moments to pen the following thoughts down. As usual, there is nothing profound about the suggestions listed below; in fact, they are as common sense as brushing your teeth. However, in the midst of their commonness, they are very convicting, and I hope they make each of us pause to evaluate how we use the brief evenings allotted us.
What Successful People Do After 5 PM
1) Successful people take a break from work. (The next day’s Work to do list should have been already created before 5pm). They live multifaceted lives and apply value to each facet. Work has its appropriate place, and they place much value on the facet of work; however, they fiercely keep work from intruding into and dominating the rest of their lives. Simply put, they have lives outside of work.
2) Successful people invest intentional time into family: spouse, kids, grandchildren, and parents. They recognize that success at work is empty without success in their home and with their family. They attend kids’ games, help with homework, talk on the phone with parents, cuddle up in the chair reading a book to younger children.
3) Successful people invest time into friends. They don’t get so caught up with themselves and with their own pursuit of success. They actively exercise listening, while restraining from dominating the conversations. They strive to help their friends grow, but without coming across as being “pushy.”
4) Successful people invest into charitable causes, whether it be merely by financial donations or more actively helping through volunteering time or serving as a board member of a local nonprofit.
5) Successful people eat a healthy dinner, understanding the value of nutritiously investing into themselves and the corresponding returns they can expect.
6) Successful people exercise, channeling away pent up stress while strengthening their bodies and helping ensure a better night’s sleep.
7) Successful people keep up with their personal bills & finances, not letting all of that pile up or become an increasingly stressful distraction.
8) Successful people write a brief journal or diary entry noting the highlights of their day.
9) Successful people stimulate their mind and simultaneously relax by reading a chapter or two of a good book.
10) Successful people get a good night’s sleep.
What Successful People Don’t Do After 5 PM
1) Successful people don’t work into the wee hours of the night or mistakenly equate “one who works much” with “hard worker.”
2) Successful people don’t constantly and habitually check their work email.
3) Successful people don’t bring the stress of work home or let it eat away into their sleep or let the stress of work create friction with their relationships with family and friends.
4) Successful people don’t stay up excessively late at night, hoping to do well the next work day on just a few hours of sleep.
5) Successful people strive for self control and don’t try to temporarily drown out the stresses of life through excessive drinking.
6) Successful people don’t ignore family and friends with the excuse of pursuing success at work.
7) Successful people don’t neglect their bodies by fueling with junk food or by rationalizing they are too busy or too tired for exercise.
My quickly jotted lists above are pitifully far from complete. Feel free to share your thoughts and additions in the comment section below.
A successful person can still follow the 10 step list above and do well in life but go to sleep feeling an aching void each night. Along with the first question about success which I poised in the opening paragraphs, there is even a deeper question we ask ourselves: “Is what I’m doing of any real importance?” “Does what I do really matter?” “Why am I here?”
I love going outside at night, looking up at the stars in the sky, and doing some “deep contemplation” over the things of reality.
Life flies by very quickly. We spend the years of our youth always looking forward to being older; however, once we approach middle age, we search in vain for the brakes on the ever accelerating train of life.
Success can become merely an empty bubble we live in unless we have unearthed meaning to our lives. I dabbled in atheism many years ago, but have come full circle since then. In conjunction with Biblical writers, key writers who have had an influence on me include Ravi Zacharias, C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Lee Strobel, David F. Wells, and Randy Alcorn. I encourage you to swing over to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble and browse through some of those authors’ books. One might catch your eye and be worth the read. You never know what might happen next. I consider myself to be an intellectual, and I’m not one to easily or quickly change my core beliefs. It’s taken years of wrestling for me to reach the place where I am today.
I challenge you to stop muffling the deep questions within and start searching for answers while you still have the ability. Don’t spend your entire life climbing Success Mountain only to realize that once you’ve reached the pinnacle, you are all alone.
Image credits: First by Liv Friis-larsen/Fotolia; Second by get4net/Fotolia; Third by Monkey Business/Fotolia; Fourth by olly/Fotolia; Fifth by Fotolia.