Friends and colleagues have long wondered how I seem to squeeze so much activity into each day and still maintain a sense of balance. As a reformed workaholic, I have always had a tendency to be fully engaged throughout the day and usually maintain a full plate of faith, family and work-related activities. As I have gotten older and hopefully wiser, I have thought a great deal about how to make “time” work for me as I seek to grow as a Catholic, husband, father, business leader and servant of the community.
My research and a review of the National Center for Fathering website revealed that work/life balance is considered the #1 or #2 problem for the majority of working men in this country. I have heard first hand from men I encounter in the Catholic Faith@Work ministry I lead as well as readers of my first book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work (Liguori) that this all-consuming battle for balance and more time for faith and family is at epidemic levels. What is the solution to finding more time for what matters while still succeeding at work? There is no magic formula, but I would like to share three basic ideas for how we can begin to tame our calendars and achieve better balance:
- Do we have the right priorities? One of the main reasons men struggle with work/family balance is because we often have our priorities out of order. If we are living out our Catholic faith in all aspects of our lives (as we are called to do), we know that Christ comes first, followed by family and then work. The trap we often succumb to is thinking we must give our work most of our energy while leaving what is left over for Christ and family. All areas of our lives are made better when we keep Christ first. Our families will flourish because we will be living out our vocation as Catholic husbands and fathers. Our work will thrive under this new priority paradigm because it will be serving Christ and our families, not the other way around.
- We control our calendars; our calendars do not control us. The most common complaint I hear regarding time is: “There just isn’t enough space on my calendar for everything!” Who enters the activity into our calendar? I suggest putting prayer, family dinner, kid’s activities, etc. on our calendars as we would our work priorities. If you are like me, something is much more likely to get done if it is scheduled. Better work/life balance often starts with saying no to those things that are invading what needs to be reserved for God and family time
- Combine activities when possible. When I go for a run or get on the treadmill, I pray the Rosary. When I am traveling to or from work, I turn off the radio and pray or reflect to recharge my spiritual and mental batteries. My wife and I use our time going to the kids’ practices/activities to talk about life, faith or whatever is on their minds. If we want to serve in the community, we can take our spouses and children along and do it as a family activity. There are a number of ways to do this, but the combining concept is very easy to implement.
Let’s take control of our lives and not let the calendar become an excuse for avoiding what is important and necessary. I know in these difficult economic times it can be challenging to recalibrate our thinking about priorities, especially if we think it will affect how we earn a living. Time is precious and there are only so many minutes in the day, but I argue that we can more effectively integrate our faith, family and work without sacrificing our livelihoods. It comes down to recognizing the need, a sincere desire to change, creative scheduling and living out our vocation as husbands and fathers.
Let’s honestly ask ourselves each day if our work is serving God and our families or are God and our families serving our work. No other reminder should be needed.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was recently released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online and your local Catholic bookstore.
The Catholic Briefcase was recently voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.
Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith will be released by Liguori Publications on November 29th, 2012 and is available in your local Catholic bookstores, Aquinas and More Catholic Goods and on Amazon.
Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.
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