I am feeling like a bad parent because my actions are simply not lining up with what I have been saying or even believing was most important to me.
Coach, Your Schedule Never Lies
I have a confession to make to you today. I feel like a bad parent right now. We are a few weeks into the fall soccer season and every night this past few weeks my kids have come into my home office at 9pm with the phrase “mom, you’re STILL working!”.
I have always thought and said that my priorities were number one, family; number two, health; number 3 productivity/achievement; number four, financial security; and number five, fun-in that order.
If you ever ask me what is most important in my world, I will tell you, without hesitation, “My family.” And I mean it.
There is nothing and no one I love more than my husband and our two children. They are my world. And I truly believe that all my other priorities lined up behind them.
So what’s the problem? Where is the disconnect?
It wasn’t hard to spot the disconnect with a quick scan through my schedule. The way I have been choosing to spend my time tells a very different story: I go on frequent trips, I work seventy-plus hours a week, I give up family time on the weekends because I have yet another practice, game to coach in, or big week of projects due.
If my family were really my number one priority, they sure are getting pushed aside – and often for my supposedly less important priorities. My actions are simply not lining up with what I have been saying or even believing was most important to me.
Looking back at my schedule to see what I have been spending time on over these last few months was eye opening.
Almost all of my time and energy lately has gone into finishing one project and securing the next. Instead of focusing on my kid’s, I have been preoccupied with my business metrics. Instead of listening to how my husband’s day has been, I’ve been giving him the obligatory head nod while I scan my emails and respond to those I deem urgent.
I wasn’t really focused on any single thing-especially not on my family. But I had good reasons. At least I thought I did. I valued financial security for me and my family. I wanted those people, who meant more than anything else to me, to be well fed, well clothed, and comfortable. When I sat back and examined that line of thinking, though, I saw that my focus on financial security didn’t stem from my love for my family; it stemmed from fear. The subtle shift in my priorities had nothing to do with them at all.
I think all college coaches can relate that there is always a fear of losing your job. The fear of losing the next big recruit. The fear of not being able to make enough money to provide for your family. I often find that I am still driven by a deeply ingrained fear that I could lose my job at any moment.
To combat that fear, productivity had become my top priority, whether I was aware of it or not. And talking to countless other coaches after speeches I have been giving around the country, I see that this is the case for most of us. Whether you call it productivity or success or accomplishment or work, they all fall into the same bucket and many of us are literally addicted to it. Not only do we focus on tasks that keep us busy and aren’t highly consequential, but we focus on them to the detriment of what matters most to us.
When we work nonstop in this way, it is damaging to both our bodies and our brains. So right there, we are undermining our own health. Looking even further, we also undermine our family, our fun, our spirituality, and even our work (all at the same time) because we will ultimately burn ourselves out. If you really can have only one top priority, everything else is automatically bumped down the list.
But we don’t do this only with productivity-related tasks, we do it with lost of activities that just aren’t that important. Consider how much time you spend bingeing on Netflix or watching the news, surfing the internet, checking Facebook, having pointless conversations with other coaches in the office, or even playing games on your phone. Yes, all of these count against the time you spend on your highest priority.
If you have ever thought, I don’t have enough time to get to my top priority every day, it’s not necessarily that you don’t have enough time but more that you are spending your time on lower-priority activities that you are thinking of as high priority simply because you spend so much time doing them. Remember, your schedule never lies.
The number one priority in my life is to connect with and positively influence my children, and the only way to do that to the fullest is to spend quality time with them. The more I am with them, the more we deepen our connection and the more I can positively influence their development. So, from this point forward, I’m running towards that every chance I can get. It is scheduled and I am going to treat it as the most important part of my day, because it is.
If you resonate with anything I have said in this article, the most important thing for you to do is take a quick look back at your schedule for the last few months and see what you are really spending your time on. If your schedule is out of alignment with your priorities, acknowledge it and commit to making changes. Be honest with yourself. If you want work to be your priority, then commit to it and don’t feel guilty about it.
Have a great week.
Busy Coach President
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P.S. If you have found this article helpful, please share it with your staff or other work colleagues! Studying time and energy management over these last 8 years and applying it to my coaching and recruiting has been a game changer for me. I am committed to helping coaches get more important work done in less time so more time can be spent with family and friends. Thanks!