Who created the 40-hour work week? Better yet, who still gets away with working a mere 40 hours a week?
If you are feeling like the whole work-life balance thing is out of whack these days, you are not alone. Recently, the CEO of a $2 trillion company resigned when it was brought to his attention that he had missed 22 of the milestones in his 10-year-old daughter's life. His daughter was the one who let him know.
According to his essay in Worth, Mohamed El-Erian, the 56-year-old CEO of PIMCO investment fund, recently found himself frustrated with his daughter when she did not immediately do something he asked her to do. After several requests, he got stern and reminded her that he shouldn't have to ask her to do something more than once.
El-Erian's daughter used the teaching moment to serve up a little lesson of her own. She presented her father with a list of nearly two dozen lifetime milestones that he had already missed in her life due to his demanding work load.
"The list contained 22 items, from her first day at school and first soccer match of the season to a parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween parade. And the school year wasn’t yet over. I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos...," recalls El-Erian.
But the moment was a wake-up call for El-Erian. He realized that his work-life balance was tilted in the wrong direction. And his relationship with his daughter was suffering as a result.
He resigned shortly thereafter.
El-Erian was the first to admit that he had the luxury to change his lifestyle in a way that most working parents do not. But his story calls into sharp relief a situation that many families face.
After working all day, shopping for groceries, doing the laundry and paying bills, family time for most working parents comes in small sips between shuttling kids to and from activities, helping with homework and nagging about cleaned bedrooms.
But El-Erian's story is a lesson from which all of us — whether we work in the corner office or on the bottom floor — can learn. It is up to us to make time for our families, because no one else is going to do it for us. And if we don't make time for our kids now, there won't be any time to share with them later.
Sure, we all can't afford to quit our jobs and rearrange our lives. But we can afford to shut down the computer, turn off the TV and silence the phone for a few hours each night so that our we can restore a little balance to our lives. And we can afford to pass on this season's fashions or enroll our kids in fewer activities if it will mean fewer hours of necessary overtime to pay for them. But we can't bear to lose another precious minute of family time with our kids.
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