The Today Show featured a segment recently about people over 50 getting fired and how it changed their lives for the better. One guest, Lee Kravitz, author of Unfinished Business, took stock in himself after he was laid off and realized that he had become disconnected from the people who mattered. His book chronicles some of the things he meant to do before but never had the time because he was too busy working. Sound familiar?
It's easy to get caught in the trap where the focus of your life is work with little time available for friends and family. Most people know this, but fool themselves into thinking that things will magically slow down next week, next month or next year. But they don't. Without making changes today, the future will just be more of the same.
Here are a few ways to connect more with friends and family even with the demands of a full time job:
Take the Call - You're plugging away on a project and your cell phone rings - it's your BFF or a good friend. Normally, you let it go to voicemail because you don't want to lose your focus. Unless you're on a deadline, the chances are you can talk for a couple of minutes and get back to your project without diminishing the quality of your work. Even if you're in the middle of an email, you can pick up where you left off. It might take you all of a minute to refocus but in the bigger scheme of things it's worth it. Set the expectation up front that you only have a couple of minutes to spare.
Make the Call - Just this morning Fred came across a 35 year old letter from a former boss of his at Heinz. The letter prompted Fred to pick up the phone and call his former boss, who is now retired and living in Florida. Fred was glad he had taken the time to do this. When you have an impulse to reach out to someone, do it. Many people get into a work only mindset that makes them think they shouldn't allow for anything personal. The reality is calls usually don't take as long as you think and often reenergize you, making you more productive. Just like when you've had a good laugh. You've broken away from the laser focus of work and have more energy.
"Bag" Lunch at the Desk - If you can't take a full hour, meet a friend for a quick lunch. You can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. Be spontaneous - shoot a quick email to your friend, "Up for coffee?" Or take a detour from your direct route home and plan a quick drink (doesn't have to be alcohol) with a friend. Use the pockets in the day to connect with people you care about.
Beyond the Inner Circle - For people you don't see regularly it's easy for a lot of time to pass without making a connection. Maybe you live in different states, or you feel so maxed out trying to keep up with your closest friends that you don't think you can extend yourself further. This is especially true if you're in a relationship where you have to allow time for your partner's friends and family too. Since you don't want to totally neglect people in the outer circle who you still care about, make a conscious decision and schedule time to reach out. Even if it's only once a year.
The point made in Lee Kravitz's book is that we all have unfinished business--the things we should have done but just let slip. Act on what is most important to you now.
Fred & Gladys
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success