Make This Your Best Summer Ever

Hello, my name is Mark and I am a workaholic.

While it may sound funny (and I always encourage you to laugh), I do not say it lightly or to be cute. I have a problem and I know the first step is to admit it.

Much like other addictions, there are many causes and only one cure; choice.

Like drinking, some people over work to hide from their fears, others do it for social status or to achieve some ideal situation they believe will bring them greater happiness.

Many of us saw our parents working long hours and often more than one job. As a young man I was taught that hard work to provide a “better life” for your family was a virtue. Quality family time was traded for earning more money.

My mom’s father was a hard working farmer. I did’t want to work that hard. I wanted to have fun. For most of my life I chose jobs that allowed me to play more than labor. Working for others made it easier for me to keep that balance. I was not as invested in the job as I am in my own business.

I enjoyed my freedom and my playtime. Maybe that is why I was so reluctant to start a family even though I always knew I wanted children. I feared the pressure and responsibility. Being a parent is my greatest joy. Teaching my children what is most important in life is my greatest responsibility.

So how do I teach them the value of doing important work in the world balanced with our quality time together?

One of my favorite aspects about my work is the opportunity to partner with my wife in business, in addition to parenting and life in general. It often feels like she does the majority of the real work while I get most of the fun. I am most grateful that we get to work and play together.

If you have known me for long, you know that one of my top priorities Is living a balanced lifestyle of family, friends, work and play. That’s why it’s so difficult when I feel like my life is out of balance.

How can I help you and others live more joy filled and care free lives by working less and playing more if I am still working all the time?

A perfect example was writing this article. I started writing it last Saturday morning with the intent to publish it the next day. My family was upstairs waiting on me to go play with my godsons while I was down in my office trying to write about family time as my top priority. When I realized I was acting out of integrity, I closed my computer and ran upstairs to begin a long fun weekend. Now here I am a week later finishing what I started.

When I was growing up, my mom did not have money to take us on expensive vacations. Every year we would go camping in Maine. We enjoyed the camping experience as much as the beach days in Ogunquit. We did not realize theses were “affordable” vacationing activities. We just knew we were together having fun.

For many people summertime is a great time to get away. After surviving our first cold, snowy winter together up north, we are especially grateful for the summer season.

The first six months of this year, I felt like Renée and I worked more than ever and had less quality time with family and friends. If you’ve ever run your own company you can probably relate. It is very easy to become a slave to your own business, especially if you love what you do. While there is constantly work I could be doing, I always want to remember my top priority is my family.

We spent five days in the mountains of Tennessee to unplug from the world and plug in to our family and connection to The Divine in nature. It was wonderful. I highly recommend it. Whether you prefer the mountains or the beach, getting away from the high-paced world to slow down and enjoy each other is a wonderful way to enrich their lives and yours.

For us, the “key” is scheduling family time in our calendar. We set aside time every day, a day every week and a week every season to spend together without doing work.

Yesterday was the longest day of the year. Here in Ohio, the sun rose at 6:12am (two hours before we did) and set at 9:08. We had a picnic in the park with grandparents followed by water play at our house. Spending the entire day with family was a wonderful way to celebrate the summer solstice and practice turning off work at least for one day.

What natural environments do you and your family enjoy most?
What efforts can you make to deepen your connection with those you love?

Post your comments and questions below. I look forward to hearing from you and will reply personally to your posts.