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A New Work-Life Model
Top executives often give so much to their careers that they shortchange their family and friends. Yet, they crave personal time and deep connections. The “P6PROP” program – “Personal Resource Optimizing Performance” – can help busy professionals become better partners, parents and friends. Following this model enables you to find the energy to be the person you want to be at home, no matter how full your schedule or how lengthy your to-do list. Practicing the six “P’s” helps you achieve and experience “more life” and perform at your best all the time, including in your personal life. The six P’s are:
The “overwhelming desire” to do something is the fuel that drives the twin engines of productivity and purpose. Become a passionate participant in your family life by bringing a high level of enthusiasm and devotion to your roles as parent, partner and friend.
High-performing professionals’ passion for work drives their career success. They understand that a winning career requires a big investment of time, energy and commitment. Yet they often forget that a successful family life requires an equal level of passion. Nobody has limitless reserves of dedication and energy. When you expend most of your steam at work, you may have little left to devote to your family.
Finding passion for family life is hard when your list of chores seems endless or you suffer emotional disconnection from your partner. Recapture the passion by remembering times when you experienced true joy with your family. What activities or events made those moments feel so special? Instead of viewing your home and family as an endless series of demands, envision your home as a safe haven from the world, filled with the people you love, who also love you.
Consider what makes your family unique, and prioritize those values. Share this philosophy with your partner, and ask him or her to perform this exercise, as well. Compare notes and identify the places where your beliefs overlap. What activities do your family members most enjoy? Do you belong to a large, extended family? Do you find shared fulfillment in a spiritual life? Once you answer these questions, craft a “family mission statement” – a brief declaration of the beliefs and values that summarize your philosophy. Involve your children if they are old enough to participate. Revise your family mission statement annually, so it evolves in sync with changes in your family’s life.
Your family mission statement is a compass that keeps you on track and helps you infuse your daily activities with passion. Set out to involve the members of your family in the things you love to do. If you have a passion for sports, plan a weekend hike or bring the family to a sporting event. If you love to cook, let your children plan the menu and help prepare it. Focus on creating a home environment where everyone participates in the activities that provide the most joy.
Put precision into action by building routines and activities that become the framework for a healthy home life. Contrary to common belief, parenting and partnering skills don’t always come naturally. Home-life expertise requires the same exactitude, effort, focus and study you devote to mastering career skills. “Frontloading” is an effective mechanism for planning ahead and putting systems in place to meet life’s challenges before a crisis hits. Such systems create positive behavior patterns. Setting your life on a happy track may take a lot of work, but once you ritualize the daily routines necessary to keep things running smoothly, the effort will prove worthwhile.
When Glenn’s wife returned to work three months after having their daughter Sadie, Glenn decided to become a stay-at-home dad, but, at first, he felt lonely and disoriented. He joined a gym that provided child care and became a member of an online chat group for stay-at-home dads. As he devoted his energy to learning how to master his important new role, he adjusted to being his daughter’s primary parent. He studied and practiced parenting skills in an effort to become the best dad possible. By the time Sadie turned two, Glenn had firmly established routines, enjoyed the time he spent with his daughter, took on freelance IT work and stayed on top of things at home. His wife is happy with Glenn’s attentive parenting and appreciates relaxing with Glenn and Sadie on the weekends.
Decide what type of parent and partner you want to be based on your values and personality. Avail yourself of the multitude of parenting resources found online, in books and magazines, and in classes – and explore the topic with friends, family and other parents. Develop strategies and routines for daily tasks such as homework and housework. Create a chore system that includes your children. Even young children can contribute to maintaining the household. Delegate the tasks you find energy-sapping – like cleaning, shopping or cooking – so you can focus on the areas that matter most to you. Grandparents are a lovely and often overlooked resource for such things. Nurture your relationship with your partner by spending childfree time together, sharing your feelings and offering mutual support.
Perceiving yourself as nurtured and loved enables you to operate at a high level, while keeping your passion and precision on the right track. This perception can work as a “grounding force” that enables your family to benefit from your mutual love and support. Finding protection and energy at home – and protecting and caring for the people who matter most to you – positively affects every aspect of your life.
People you trust and respect help you by being supportive and offering honest feedback. Your family and a small circle of close friends provide the unconditional love and encouragement that is crucial to your self-development and fulfillment. Your family creates a place where you can make mistakes, be vulnerable, and show your emotions without fear of ridicule or retribution. Strive to provide the same kind of security and support to your children, partner and friends, and appreciate how the support you receive from them enriches your life.
Create a warm, accepting home environment by prioritizing the people with whom you want to spend your precious time. These are the people who bring out the best in you. You may have a close friend, a person who lets you be you and who supports you on many levels. Encourage your children to develop that kind of special friendship, not only with their peers, but also with trusted adults. Create a close network of friends and extended family, and be choosy about whom you invite into your “inner circle.”
Feeling comfortable with yourself and the life you’ve built with your family offers a sense of peace. In this context peace is more than a lack of battle; it’s “a strong personal awareness and an appreciation of your own unique and important history.” Consider Paige, a successful corporate vice president of human resources and mother of four. Paige was happy in her marriage and career until her mother died when Paige’s oldest child was 12. Although she and her mother were not close, her death threw Paige into a tailspin. She lost confidence in her leadership at work, fought with her husband and found parenting young adolescents overwhelming. Paige sought the help of a therapist. After acknowledging her feeling of abandonment and crying over her loss, she began to heal. She hired a life coach to help her regain her footing and rediscovered the inner peace she thought was gone forever.
Peace derives from “self-awareness and self-acceptance.” Try to gain insight into how the events and experiences of your childhood shape who you are in the present. Understanding your personal story allows you to forgive, let go of past hurts and accept what makes you unique. This knowledge frees you to be a better partner, parent and friend. Achieve this state of peace by accepting your limitations, forgiving your mistakes, and realizing that your experiences – both good and bad – made you into the person you are today.
Experience the freedom of being present and aware as the real you, not just a person performing a role. Operating authentically feels natural, honest and true. Not acting as your real self creates inner stress and dilutes the person you show the world. When you do and say things that don’t reflect who you truly are and how you really feel, you are “behaving against type.”
Think of the stay-at-home mom who used to feel more alive in a conference room negotiating a deal than she now feels in her kitchen baking with her kids. Behaving contrary to your personality and values feels unnatural, causes anxiety and saps your energy. Presence stems from genuine behavior – acting in alignment with your true nature. Every family is unique. Be the type of parent that comes naturally to you. Your distinctive approach to the demands of being a parent, partner and friend may be what others find wonderful about you. Insert your personality into your family’s routines. This may mean a cuddle session before bedtime or a moment spent showing your family how much you love them.
Being authentic does not mean doing or saying anything you want. You still must understand how your behavior affects other people. Give your partner, a close friend or a trusted relative consent to keep you in line if other people might have to pay a price for your unfiltered authenticity.
Develop the habits and routines that move you toward your goals. Maintaining a high-level of performance requires intention and purpose. Persist in your commitment to be your best with the people you love. Persistence enables you to reach your personal best at work and at home.
You may be inconsistent in acting on the profound care you feel for your loved ones. Your daily actions put love into practice. Having great intentions about family dinners, bedtime stories or date nights is not enough. Persist in your efforts. Make a deliberate choice to prioritize such activities, and create rituals to support these routines. Your busy schedule of work and household duties will expand to fill every hour unless you have the discipline and persistence to carve out quality family time. Leaving work early enough for family dinner or incorporating reading a story into a young child’s bedtime routine are examples of persistence in action.
The framework for positive change rests on family rules and boundaries. Clear and consistent rules provide children with stability and security. Help them form daily habits such as washing dishes or eating at set mealtimes. Take advantage of technology by using smartphone apps or e-calendars to create organizational systems that keep family commitments on track and then stick to them. Be consistent in your efforts to follow through on family plans.
Three More P’s In addition to the 6P’s, add three more P’s to support your growth and development:
- “Purposeful parenting” – Become the parent you want to be by being clear about your values and priorities and incorporating them into your family’s collective experience. Careful planning – using your “leadership skills for your most important role” – provides this framework and helps you to find joy in the everyday activities and interactions that make your family special and unique.
- “Power-Full” – In two-parent families, the strength of that partnership holds the family together. If you let this adhesive crumble from neglect, the family may fall. Nurture “your most important connection” by recommitting yourself daily, communicating honestly, respecting your partner’s viewpoint and presenting an aligned front on big issues.
- “Pruning” – You can’t perform at your best if you’re depleted mentally, emotionally or physically. Take care of yourself. Blend activities that keep you “sane and healthy” into your daily life. Nourish your body and soul to be your best self.