I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I just got off the phone with my business partner Dan, and we confirmed we were going to start a fourth practice.
In my mind, things at work were moving along as planned. Upon entering the house, I nervously muttered a short summary of our work plans to my wife, Rebecca. I sat biting my nails, waiting for her to say “Sure!” as she had reluctantly done in the past. She and I both knew that the wheels were already in motion, so what was the point of getting in a big argument about it?
This time was different though. In a calm, yet direct, tone Rebecca responded, “Adam, I am glad you are accomplishing all of your goals at work, but when are you going to prioritize your family and our goals?”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Guilt, clarity, sadness, and confusion are some of the feelings that overwhelmed me. My family is my world! Of course, they are my top priority. But have I put our family goals and time spent together off to the side while I steamed through accomplishments at work? The simple answer was YES.
As I processed what Rebecca said it became abundantly clear that she was right. Vacations, dinners, kids events and date nights had all taken a back seat to my growing hunger to take over the veterinary profession
My rationale up to that point was that I would accomplish everything I wanted to in my professional life, and once I made it to the top, I would promptly shift my focus over to my family. The reality is that I am a perfectionist. I would never be satisfied at work. After every accomplishment, I would keep chasing this moving target of goals until my retirement.
At that moment I made a mental and verbal commitment to my wife and kids that I would stop chasing. I will live for the now. “If my family is truly my top priority then I need to make changes to establish just that.” From that moment on I have made a conscious effort to always put my family first while still trying to accomplish realistic goals in my work life. I can proudly say that the compounding stress that once hurt my relationships, my health and overall happiness is gone. I am at a place in my life where I have found the balance between work and family – what a great feeling.
So what’s the point here? Let go of perfectionism. Being excellent can be just as fulfilling as perfect. Determine what’s most important in your life and prioritize all of your time and energy towards accomplishing those goals. Make sure it is a reflection of your goals and not someone else.