What 22 Would Motivate You?

Mohamed El-Erian was a man who seemed to have it all. As CEO of the investment firm, Pimco, he made millions of dollars per year (100 million actually). He also had a supportive family... or so he thought.

Last January, while arguing with his 10 year old daughter about brushing her teeth, she handed him a list of 22 special moments El-Erian had missed since the beginning of the school year. The events ranged from a Halloween parade to her first soccer match. At first El-Erian defended the absences, but then he realized that his lack of work-life balance was hurting his relationship with his daughter. So... he did something about it... he resigned. El-Erian opted for a number of part-time jobs that would allow him to spend more time with his family, especially his daughter. You can read his insightful resignation letter here.

In the article, Father and Daughter Reunion, El-Erian writes, "I am the first to recognize that I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to structure my life in this way. I'm so grateful that this is providing me greater opportunity to experience key moments in my daughter's life before they're all too quickly gone."

What I am more intrigued by is the list from his daughter and it’s impact on El-Erian.

I hear you murmuring. You're saying something like, "If I made 100 million last year, I could afford to step down too!" And El-Erian recognizes his unique situation. What I am more intrigued by is the list from his daughter and it's impact on El-Erian. As a parent of a 10 year old myself, I can readily identify with the types of items on her list, and how important they are in her world.

As a way to prevent a similar crisis moment in your world and evaluate your own work-life balance, why not make a list of things you don't want to miss in the lives of those most important to you? It would be easy to get carried away and list more than 22 for each one, but force yourself to be realistic. You will not make every event every day (unless you're retired, and I hear those people are busier than ever). Instead, set a goal for the number of times per week, month, or year you want to make the activity or event.

As I created my list, I noticed myself beginning to look at my planning differently. I started thinking about how I could build my day around those on the list-instead of making a list of all the things I needed to get done, and hoping I had time for some of them. I've used the Juggling Elephants method of planning (3 rings: Work/Self/Relationships) for several years, but doing this seemed to add a new sense of urgency to planning for the non-work items.

Next, I've scheduled a monthly task to review the list and see how I am doing. One of the biggest challenges we all face with work life balance is that we often don't recognize it until some major damage has been done to a relationship or our own personal well-being. If things are out of whack and I feel a strong sense of guilt, maybe it will encourage me to find ways to work more efficiently. I might also be more motivated to deal with workplace and personal distractions.  If I find myself checking off lots of items on the list, I should give myself a well-deserved pat on the back. I probably won't need it though, because my healthy relationships and sense of purpose will probably be reward enough.

Creating this list might seem a little odd, but who knows? It might just prevent someone from handing you a list one day that you would rather NOT read.

You can see my list by clicking here.