Steve CookSlow down, live life, work later?

Wait a minute. That is not what I’ve been told. I’m supposed to work hard now so I can take off and play later, right?

Aren’t we supposed to work really hard so that we can enjoy the good life?

Perhaps that’s the right plan for you. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but I’m going to suggest that the plan may be a little bit different for me.

…OK, a lot different.

I’m entering into the prime earning years of my life and I’m feeling very convicted to slow down, take time off, live life now, and work more later.

My conviction is not to stop working now, but to do enough to provide. Along with that, to live simply–well below our means–so I can work a comfortable amount and maintain a comfortable lifestyle (note: years of pursuing and being debt free does make my plan easier; my overnight success has taken 20 years).

I know this plan is counter-cultural to what most believe, so let me explain.

First, my kids.

They aren’t going to be around me forever.

My youngest is 8 years old. My oldest at home is 13. I have little time left with them before they’re off and living in the world on their own. I will always be there for them, but the next 5-10 years are critical years for me to pour into them, to raise them into strong men.

I’m not going to accomplish that from the office, or while traveling for work. Instead, it’s going to take spending time with them.

I don’t mean by just being home, but being their teacher, their coach, their friend, and obviously their parent.

They need me to be there with them.

Can I build a big business as well?

Perhaps I can over the next 5-10 years. I’m not suggesting that it can’t be done. But I’ve been doing this for a long time. I know the demands and the sacrifices that come with building a business.

Sacrifice for success is admired and glorified. But what are we sacrificing?

I can say that I’m going to build a big bad business and not sacrifice my relationships along the way, but that is more likely wishful thinking than reality. Something will have to give and it’s almost always our most important relationships.

I know that the more I do with business, the more I think about it. The more I think about it, the more I won’t be present. And I don’t even want to chance this. If I say that my family is most important to me, my actions need to reflect this.

I think of it this way: If a house is being built, I would not put my 8-year-old son in the hole while the excavator is digging.

Why? Because it would be dangerous, and I don’t want him to get hurt.

I need to recognize that letting him grow up without me because I’m working too much is equally as dangerous. It may not be physically dangerous (although it can be) but it is putting him in harm’s way.

If I won’t let him play near the excavator, I need to have the same attitude toward letting him grow up without me. I’m not going to play with his life by gambling that my ambition to build a big business and make a lot of money won’t harm him.

I recently heard someone say that her business was like her baby. It is true. It requires care and nurturing just like a child. When you get this, you can understand why something has to give.

I’m going to say what so many won’t say…

And I know this won’t be popular among the masses:

I watch–and I can be guilty of this as well–many people sacrifice their families for money. They say they’re pursuing making more money for their families, doing it for them, but they’re often lying to themselves. They’re doing it selfishly and using their families as an excuse.

The world wants to entice them with “bigger is better,” and “more is better,” and it wants to convince them that they don’t have enough. What better way to get you to not be there for your family than to say you aren’t doing enough, that you don’t have enough, or that what you’re providing is inadequate?

Don’t buy into the lie or try to convince others to do so.

My 10-Year Plan:

There are things that I do very well in my business, that come easily to me. I’m going to focus on giving my all to those things during the time that I work. I will let the business grow organically from there if it’s meant to.

But for the next 10 years, I will do my absolute best at what I do well in order to provide for my family today.

For this to work, I need to keep life simply. I need to keep our needs low. If my ambitions are for worldly things, I won’t have enough to provide, and I’ll have to work more.

My vision has to be clear: my family is what’s most important, and my actions need to support this.

My ambition doesn’t need to go away. It just doesn’t need to be steered by what society thinks is right.

I’ll be older, I’ll be wiser and I’ll feel good about how I brought my kids up. I think that will make me a better speaker and coach.

(Note: For making life decisions like these, it’s essential to have a Vision. Your Vision is a clear, written description of what your complete, ideal life looks like. If you don’t have your own Vision yet, here’s a simple resource that can help you start the process for yourself.)

Speed Bump: Vision Worksheet

Another reason this works for me is because I do like to work. The thought of working hard today so I’ll never have to work again just doesn’t make much sense to me.

In fact, when the kids are grown up and out of the house, my wife and I will probably be scrambling to find something to do. Maybe that is the time to start building something big, at least working more, or traveling to share the Lifeonaire message more.

I also don’t know how much longer I have on this planet. And I know that I want to make the most of it.

One thing I don’t want to regret is how I parented. I want to raise great men. Because of this, I’ll be intentional. Yes, I’ll give my all to my business when I work, but I’ll also be content with whatever it provides, recognizing that it gives me the opportunity to be the best father I can be.

I confess that I need to muster up a lot of courage to make a shift like this and to speak this aloud.

Do you have the courage to do the same? Will you take the steps to be able to make a change like this? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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