Are you making room for your most important relationships? Do you get enough quality time with your loved ones and friends?
There are 4 stages to the 4-Day Work Week journey. Most people proceed through these stages as they gain mastery.
The first stage is called the 4-Day Work Week Apprentice. Here, we focus on maximizing our life outside of work without needing to change jobs. Over time, we might evolve to the next step of being a 4-Day Worker, or even to being an entrepreneur or business owner.
However, no matter what point you are at on the journey, we all need to be able to master our ability to optimize life outside of work. This process includes optimizing:
How we invest our time
How we invest our money
The things we possess.
In any of these stages, there are certain milestones you achieve that help to confirm that you have mastered that step.
We’re going to begin with the first step, which is relationships. I’ve identified 10 milestones that have worked for me to help me master my relationships. They might all be relevant to you, or they might not, but I know that they work for me. When I am on top of these milestones, my life goes infinitely better than when I'm not.
For each of these milestones, I'm going to show you how it can benefit you, and I’m going to ask you to decide A) that you are going to do it, and B) what your target date for doing it is. On the 4-Day Apprentice Program, we have a number of exercises to help you think more about your relationships, and worksheets to help you track your progress.
Take 30 minutes a day to develop and nurture your relationship with God, or your spirituality, or whatever you happen to believe in. If you don’t have any kind of spirituality, you might want to take these 30 minutes to yourself, to meditate or to just check in and disconnect from the world.
I recommend doing this once a week. Set aside not just time, but more importantly energy, to spend quality time with your family. You need to be fully present, which means not checking your phone or answering emails, or even coming in so tired that you’re not able to focus. If you’re not close to your family, or if they live far away, for you this might mean spending time with your closest friends or loved ones who are almost like family to you.
Once a week, try to make time and energy for a social event, or to meet with your friends. It’s important to move outside of our family or small group of closest friends, but it can be difficult to allow time for it. Not only does having a wider social circle mean having more opportunities to learn, network and grow, it also takes the pressure off our closest circle. If you don’t have this wider circle of friends already, why not join a new club or group, take up a new activity, or even start volunteering somewhere?
If you have a significant other in your life, make time and attention for one romantic date or event each week. I know that my week goes so much better when I get quality time with my wife, whereas if we haven’t been able to spend time together for whatever reason, life is just not as enjoyable, so we're not optimizing the time that we already have available to us.
For at least an hour a day, make time and attention to be fully present for family meals. I’m saying an hour here, but of course you can adjust it to be whatever suits your family. What’s important is that you decide and you all commit to it. Having a specific amount of time is easier to commit to than just saying “some time every day will be family time.”
Family mealtimes are one of the things that a lot of people find difficult to make time for, especially nowadays when life can be so fast-paced and with so many other distractions. But making time for things just means managing our time and prioritizing what’s important.
Try to make time (at least an hour) every day to spend time with your immediate family, outside of mealtimes. My family like to play board games. It might sound trivial, but it’s not about the game; it’s about being present and valuing each other. You might not agree, but I don’t count watching TV together as quality time, as you’re just not getting the same level of connection.
I recommend doing this at least on a monthly basis, but you can do it more regularly if that’s what works for you. Practice forgiving yourself. Maintain your psychological and emotional health. Take time to work on healing relationships, if they need it. Everyone has their own way of doing this: some people meditate, or go to counselling, or follow religious guidance.
I learned something from the teacher Deepak Chopra that really helps me. He has a mantra that goes something like “I can choose to hold on to grievances, or I can choose the positive side and find the miracle behind it, so I'm going to let go of my grievances.” I try to take time to let go of my grievances and choose to look for the miracle, for the forgiveness, and for the opportunity from that situation.
Again, I recommend doing this on a monthly basis, and contacting your important relationships, even if they're long distance, in order to stay connected. Some people find that social media can work wonderfully for this, if you can find a way to use it that’s healthy for you. You may prefer phone calls, email, or even snail mail.
There’s a well-known book which I’ve mentioned before, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, by Bronnie Ware. One of these top 5 regrets is having lost contact with old friends. It needn’t take you long, but a quick message once a month can go a long way.
You might not be able to completely achieve this milestone immediately, but working towards it is important. This isn’t about whether or not you enjoy the work you’re doing in these organizations, but rather about whether they treat you with respect you deserve, and whether you believe in the overall aim of the organization.
Try to get the time you have to spend with people you don’t want to see down to less than 1 hour a week. Now, you may have family members or in-laws, for example, who you don’t enjoy seeing, but you stick with it for the sake of family, and that’s fine. There might be members of a group of friends who you don’t like as individuals, but you still want to be part of the group, and again, do what works for you. But if there are any toxic relationships that you’re investing time in, but that you aren’t enjoying, try to cut down on them.
If you want to learn more about becoming a 4-Day Work Week Apprentice and its process and different stages, click here to sign up for free.
Our aim is to help you make more money in less time, doing what you do best. But if, after we do that, you're not enjoying your relationships outside of work, we still have work to do!
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