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    Work-Life Balance: Setting Priorities

    By: Jeff Gau
    December 16, 2010

    As a busy professional, it is certainly easy to rationalize neglecting family and personal activities for business reasons.  But why would you want to do that? As much fun as running a business can be, the personal aspect of life is well worth participating in.

    A well-rounded professional should have a well-balanced life - which includes setting priorities for work, family, and self.

    Setting Priorities
    Early in my career, I made a commitment to not allow any one of my priorities – work, family, or me – to compromise another. Unfortunately, building a career and raising a young family usually happen at the same time in your life. This is a conflict for setting priorities – you do have to make choices. Do you go to your daughter’s soccer game or to Business After Hours?Jeff and Cheryl Gau Family

    I often rearranged my schedule and missed meetings when necessary so that I could participate in my kids’ activities. Because I was involved, I knew their friends, their favorite color and I actually knew their shoe size. My priorities were aligned and now that they are grown, I can confidently say I would not have done it any other way.

    Setting priorities happens every day. Your only identity should not be the title on your business card. My titles are many – husband, father, mentor, grandpa, friend. These titles are just as important as my leadership title, if not more.

    Personal Interests
    Keep in mind you should have an element of self when setting priorities. Personal interests can be dictated by the stages in your life. At this stage, I can now commit to checking an item off my bucket list. For example, I’ve always liked cars and dreamed of someday owning a classic Mustang like the one I drove in high school in the 70’s. I’ve thought about buying one many times, but the timing was not right – until recently.

    Last spring I found it! A 1969 Mustang Mach I. Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses, I didn’t undertake this project myself. Instead, I hired a professional to restore it to its’ 1969 glory.  The one-year project – now halfway through – allows me to appreciate this classic car and the anticipated enjoyment of driving one again. 

    Restoring a classic Mustang is just one of the items on my bucket list. Have you thought about your bucket list? I don’t think it’s necessary or even possible to wait for retirement to start working on your list. The key is to do them at the right time in your life. I suppose I could have justified doing this project back in my 30’s, but I had more important priorities then like funding my kids’ college education, saving for retirement and financing a family cabin. 

    Living the Culture
    I encourage our employees to strive for the same balance in their lives. Marco has a high-performing work culture, and we have high expectations of our employees from a job perspective. At the same time, I support them attending their children’s activities, being there for their aging parents or taking their annual hunting trip, even if it means they will miss an important meeting. Balance is important. I know our employees are more fulfilled, better at their jobs and more committed because work is not their only priority.

    The work-life culture at Marco is intentional. Successfully creating a positive work culture requires a commitment to supporting the work-life balance of our employees. This is validated through our annual employee survey results and our recent recognition as one of the Best Places to Work by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and One of the Top Workplaces by the Star Tribune…it hasn’t happened by accident.

    Follow the progress of my mustang project on Marco’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/marcoinc.

    Topics: Work-Life Balance, Priorities
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