Planning a great life

Hi Simon, I really acknowledge your commitment to be a great breadwinner and provider for your family. Clearly you take this role very seriously, but the manner in which you are bringing home the bacon isn't working for you, as it just prevents you being the hands-on dad and attentive husband that you aspire to be.

1. Identify your priorities. Admit what and who is really important to you. If, as it seems, it's your wife and children, then there's a fundamental contradiction at the heart of your life. Add up the hours spent at work and the hours spent with your wife, children and friends. You may be shocked to see the figures in black and white. What you'll undoubtedly see is that what's most valuable to you (family) gets the least amount of your time. Grasp the extent of this situation and how out-of-sync your life is to what's most important to you.

2. How do you rate yourself? How do you define being a great husband and dad? The fact is that your value as a father to your family does not begin and end with your ability to bring in money. That's a hard lesson for many men to learn, even in our emancipated times. Is there a voice in your head suggesting otherwise? Take a step back. Being prepared to work hard for your family is important and praiseworthy. But you are losing out in a big way if it means you get to spend no time at home. Your children want you, not your money.

3. Do you overwork? I get the feeling that you are immensely diligent and put a lot into your work. But is it all really necessary? And, how much of a perfectionist are you? Examine your modus operandi. Are you putting more energy in than is necessary? Do you work efficiently? Give yourself an earlier cut-off point, so that you aim to be ready to leave the office at a reasonable time. Doing more in less time isn't just entirely possible, but gives you a whole other urgency and momentum missing from a 12-hour day. Examine how confident you feel about your abilities. If you're constantly trying to shine and impress, this is not only exhausting, but indicates that you're compensating for a feeling of not being good enough. And this will do your career prospects no good. A relaxed air of selfassurance engenders more respect and confidence from those around you.

4. Look at the company you're in. If you work for an organisation that prides itself on its long hours, then you're in the wrong place for a healthy work/life balance. Seriously. Don't waste time and energy trying to change it. Far better to admit a mistake, cut your losses and plan your exit as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

5. Plan your life. At the moment your life fits around your job. Start planning a life where your job fits into your life. Think about the sort of life you want and then figure out what sort of job would allow you to live like that and without descending into penury! You and your wife should book a babysitter for an evening every week so you can relax and dine out on designing a great future that works for all of you. Ensure this is booked into your diary and adhered to. Trust me, there's a much smarter way for you to live than you have been doing. Apply yourself and begin to see your options. Examine all possibilities at this stage. Consider having a few sessions with a coach if you still feel stuck. Sometimes it's invaluable to have an outsider take a good look at your situation. Don't despair. Get focused and get busy on your new project: “Planning A Great Life” - for everyone's benefit!' Good luck.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO ME AT lifecoach@independent.co.uk . NO PROBLEM IS TOO BIG OR SMALL. The first 50 e-mails will receive a Fiona Harrold Online Life Coaching Course of their choice. Please visit www.independent.co.uk/legal for terms and conditions. Fiona Harrold is author of several self-help books including The 10-minute Life Coach, Hodder Mobius, £6.99; www.fionaharrold.com

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