For most people, the greatest part of the focused energies we invest into our work, is to provide a better life for our family. The irony of this is, the more we focus on our work and the better we get at it, the further it takes us away from that family that we love so much. At the height of my time working in the tech industry, I was working close to an 80 hour work week, leaving before first light and returning home after the children were asleep.
Most weeks also saw me traveling over 5200 miles / 8300 kms to serve my clients. My weekends started with a flight arriving in at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport about 2 am on a Saturday morning. Most of my Saturday, I was a zombie on autopilot, until the late afternoon and by the time Sunday afternoon arrived, I was already mentally planning my meetings for the week ahead. For years this was a repetitive cycle, that eventually took its toll on my health and our family’s well-being.
But is work the cause of our family problems?
In the developed world, the ever increasing cost of living is placing in-ordinate amounts of pressure on families, just to make ends meet. However, I don’t believe work is entirely the cause of family problems, rather, it is perhaps the complete lack of time that families have to give to each other. Even the little time that is set aside for being together as a family is often filled with the pressures of daily routine, running children to after school activities, sports, music lessons, drama class, etc. Too often this over activity completely saps people of their ability to really be present with their family and this is often where communications break down and misunderstandings can occur. Left unaddressed, they fester over time and can leave an ever widening gap between us. With that said, work does indeed put inordinate amounts of pressures on us to perform. Even with many workplaces now providing much greater flexibility for workers than in the past, it is often the choices we make in prioritising the work we choose, which take us in different directions from the ones we love. This too, over time, forms an unbridgeable gap between some family members.
How, in such a world, can we make family our focus?
Back in 2008 a dramatic change occurred in my life. I was made redundant from my position at work. Perhaps if this didn’t happen, I might not have noticed just how far my life was diverging from the ones I loved so much. This gift gave us the breathing room to rethink what it was we wanted for our family and how we would live our lives. Our children were 7 years old and we wanted to be together. We took our children out of school to homeschool them and started a small business that would suit us being together as a family. We struggled financially in the beginning, however, we found a rhythm that was ours. We took long walks together, talked, discovered things about ourselves as a family and we liked what we were learning…how we were growing together as a family. We especially loved that we were experiencing life together.
In 2011, we decided that we would start traveling longer-term. We had already sold our house, our second car, most of our possessions and felt so much lighter from our burdens. We started traveling in our home country of Australia and then we created a non-profit project in 2012 that we took internationally on the road to the US.
We have been traveling ever since and have spent about six days apart in last ten years.
I know that it is not possible and perhaps not even a prospect for everyone to change their jobs, sell their house, take this children out of school, or travel for that matter. Making family your focus is not about this at all. It is simply about changing course. Taking just one step out of the ordinary daily routine and changing direction so that your life starts its journey back to one of convergence with the ones you love. This is all that it takes. Just that one conscious choice to make family your focus and to commit to doing what it takes to get there. What we have learned and continue to learn is that it is completely possible to make family our focus, even if we are pressured in our daily lives to make ends meet. Here’s how we did it.
Find your collective direction & create your own Family Story
Our turning point was our communication. We made our long walks (10km-12km / 6 Mi-7.5 Mi a day), the focal point of our discussions and all the things we needed to achieve in the day. It gave us time to share, to take in each other’s ideas, to dream and formulate a collective direction. We also began to hear what was really in each other’s hearts. A small but strong voice began emerging. That inner voice, that gut feel, our intuition became louder and stronger. We started to ask the questions that would bring us closer together as a family and we got clear answers.
Being present for each other, we realised that our journeys were dependent on all our stories coming to fruition. We weren’t fully aware of it at the time, but what we were doing was creating our own family story. One family story from which everyones story would be told. This story was taking into account our individual needs, harnessing our strengths and weaving them into a collectively owned story. Once traveled together, this story would bring us all a great deal of personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. We realised that our independence was directly resultant of our interdependence and how together we stood a much greater chance of bringing that collective family story to life.
We also needed to create the right organisational process and back it up with the right energetic environment. This is how we put our plan into action and it was a step-by-step iterative approach, always being readjusted. We named this process our Labour of Love.
From this, our daughter became an internationally acclaimed travel blogger and a published author at age 14,
while our son started his own Travel Concierge Business at 16 and we created ventures and businesses that are focused on helping families strengthen and deepen their bonds together.
In all of these ventures and businesses, we all take a part in the bringing to life of each of our ventures. This keeps us together, this keeps us learning and gives us direction and deep sense of satisfaction that inspires us to learn more about each other at every turn of the compass.
Being At Home With Yourself & Your Family
Despite the fact that we have traveled to and lived in over 40 countries on six continents, what we have learned from our journey is that is vital that whatever you choose to do that you be at home with yourself and the choices you have made. We’ve learned that it’s important to make family a priority and while on the surface this may seem to conflict with the necessities of providing for the daily lives we lead, we should never feel we have no choice. The choice is indeed ours to make. If we come back to what is truly important, we can see that choices shared, made together as a family, can give us so many different options, richer perspectives and clearer paths to achieving a collective vision and a shared story. We have also learned that a shared story, worked on together, can indeed be the most rewarding path on our journey of living a fulfilled and meaningful life together.
This was the vision that inspired us to create At Home In The World Family Retreats, an intimate gathering of just 10 families coming together in stunning locations such as Bali and Transylvania to explore how we can deepen our connections as a family. Here, we all contribute to finding that direction together. We provide the environment for those families who join us to create their own story, one that will help forge a life that inspires individual dreams to converge with a family vision. The goal: to bring everyone’s dreams to fruition together. This venture, shared and co-created with The Pearce Family, brings our two families great satisfaction in knowing that as we are there for other families, that our families also have the opportunity and benefit of learning, growing and deepening our own family connections.
So in essence, this is how I made Family my living. It continues to bring me an immense amount of satisfaction in life and I am humbled and honoured by the families who have entrusted us with their stories.