Work-Life Balance What? Does This Even Exist? What Does Balance Mean Anyway?

Episode #15
December 19, 2018

How do you balance work and family life? How do you cope with the stress in work and life and do you even have time to take care of yourself? That is why you need to listen to today’s episode as Jon tackles the answers to these questions with Jeremy Choi, an entrepreneur handling three businesses, a husband, and a dad. Jeremy shares how he tries to dedicate time exclusively for his work, family life and taking care of himself. And what’s more, Jeremy gave one exercise that he does even inside the car that helps him relax and one habit that makes him focus on the most important thing in life.

“I feel like sometimes I'm just the babysitter not really a dad.”

-Jeremy Choi


Timestamps:

00:56 - Jeremy's background as an entrepreneur and business leader

01:49 - Is there really a balance between work and family life

07:05 - How his wife made him realize that he's spending way more time in work than in his health or their family relationship

09:07 - Here's what you can do to dedicate your focused time exclusively on work and family life

11:21 - The importance of consistent communication, planning, and agreement between husband and wife to try and maintain balance at work and family life

12:49 - Knowing when to say NO to have more time for important things, the mindset of doing more with less, and hiring people to help you

18:05 - Relaxation and having time for yourself plus Jeremy's breathing exercise that helps him relax

19:16 - Benefits of breathing exercise and one example of breathing technique that Jeremy does to relax and balance himself

21:21 - Jeremy's habit every morning that makes him focus more in his wife and kids


Resource:

 

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Transcript:

Intro: Welcome to Agile Living, The Entrepreneur's Journey. A show dedicated to discovering how entrepreneurs and digital leaders are doing more with less. I'm Jon Voigt, your host and CEO of Agility. And we're on a journey across the country to learn from top digital entrepreneurs on how to live a more agile, adaptable and fulfilling life. Thank you for joining me today. And let's dive in.

 

Jon Voigt: Today I have on the show a good friend from Toronto, Jeremy Choi. Jeremy is a serial entrepreneur, dad, and from what I've heard a kick ass golfer. The other day we were discussing work-life balance and if it even exists. I thought it would be a great topic for a show. So, Jeremy, it's great to have you on the show.

 

Jeremy Choi: Hey thanks Jon.

 

Jon Voigt: Why don't you talk a little bit about yourself. What you're up to these days. And then we can kind of dive into this, you know, work-life balance discussion.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah for sure. I mean I've been doing entrepreneurship for quite a bit now. Now I kind of operate three businesses. Two of which are already have a president kind of running. I'm in the marijuana space. I'm in the fitness space and I'm also in the website support and management space. And well, what I'm kind of up to these days is just kind of growing each of these companies in different ways. Building up leadership within my team and making sure that the people that we've employed, that are part of the team, is happy.

 

Jon Voigt: Right. That's always the trick. So, I guess you know maybe we could dive into talking about you know, the work-life balance discussion because I've talked to so many people about it and I know you've always had lots of things on the go. And you know there is a balance or is there a balance? And what's your kind of take on that whole side of the spectrum?

 

Jeremy Choi: Well I think a few years back I've always been kind of seeking that balance thinking that hey you know if I spend eight hours you know with family, eight hours with you know, the business, eight hours sleeping whatever the case maybe I would find that equal balance that it should be 50/50 or 33/33/33. But over the years, I'm trying to find that balance. I've kind of kind of come to a conclusion that there really is no balance. I've tried really hard but as I try to find balance, I feel like certain areas kind of suffer. So, what I'm spending time with the kids thinking that this is kids time I'm actually thinking about the business. And sometimes when I'm at the business and I'm just thinking about the kids and a wife and or even a personal pleasure which is golfing and stuff. So, I find that it's kind of where my mind is drawn towards and with business, I tend to a lot of fires with three businesses. Anytime something happens to the business I get notified or people tell me certain things. I tend to want to solve that first, right. And I think as entrepreneurs, at least for myself, I tend to want to be problem solvers for everything.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah.

 

Jeremy Choi: Well, when stuff happens, my first attention, goes to there.

 

Jon Voigt: Well I think there's also the trick of you know, a lot of entrepreneurs are in business to support themselves and their family. So, there's this mindset that there's always push you to be like, I have to work harder, I have to work harder. And I'm doing it for my family. But you know the family perspective might always not always be that, because there is time you can't get back, and there are other things that you know when people talk about balance it's about giving the right amount of time. And that's really tough right. Because you know, is working on the business and making it double in size so you can support your family, you know more important than you know spending some time with your kids or whatever at certain times? And I'm not saying the business is more important than them but definitely feel you know we're all always trying to support our family and a lot of times do the businesses how we do it but it might not perceive as being balanced or supporting.

 

Jeremy Choi: Right. No 100 percent. I mean I've always kind of used the excuse of saying, hey you know I'm doing this for all of us.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah right.

 

Jeremy Choi: And sometimes that flies, sometimes doesn't fly so well you know I mean.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah for sure.

 

Jeremy Choi: Especially I think I've realized that more as I started kind of maybe neglecting time with the kids you know my you know what I consider quality time with the kids I mean I do spend time with the kids but my mind is somewhere else but my body's there.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah right. And they know that, they can read that.

 

Jeremy Choi: You know other days I kind of take my phone away and all that kind of stuff. But sometimes I still drift a little. I feel like sometimes I'm just the babysitter not really a dad.

 

Jon Voigt: Right. Well I think I think this links into one of my other podcasts around you know focus and communication and how we have our phones and their beeping and remind us that something at work going wrong or what not. And you know the idea there, was you know put your phone away and you know spend some focused dedicated time and it definitely helps but it's still really hard especially if you're going through some big transitions in work or some big changes. You know there's certain times where your mind is going to be very focused on that.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah. Right now, the three businesses, they're all going through a pretty big transition for the marijuana facility. I'm actually you know, we're closing off around the funding. We're in construction mode. We got an approval from Health Canada to build out a facility. So, it's exciting time and it's a lot of you know, like all hands-on deck.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah.

 

Jeremy Choi: Similar with the gym. You know it's the off season for a lot of baseball and football athletes. So, we're getting a lot of inquiries we're getting, we're building our processes so and we're looking at hiring new coaches. So, there's a lot of things that are going on and it’s kind of requires a lot of my attention. But then you know I say this every off season and summertime. Same thing right. Yeah. Wintertime same thing. So, it's kind of sometimes a vicious cycle and I'm kind of right now, step back a little bit and kind of try to put family first. Just give you a little bit of context and a bit of history not just not too long ago. You know my wife and I we had a disagreement right. And you know she was quite upset unfortunately by what came from that is that I realized I was spending way too much time on business and not to relationship or family.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah.

 

Jeremy Choi: I'm pretty meticulous in terms of color coding my calendar and my day to day. I know all my meetings my anything work related is blue anything important in my calendar is red. Any family time is yellow. Including your relationship with the wife. And also spending time with family, kids, I set the family all that kind of stuff. Anything that's personal like golf related is green. So, I kind of color code everything and reflecting back in our lives. I would say three months, I noticed that I have definitely spent a lot more time in business and on my personal day with the family.

 

Jon Voigt: It's cool to see that though, you can quickly get a glance at that right.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah. I don't always look back at it but it took it took it took a good I guess I want to say it's an argument. It wasn't an argument it was really she just upset. You know one day, she kind of was just sad and I could see it and I could feel it. I was quite emotional that day too because I was like you know, how did I let this kind of happen. And you know and it's been brewing probably for a good several months. Right and I look back and account and I realize yeah, we didn't do any of the planning that we were we initially started off doing. I would say probably six months ago a year ago with the help of my EO Forum Entrepreneurs Organization, I was actually doing what we call monthly meetings because you know in our businesses, we do monthly meetings with our teams and we plan our you know our one-year goals. So strategically you know, monthly goals, weekly goals, daily task and all that kind of stuff. I started to implement the same thing with the family so I and my wife, we will sit down once a month. We planned out the entire month slide in all of our times we want to go, Okay let's go see a movie here.

 

Jeremy Choi: Let's go to dinner here. Let's go take the kids here, play you know their gymnastics, their sports, their school everything right. So, we spent a month oh sorry a day out of the month, sit down for a good you know one to two hours to really planned that out. But I stopped doing that. You know sometimes we just kind of brush it off. Yeah. It's not that important. I think we got it all worked out. You know the business is very important right now. There's a lot of fires to deal with. That have to go out and do this first. Right. I kind of let the ball drop there and I realize that. Well she helped me realize that. I didn't realize that on my own because if it was on my own, I probably would still be very focused on the business. But she helped me realize that, hey you know what I am spending way too much time not on my own health and not on my relationship health. I spent everything just putting up fire.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah. It was interesting because you mentioned that you guys, you know kind of had an agreement you know and then you're planning ahead and I think you know this whole balance thing doesn't exist. And I'm leaning towards trying to make a balance for myself for years and years that it doesn't really exist. But what happens is you know you need to focus on certain things at certain times. And anyone who's involved in that needs to be part of that communication and understanding. And I love that you guys would do those, you know monthly meetings and how that agreement because that did gives you the time to say you know this you know this month, I need to really focus on business but I'm going to make it up next month or you know whatever that agreement is. And you can have everybody there agreeing to that. Right. I think it's super powerful. So, I think that's cool that you did that upsetting that you aren't doing that but it sounds like you're gonna get back to that. So, it just sounds like a great kind of to do and my wife and I have a lot of communication about how we balance things. Even broader on a number of trips for business and things like that which get more difficult as we have more kids and stuff. But you know at least it's a discussion. I actually love your idea of having a monthly meeting about it because we do that for business. We plan around that why wouldn't we plan around where we spend our time at home and family community, personal that stuff.

 

Jeremy Choi: Exactly. And you know what. We just started doing that yesterday. So, we had our one-hour powwow yesterday. We're going to continue again this weekend actually. We planned it out for Saturday and stuff like that. Usually we planned it on a weekend. Mainly because it's easier for both of our schedule. We're not rushing to put the kids to sleep. You know. You know bathing down you know putting brushing their teeth and all that kind of stuff. So, weekends are usually better for both of us. Usually in the mornings. I heard this quote once and it really stuck to me and it's kind of how I kind of revert back to every once in a while. In fact, there's a poster of this quote in our gym, so every time I kind of look at it I kind of remind myself hey this is what we make sure we do all the time. And it says, relationships fail because of unspoken expectations.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah. And everything fails to do that.

 

Jeremy Choi: Right. Yeah.  So, we're making a huge effort to communicate more and be okay to kind of have these kinds of sometimes uncomfortable conversations. When we first did these monthly meetings and stuff, it was quite uncomfortable. Because like why are we doing these planned monthly meetings like it doesn't make any sense right. But once we did it, we were very happy and grateful that we did it. But the hardest is doing the first one and continuing anyway like I felt doing. I stopped for a good three months doing it. And the problem was stopping one time as you give an excuse to yourself and to each other that you can stop a second time, the third time and I think that's what happened with us.

 

Jon Voigt: That's like an EO forum. And making your meetings should be a penalty if you're not there.

 

Jeremy Choi: There should be definitely.

 

Jon Voigt: I think one of the big things that you know I've started to realize this year especially and I'm sure you feel it massively with three businesses on the go is the whole kind of concept of compromise though and letting things go. Because you know we can't do everything and I and I find when I meet up with my wife and we talk about our plans or you know I'm looking at my business and what I want to do the things that I want to do with my business and the things I want to do with my family just you know there's just more things than I have time to do. And the hardest part has been you know what do I like go up or do I cut out.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah. I mean I have very various similar issues I mean I love to golf I love to grow more business. I love to invest in more businesses but I physically don't have the time and mentally I don't have the capacity to do more. And I have to say no to certain things. And in fact, I turned down a few charitable board positions. Some nonprofit organizations asked me to be board members and I had to say no. And slowly saying no to many things because when I'm involved in too many things then my time has spread and I'm a doer. I really like doing. I really like the idea of completing tasks and checking off things maybe I was born or raised that way through the school system or through my parents or whatever the case may be. I just love completing things because I feel like it's the sense of accomplishment. Whereas some other high-level stuff like strategic thinking, setting goals and all that stuff I tend to find that to be more tedious and that is not checking off stuff and it doesn't give me that instant gratification.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah.

 

Jeremy Choi: So yeah, I'm learning right now too and I'm doing to let go of many different things and saying no to many different opportunities even within the team saying hey guys we only have the capacity to execute X amount of things so the things that are not unimportant, let's move it to Q2 Q3 or Q4. Right.

 

Jon Voigt: Right. Right. Yeah, I think you know one of my big pushes on this podcast is always how do you do more with less. Right. Which is you know, which I want to clarify for people is it just about you know being able to do everything. It's about doing the most important things right. So, you know if you need to carve some things so you can do your other things much better and much more focused and get more successful from those things. That's the right idea.

 

Jon Voigt: And it's just so hard to cut things out even like what you said you know going through tasks like I love doing the same thing building a task list and being like Check check check check it just feels so good. But I almost sometimes catch myself putting stuff in that task list that aren't necessarily top priority but I know I can get them done. So, you know the things that maybe someone else should do or you know maybe isn't the best use for everyone. So, I had to watch my task list through it carefully. If I want to be more successful and make sure I'm not just building the list of things that I know I can get done.

 

Jeremy Choi: Right. And I guess that's the power of leverage right. I remember listening to Cameron Herold from COO Alliance it's now, he mentioned to me we had a weird sit-down talk and he basically told me hey ticket Excel spreadsheet. Write down exactly track exactly what you do every day every hour every half an hour every minute. Right just record it after you do it for a week. He told me to assign a value to every single thing that I was doing. And if it was not more than if it's not worth more than 150 bucks an hour then you should farm it out produce something. That's where I kind of started hiring like assistants and virtual assistants and other team members. That was kind of like that power of leverage of having other people help take on certain task for you.

 

Jon Voigt: Mm hmm. And how did that work out.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah, it's good. I mean there's ah, I keep taking on more as I leverage as a farm out work. I keep thinking on what I have to get nowadays I have to remind myself, OK no more. You know I want my personal time for golfing. I want my personal time for fitness. I train two hours a day. You know doing certain things I kind of want that in order to have that I have the leverage I have to say no to certain things and not be attracted to the new shiny coin.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah right.

 

Jeremy Choi: That dangles in front of you a once in a while. And very often too right. It's new ideas, it's going to make us a million dollars. Let's do it. No, no. Now I got to say you know what, there's no such thing as an overnight success. They say like you know it takes five to seven years for an overnight success. And I believe that it is a journey that you just have to kind of go through it you know and don't rush growth for the sake of growth.

 

Jon Voigt: Right. Right. So, the other last kind of part I want to dive into a little bit here is around you know personal time and relaxation time. You know it's very common that, that part can get dropped first. For a lot of people, they're taking care of yourself and whether that's for you golfing or you know just clearing the mind or working out or whatever that may be. You know I think people have bought into the value of working out is very easy to tell people at work or at home being like I have to do this to stay healthy. But there's other aspects just like downtime, where your mind is just not firing on all cylinders.

 

Jon Voigt: That I think is greatly lost and not focused on enough. But I also don't know if people really understand the value of that. They are always switched on. You know, do you find time to wind down, to reset. Is that your golfing? Is that you know something you build in? Or is that something that gets chewed away because you spend more time with the kids or spend more time at work?

 

Jeremy Choi: I think golfing is definitely my escape. I really enjoy the game and it makes me feel very peaceful when I'm doing it. But more recently I realized that I also have to kind of have that kind of time to myself that kind of realized regeneration times that you know that you're talking about. I took a course with a breathing coach. I know at the beginning sounds kind of hokey pokey or you know.

 

Jon Voigt: Oh, I'm all for that stuff. So that's awesome.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah, I guess when I tell people like breathing, because they're like What do you mean you don't you don't know how to breathe. I feel like no this is different. This is about setting and time apart and concentrating on breathing. This was with the lady by name of Kira Leskew. She was actually helping me do 20-minute sessions right. Like nearly four times a week we would we would go on Zoom calls. She would coach me on different breathing techniques. Run through it and put that 20 small 20 minute a day that was doing it was making quite a bit of impact on me already in terms of just relaxing the body, relaxing the mind.

 

Jeremy Choi: It made me focus on my breathing. And it made me think about nothing else but my breathing. And in fact, I'm using similar techniques for different things because the breathing you know it could give you energy, the breathing can help you relax and help you sleep. And I've been actually using it prior to sleeping and I've been using it prior to meetings actually. Different breathing techniques. So it's been it's been at first I thought you know I mean this is you know some voodoo stuff for my breathing and going through it, oh yeah, this has actually helped and I do it in the car too just to just to practice because I tend to I used to and I still do, I breathe through my chest a lot which causes me to be more stressed, my neck and everything. I sometimes get a strain here and there. I get very nervous; anxiety and all that stuff really easily cause to me to breathe through chest a lot. So, one simple thing that she did with me, it was like, just put your hand you know on your stomach and breathe and feel you know the stomach kind of go out you know and back it as you're breathing and just feel it. And it's such a simple it's a one simple technique that she did that helped me just start breathing when my stomach a lot because where you touch and where you focus is where the breeze of your breath will go right. And that has helped me. You know just be in the car just keeping a hand on my stomach and breathing and just focusing on it.

 

Jon Voigt: I think it's awesome. And you know everyone talks about meditation and things and really the true meditation is not sitting there clearing your mind. It's actually complete focus. That's what meditation really is. So, you're doing the breathing is really just an exercise in meditation really. And I think there's been many studies about the proof and the statistics around how meditation can help clear the mind and regenerate and reset things. So, it's funny that you know our discussion about balance has kind of gone into this breathing and meditation side but I think if you're if you're not grounded and balanced yourself, how can you balance the other things in your life?

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah you know. Hundred percent. Yeah, I yeah, I guess then another thing that I was doing recently is just not checking my phone in the morning and so I finish making breakfast or put the kids ready to go.

 

Jon Voigt: Right. Right. So, you know it's hard to do. I had this mentality that I want to do that too and every once in a while, I wake up and I slip a little bit you know I know I look at my phone and once I look at my phone I'm already going, you know what I mean that your mind just switches.

 

Jeremy Choi: Well you know what, I used to have my phone face up like we don't put our phones in the room already. We leave it out in the kitchen. No, you know outside.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah.

 

Jeremy Choi: But what I've noticed is that now I turn my phone upside down. So, the face part is now facing down right. Therefore, I don't see any of the blinking lights.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah right.

 

Jeremy Choi: Because I used to face it up and I see the blinking light in the morning and that blinking light I swear makes me want to just gravitate towards it and lift it up.

 

Jon Voigt: It's a homing device right.

 

Jeremy Choi: Yeah. So now when it's faces down like it's totally on other side in a sense that I don't see no blinking light I don't really care if it's really that important. There will someone will call me. I don't think that messages or e-mails are truly that important. I mean we're living in this area where you know people e-mail each other and text messages to each other but it's really not that important. It's not life or death unless there's a phone call. At least at least in my mind that's how I'm going to categorize it.

 

Jon Voigt: So am I. Yeah.

 

Jeremy Choi: So, I only check now after getting the kids ready and I find that it's helped me focus on the kids more.

 

Jon Voigt: Yeah 100 percent. Then you're more focused on the kids of the time giving them better quality time. Be more optimize there and then you know when you're ready for work you switch over then you're able to switch over you know and that's it. That's part of the balance too is how do you switch between things effectively without you know moving too quickly and not finishing what you were doing and kind of wrapping that up and then moving on to the next thing.

 

Jeremy Choi: And focusing on what the wife is talking about.

 

Jon Voigt: Yes, for sure.

 

Jeremy Choi: Because is in the morning I saw like you know when the phone is there you tend to want to check the phone and all that kind of stuff you know really focusing everything around. But when the phone is out of the way and out of sight. You don't think about it. And my wife is telling me certain things that happen you know whether it's work related or schedule planning. You know I'm more dialed in to what she's saying. I'm absorbing that information a lot better.

 

Jon Voigt: Which is very imp

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