With such an intriguing title, I quickly accepted this book from Lyn Adams, my friend and financial advisor. Choosing to Cheat is about establishing priorities, making choices, and work-life balance…with an intended bias toward the life side. As the founding pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia, the author uses his religious beliefs and the teachings of the Bible to help explain and support his message. He writes that both family and work are vital parts of our lives, but that you can’t absolutely choose one over the other. Therefore, you can only find true contentment when you align your priorities between the two.
For the author, "choosing to cheat" refers to "the decision to give up one thing in order to gain something else." Using this definition, everybody cheats and by extension, everyone gets cheated. The challenge is to "cheat" without making people feel cheated. But this isn’t about being deceitful; cheating at work has nothing to do with cheating your employer. It’s about "reallocating your limited time according to your predetermined priorities". Openly discuss your desires and your difficulties balancing life and work, and figure out a way for your family, friends, employer and co-workers to not feel cheated.
Since more than anything else, your work and your family define your sense of identity, a collision between the two is only natural. The issue, the author states, is that there is just not enough time in the day to give all that is required and to get everything done at both work and home. Therefore, we often run from "fire to fire, troubleshooting our way through life." But that’s no way to live. You do your job and you love your family. If we reverse the order (do you live to work or work to live?) then tensions escalate and a tug-of-war ensues.
When you choose work over family, you send the message that work is more important. There may be seemingly valid reasons for this choice, and you may believe that your family understands, but you don’t really know unless you are openly discussing it with them and frequently gauging their feelings. If you don’t, then small problems could grow into large ones. Your primary role and concern should be for your family. Stanley writes that you are expendable at work (everyone is, really) but you’re not expendable at home. Only you can be the mother, father, wife, husband. You have this unique role and responsibility.
So how do you go about balancing life and work? The author suggests that, first, you make a decision to quit cheating at home. Unless you decide to do this and commit yourself, nothing is going to change. Making up your mind to change provides you with momentum and focus. Second, be specific about what you want to achieve: the results that you desire. Ask your family, for example, what schedule changes they would love to see you make. This leads to the next point which is to involve others. Don’t go about this on your own. Talk to your family. Speak with your boss. Be flexible, not demanding, Provide options, not ultimatums. Be willing to test and try different changes to see what works best. But address the issue directly; otherwise your results won’t be all that you want.
Making difficult choices forces prioritization and prioritization can drive better performance in those preferred areas. The author suggests a Thirty-Day Challenge to improving your work-life balance, and offers a study guide to help with the materials in his book. So if you’re looking to make a change in how you "cheat", give this book a read.