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Notes from a Cynical Valentine & Great Dater

Notes from a Cynical Valentine & Great Dater

On the surface, I might look like Valentine’s version of Scrooge: I’m the one rolling my eyes when boxed chocolates appear on store shelves before Christmas ornaments have made it to the sale rack, the one shaking my head at this blatant commercialization of romance.

To me, it’s always felt like Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day—even though I know that the holiday’s origins go much deeper than greeting cards and red roses.

But despite my shrugging off of this love-y day, I’m a big believer in dating the ones you love.

Why’s a Management Coach Blogging about Dates?

Okay, so this seems like a strange subject for a leadership blog. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: my clients love to talk about date night. Seriously.

In many a client meeting, after we’ve gone over the latest struggle with the board or the sales team’s evolving attribute matrix, we’ll take a minute to touch on the more life-y side of things. Because one of the best ways to improve your professional performance is to keep that work-life balance healthy.

For my married clients, a spouse can be the best partner and mentor they’ll ever have—as well as the most enjoyable one. But your husband or wife isn’t the only one worth dating. What about your kids? Your parents?

Nobody’s Dream

Here’s what I’ve never, ever heard from a client at the beginning of his or her career:

“I want to start a family, progress in my career, increase my earnings, prioritize high positions over my kids, build my net worth toward retirement, let the romance with my spouse cool down, and finish my life just surviving with the man or woman who was once the love of my life.”

It’s comical to even imagine such a depressing vision.

So here’s the tragic but valid question: why do so many folks end up living out this very picture?

Busy Is Forever

Most relationships don’t fall apart in one big stroke. Rather, they deteriorate one, small neglect at a time:

  • “I can’t have brunch with you. Saturday is my golf day—time to myself after a grueling week.”
  • “I’ll read you a story tomorrow night, princess, but tonight I have to prep this presentation.”
  • “It’s because I’ve been traveling all week that I’d rather relax on the couch than go watch his soccer game.”

Now, there’s a part of these points that’s very valid: you are busy.

But that’s the exact reason that you shouldn’t put your most important relationships off until the moment when you have time or feel relaxed enough. You will never have enough time. You will always be busy.

In fact, if you’re aiming for the upward career trajectory that many of my clients are on, you’re only going to get busier in the days and months and years to come.

So be intentional.

Date Night

Date night is one of the best ways to start getting intentional about the most valuable relationships in your life. So let’s get specific:

  • Schedule a date night with your spouse—just you and your spouse—at least once a month.
  • Set up a date night with each of your children—just you and each child—at least quarterly.
  • For those who have another special relationship they’d like to nurture with a parent, sibling, friend, etc., add them to your date night list as well.

Please note: this is called date night. Not meeting night. It’s not a time for reviewing calendars, schedules, logistics, finances, or house maintenance projects.

Date Night DinnerFor you married readers: Remember what dates were like before you 2 got hitched? Well, make it like that. Or better! Get dressed up, go someplace special, turn off your mobile, and talk to each other. Talk about your lives, your plans, your shared vision, your relationship. Remember fun stuff you’ve done.

Then, before the date ends, put the next one on your calendar. (Yes, yes. For this you can get your smartphone out.)

We’re just one example among many, but my wife and I have been dating for 44 years, and we’re more than friends. After all this time, we still make each other’s eyes sparkle. And my clients tell me that reigniting date night has brought a lot more sparkle into their lives, too.

So go get sparkly. Yes, fine…even on Valentine’s Day.

Bah humbug & happy dating.

4 thoughts on “Notes from a Cynical Valentine & Great Dater

  1. Lea - February 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I was involved in the fitness industry for 7 years and made it my priority to explain the importance of balance to each one of my clients. Of course the kind of balance I referring involved equal parts carbohydrates and proteins for every meal. However, much like most behavior modifications it is easier said than done! Some of us would love to have a manual for LOVE and how to preserve it like Mr. Munn has done with his 44 years of marriage. Balance is the best advice we could ever hear and be reminded of on occasion. I wish someone would develop a mobile app with a scale similar to the Scales of Justice symbol were we could add pieces of our work and personal lives to ensure a healthy balance. But instead most, me included, tend to realize we need better balance when one scale is down to the floor and the other is raised to the roof. Until Mr. Munn invents such an app, one piece of advice that has helped me better balance my work and personal life is the Date Night Jar. How it works; each individual puts the same amount of Popsicle sticks with the desired date night written out and followed by initials. My boyfriend and I do this every Monday, so we can prepare for the date and get excited for that special night. Certainly, I did not invent the idea of the Date Night Jar, but you find a great website to reference such as http://www.pinterest.com/pin/155022412143514545/. I 100 percent concur with Mr. Munn in that if you want LOVE of any kind to last a lifetime we should nurture it more than one day a year.
    Thanks Bill!
    Lea

    Reply
    • Bill Munn - February 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      Lea, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with this. Some good ideas!

      Reply
  2. Shannon Polz - February 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

    This is wonderful advise for EVERYONE, not just those in management position. I stay at home with my children and can still use these words to help keep my marriage strong and healthy. We all need to take time with our significant others, anything worth keeping takes effort and that is especially true with your marriage. Thanks Bill for sharing!

    Reply
    • Bill Munn - February 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks, Shannon. I am so pleased that you find this valuable.

      Reply

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