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?
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 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.
For 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.