If you failed at achieving an ideal work-life balance for years, you’re not alone. With family on one side of the scale and work on the other, you’re allocating energy between both and a futile battle to balance your life and often elusive goal. But what if you change your goal? In Work-Life Harmony, Grant Botma provides a step-by-step guide to help you harmonize the personal and professional parts of your life so that family and career work together and complement one another.
Most books about balance will tell you how to work less. In this book, Grant provides practical examples you can use to cultivate harmony, respect, and love among you, your family, and your job. Your work is meaningful, not just because it helps you provide for those you love but because it’s important to you. Learn how to be happier with Grant’s simple process and straightforward tactics that empower you to live and work with purpose and harmony.
This is The Author Hour Podcast, I’m your host Benji Block and today, we’re honored to be joined by Grant and Jodie Botma. They’ve just released a new book. The book is titled Work-Life Harmony: Enjoy Your Life and Family More Because of (Not in Spite Of) Your Work. We’re so glad to have both of you here on Author Hour today, welcome in.
Grant Botma: Thanks for having us.
Jodie Botma: Yeah, thank you.
Benji Block: Absolutely. Let’s start here. Grant, would you just give a little bit of a breakdown of what you do outside of just this project and this book? Tell us a little bit about yourself and what led to this project.
Grant Botma: Yeah, well, obviously, I am a husband. Jodie and I have three kids but I’m also a business owner and I own several different businesses and [in] our field of working with other business owners, going around different events and kind of networking with other entrepreneurs, this kind of topic of work-life balance has become very popular, especially over the last couple of years.
It was always a topic that frustrated me and that [I] didn’t necessarily like the idea of going after balance because when you are trying to balance, you’re always eventually going to fall down, right? You can’t stay balanced forever.
Yeah, I think balance is good but I just kind of wanted a different target, and through my conversations with other business owners around the country, that’s kind of how this book came to life.
Benji Block: Awesome. Jodie, from your perspective. Has Grant always been wired in this way to write a book, do all this business stuff? What’s your vantage point and take on what this has been like as he’s written this and then obviously, your part as well?
Jodie Botma: Yeah, no, not surprised at all that he wrote not one, but two books now. He is very gifted and talented in leading people and coming up with innovative ideas on how to do things and so the way he runs his company is so unique and so special that it just made sense to share what he’s doing to help other people.
Benji Block: For sure.
Grant Botma: She likes to tell me that I’m long-winded and I kind of talk too much so of course, she’s not surprised that I take all those words and put it into a book.
Jodie Botma: Yeah.
Benji Block: That’s awesome. If you think he’s going too long, just pinch him during this conversation.
Jodie Botma: Definitely will do that.
Benji Block: Awesome. Okay, you’re busy, why write the book now? Why did this feel like a topic you wanted to tackle at this time in your life, Grant?
Grant Botma: Man, there’s two reasons. I would say one because I was getting the question a lot. I own a mortgage brokerage and insurance agency and investment management firm, I’ve written a book on a software company and one of the questions that I get is, “Grant, how do you do all that and your family still likes you” right?
It’s a question I was getting a lot and I wanted to answer it [because] the balance of work and life but more than anything, the ability to harmonize our work and what was going on at home never really became more evident than over the past couple of years with everybody having to work from home and different things going on with our kids’ schools.
To me, it was almost urgent, “Man, we’ve got to share this, we got to talk about this, we got to do something because it can make a really big impact right now.”
Benji Block: Jodie, I wonder for you, as you think about the way that you guys have structured your family and all the principles that are kind of laid out in this book, are both of you wired very similarly and so this just was so easy and this idea just — that’s always how it’s been run or what were the conversations like for you as a couple to get to a place where you felt like, “Man, our home life is really thriving and in harmony with what Grant’s doing at work as well?”
Jodie Botma: Yeah, it’s been a journey. I would say, Grant and I are very different in a lot of ways but yet our goals and desires when we look into our future, we want the same thing. When we look at our family, we desire the same thing so we’re very united on that and had a lot of conversations about that over the years.
This book came too because it wasn’t — we didn’t always have work-life harmony and so through those struggle years, we’ve kind of figured out how to make some decisions and do some things differently restructuring our family routines to be able to have more harmony.
It’s more out of our desire to change, how things were once done between Grant’s work and our family life that we are now and we’re far from perfect. There are still things every year, every few months, we’re evaluating, what do we need to change, what do we need to add, what do we need to do different, where do we need to be more present. It’s always evolving for sure.
Work-Life Doesn’t Mean Work Less. It’s Finding The Balance of Purpose.
Benji Block: Yeah, I’m excited to dive into some of how that all works here over the next few minutes. I guess a couple more just really practical questions for you, Grant, on the book itself. When you’re writing this and you’re thinking of who is going to pick it up and read it, who in your head is that ideal reader that you were writing for?
Grant Botma: It’s for that person who likes their work and maybe not just only likes to work but they’re really good at it. The sad reality is, the people that they care about most, those people don’t’ really even know how good they are at their work.
Sadly, they’re trying this work-life balance thing and what’s going on at home and what’s going on at work just keep warring against each other and there is no harmony and that person now feels alone because they don’t want to stop working because they’re really good at what they’re doing and what they’re doing is making an awesome impact on real people.
At the same time, they obviously have other people in their life that are extremely important, they not only need their time and attention but they need their love and their resources. It’s for that person, it’s for that person who loves to work and enjoys work, still loves their family, and wants to find a way to bring harmony between the two.
Benji Block: Great answer and know that there is a lot of people that are right in that space so this book is perfect for that. A kind of last behind-the-scenes question that I had because I really liked the flow of how you broke out all the content here and there’s several interesting sections to each chapter. So, you have a section with rebuttals, right? With people’s questions almost to you, “Man, this isn’t going to work or whatever.” I love that. You also have a note-taking section.
Talk to me about how you landed on some of this layout and why you want to include all these special little pieces?
Grant Botma: Well, some of the best books that I’ve ever read have to do with some sort of paradigm shift, right? There’s a normal way of thinking and somebody comes in and gives evidence and ideas to help shift that way of thinking. Again, the best books not only have that but they have actions that you can really take. The best way to take actions is to critically think through any rebuttals that you have to the paradigm shift that’s happening or being presented in a book and that means, going through rebuttals, trying to think of frequently asked questions or real conflict that may arise by trying to push through this paradigm shift.
Also, taking some of those thoughts and actually writing them down, putting them into notes. Those things are important. I think my favorite part of each of the chapters is the quick win section. At the end of every single chapter, I’m going to talk about something that the reader can do right then, right now, to experience a win and get more work-life harmony. That was the idea, not just a paradigm shift book but a book that helps you take that paradigm shift, critically think it and then take action.
At the very end of this episode, before we wrap the whole thing up, I’ll have you give away one quick win that we can leave here and go apply because I loved that section as well. As you look at the current landscape and you mentioned the discussion of work-life balance, it’s really prevalent. What did you instantly kind of see was missing or what are some of those key pain points that you continue to see over and over again?
Grant Botma: Most work-life balance books, discussions, all have to do essentially with this: Work less. That’s really what they’re trying to tell you to do, they’re just telling you to work less and that’s something that I think is wrong. I think we’re created to contribute. I think work is good, I think work is praiseworthy because the heart of every business is service, you’re serving somebody, somewhere through a product or service.
If you serve really well, you put other people’s needs first, that’s a good thing and it makes an impact on our society on countless levels and the last thing I want to do is tell people to work less. If that’s what you’re looking for, don’t read this book. I’m not going to tell you to work less. I actually talk about a way of making your work, and how it matters in connecting that with your family and how your family matters as well, right?
Benji Block: I think before we can even get away, the equation that you give in the book which I think is helpful or talk more about harmony, we probably do need to talk about purpose because purpose is right where you start it and it’s where all of these flows from, right?
Grant Botma: Yes, for sure. Purpose — again, when you are working in a business that fundamentally, businesses don’t exist unless there is somebody being served somewhere, it’s making an impact on somebody. As a result, I think it’s wise to create a purpose statement or to have purpose in your work, you don’t just go to have a paycheck. If you do, when you walk out of the door, you family and your kids, your wife, they will loathe when you walk out of the door, they’ll say, “Oh no, daddy’s got to go to work” or “Oh no, you have to leave again?” or “Oh, you’re opening your email again?”
If there’s purpose in your work and the people that are closest to you know that when you do work, when you go to the office, when you are on your email, when you’re recording a podcast, they know that it’s making a real impact on real people and you can share those stories of that mission coming to life. There’s a different level of understanding, that’s a different level of grace that your family has. More importantly, they’ll actually cheer you on because they know that they’re a part of that mission coming to life better if they do a great job supporting and loving you as you work in that mission.
Benji Block: Yeah. Jodie, I would love your vantage point on this purpose and how you’ve seen this kind of fleshed out for you guys?
Jodie Botma: Yeah. The reason Grant started his company was to help others through finance and so it’s something I’ve always been on board with. Knowing the purpose of his work, knowing the purpose of his company, and then as we had kids, that’s something that we talk to them about that daddy goes so that he can help serve and love people with their finances and helping them with that.
It’s something that we, as a family, celebrate what he does and why he does it, and would we rather have him at home with us all the time? Of course, always, but we know that as we support him and encourage him, it’s making him, making it easier, and giving him more energy to be able to do his job well.
Benji Block: Yeah, you mentioned how it’s had to kind of evolve over time or some of those seasons where it was a little bit harder. I would assume, in that season, you’d still go, I’m kind of generally onboard, right? People are kind of like, yeah, I want to support the person.
If they love their work, I want to support them, right? You’re married to them but what has that evolution looked like to get to a place where it’s like, no, we know the mission and the purpose here and we support in it, maybe in a drastically different way than you did in the darker times, right? Or in the seasons where it was harder. What’s that difference like?
Benji Block: Yeah, the big thing with that has a lot to do with expectation management and that’s something I talk a lot about in the book.
Grant Botma: Yes, we have to be on the same mission, we have to be on the same team together. They have to know the mission of my work and the mission of my work has to connect with the mission of our family but we have to manage expectations well.
One of the expectation management things that we’ve done is talking about what our ideal year looks like where we kind of map out and plan out what we want our year to be and say, “Hey, this might not be exactly how the year looks, we’re not going to put in specific dates, we’re not going to jump into too many of the weeds of the details but we’re going to have a time where we’re going to say, hey look, if our ideal year were to live out and say, this next year of 2022, we know that we’re going to have these different priorities on it, we also know that there might be these specific busy times in my work.”
“We also know there’s going to be these other times that aren’t going to be as busy so let’s be intentional about looking through those things.” An example, how many people are genuinely looking at their year ahead, knowing that there’s bank holidays coming. Those bank holidays just come as a surprise where it’s like, “Oh yeah, I don’t have to work on Monday” or are those bank holidays something that you’ve intentionally talked about with your family to say, “Hey look, there’s no work on that day, what are we going to do? How are we going to use this to our advantage?”
That’s just one of many things that you can look at as you’re designing your ideal year instead of just drifting into it. When you drift into it, it’s going to be tough to manage expectations and that’s tough and we’ve lived that out before but whenever you are designing it and you’re talking about it, those expectations being managed, it’s a whole lot easier.
Jodie Botma: I think that’s where it has evolved because we did not always lay out the ideal year and as Grant was first starting his company, it was a busy season for five years and that’s not sustainable. We were not proactive on planning time off, on having intentional family time, we just kind of dialed — we just have to kind of sacrifice and push through and we’ll get there eventually.
We didn’t make individual dates between us a priority, we didn’t make individual time with the family a priority, it would happen but not as often as we’d like. That’s kind of where this all came from. It was all work, all the time for many years, and our relationships and all kinds of things suffered as a result of not being intentional with the work-life harmony.
Grant Botma: Here’s an example of what I was asking them to do; we’re talking about harmony, which has to do with music, right? But it is almost as if I was asking my family to sing a note and my family loves me and they’ll do that. They’ll sing and they will sing the best that they can but they kept singing and they kept singing and they kept singing and eventually it was like, “Okay, I’m done” and then they stopped singing.
I look at them and I’m like, “Well, why did you stop singing?” and then they look at me and they said, “Well, how long do you want me to sing this for?” Well, the ideal years says, “Hey look, we’re going to sing this note, we’re going to sing this specific note and you’re going to sing it for this long” and when you give those people the expectations that are on your team of, “This is what the busy seasons look like, this is when the busy seasons stop, this is when the busy seasons’ end, this is when they start” it makes things a whole lot easier on everyone.
Finding The Rhythm That Works For You
Benji Block: Yeah, the communication, the managing of expectations and clarifying those, a lot of times it does come down to calendar and planning. Let’s get a little bit even more practical because I love where this is headed. In chapter four, you present rhythms. You are talking quarterly, weekly, daily and you have a litany of examples of things that you guys are doing and trying.
Talk me through what are some of those rhythms and how did you discover like, “Man, this is really working for us to get in this rhythm perspective,” Grant?
Grant Botma: Some of the best rhythms are ones that happen naturally and they actually kind of happen almost as a habit. You don’t have to think about them a whole lot but again, I’m not going to tell people to stop working because I think work is important. One of the rhythms that I do is take my kids out on a date. We have three children and once a week, I am going to take them out on a date.
That’s a rhythm that’s extremely important to me and I think sometimes as parents, we can get caught up in the idea of, “Okay, if we are going to take our kids on a date, we’re going to date our kids like we see on Instagram” or something like that. That means we have to come up with some elaborate scheme or thing that we have to do, right? We have to make it super fun and take them on a trip and go to the beach or go mini-golfing or whatever.
Those things are fine but weekly rhythms, ones that are sustainable again happen naturally. They’re easy, so weekly rhythm and dating my children, looks like waking up just a little bit earlier, grabbing them out of their room, saying, “Hey, are you ready for your date?” getting in a car and going to a coffee shop that’s just down the road. I get a coffee, it’s great, they get a pastry, it’s full of sugar, they love it and we just talk and we hang out.
If I am honest with you, those dates don’t last a whole lot longer than 20 minutes, they’re really, really short but to them, it’s a big deal because I am making the effort for them. I am pursuing them and in those 20 minutes, some awesome conversations happen and it really doesn’t disrupt my day at all. All I have to do is just wake up a little bit earlier. Still a bit of work, the same amount, it doesn’t impact how I work.
If anything, it makes that workday even better because I got that intentional time with them, that’s what a rhythm is. It is not something that requires a ton of planning. It is not something that you feel like you have to go over the top with. Those things are fine but rhythms are something that happens a little naturally. They are easier to do and something that you enjoy executing. It’s just something that happens automatically.
Benji Block: If someone was trying to identify rhythms that they wanted to start or they’re looking at what’s already in their calendar, how they’re already spending their time or are they going, “Okay, I really like that idea. I should just kind of pick and choose from what I see other people doing”?
Grant Botma: Yeah, you can pick and choose different examples. You can steal from me and some of the rhythms that I put in my book but it starts with identifying those priorities. What are things that deserve rhythm? What are things that deserve some of your attention and your focus? I’m talking about yeah, dating my children, dating my spouse but I am also talking about time for myself.
I make sure that I take time every week to look back at my calendar, look back at what I was able to get done, and say, “Hey, what worked and what didn’t?” and I am going to intentionally design the week ahead. I am going to intentionally design the week ahead for my work but we also, together as a family do our family calendar time every week where we talk about what the week ahead is going to look like.
Family calendar time, what, does it take 15, 20 minutes, babe? It doesn’t take forever and that’s a rhythm that we fall into and we try to make happen every single week.
Benji Block: When do you guys execute that family calendar time?
Jodie Botma: Sundays usually. There’s like a Sunday here and there that we miss but Sunday kind of kicks off the week so we all know what each day — what’s happening each day, who gets the date that week with daddy and so we all kind of are in the know about what the upcoming week is like.
Benji Block: Nice.
Grant Botma: But that family calendar time also talks about other rhythms that we have. You know, it talks about what day we’re going to do with our best to try and rest. It talks about different things that the kids are doing with school. It talks about when me and mommy are going to try and get a date. There’s all kinds of different things that we’re going to make sure that we plug into that week and that we talk about intentionally with our kids and it’s a great time for us as parents to try to design the week that we want for our children and for us as a family together.
Benji Block: Jodie, is there any family rhythms that you would highlight that have been really beneficial and you feel like have added momentum to you guys as a family?
Jodie Botma: Yeah, one thing that we do that is probably one of our kids’ favorites is called One Kid Up. Each week, we pick one night a week and one kid gets to stay up a little later than the other two. The other two go to bed a little earlier and then the one kid just gets to hang out with mommy and daddy for an hour or two in the evening. We don’t have to go anywhere, we don’t have to spend any money.
Benji Block: That’s cool.
Jodie Botma: We just hang out and they get to choose what we want to do. Sometimes it’s a game or watching a show together or playing a video game together but it is just their individual time to stay up late and get some attention from mom and dad.
Benji Block: I like that.
Grant Botma: The beautiful thing about that is again — I am longwinded, here it goes — the beautiful thing about that is it doesn’t require anything extra really out of my work week. It is not like I am sacrificing a ton out of my work, right? I don’t have to come home early or anything like that. I just have to make sure that maybe instead of turning on the TV and relaxing by myself as the day winds down or making sure that I don’t go into my home office too early in the evening, I’m just taking, what?
It’s a half-hour, sometimes a total of an hour with our children and just sitting up with them and listening to them and being present for them. It really doesn’t take a ton of extra time, energy, or effort from us but it is a simple rhythm that man, they absolutely love and they look forward to. And I know as they grow older, it is going to be one of those rhythms that they remember and hopefully, they pay it forward to their children as well.
Benji Block: Yeah. Let me ask you this, so how often are you guys revisiting this plan? How much are you thinking through it kind of adding and subtracting? Grant, how much do you look at this?
Grant Botma: There is a chapter in the book called “Evaluations”. Part of having work-life harmony is evaluating what you’ve done and evaluating where you want to go and there is a couple of different things that we do. Every year, I redesign my ideal year. The first year I made it, it took a lot of energy and work and effort but now every year, it’s something that’s super simple and easy for me to just make some small adjustments to.
Another thing that Jodie and I do is we take an anniversary trip every year. That is another annual rhythm that we have and while we take that anniversary trip, there is four questions that we ask each other to evaluate how this year went and the year that we went moving forward. We ask what do we want to do more of, what do we want to do less of, what do we want to add and what do we want to remove.
The key to that is to try not to add a whole bunch of answers to all those questions, just try to focus one answer to each of those questions in the areas of your life that are most important. For Jodie and I, what do we want to add to our marriage? What do we want to remove from our marriage? What are those adjustments that we want to make as it pertains to our marriage? Okay now, then we go to parenting.
What do we want to add, what do we want to remove, less off, more off as it pertains to parenting? Then go to Jodie — she homeschools our children. Okay, what do we want to do for homeschooling? Let’s review those four questions and the same is true of me. Okay, what about from you? We review those four questions. Every year, we’re doing that and that’s an exercise that’s been very helpful for us.
Jodie Botma: If something comes up during the year and we realize this is not working or this changed, we definitely make modifications throughout the year as needed but on a whole, it’s our yearly evaluation.
Grant Botma: Yeah, when you are singing in a concert with a group of other people, it’s very rare that everybody is going to perform perfectly exactly every time. There are times on the fly while you’re performing live that you make adjustments and you have grace for each other to still have a great performance and to think that when you are trying to make harmony, it’s going to go 100% according to plan is not wise.
Part of having harmony is having grace for yourself. Yeah, grace for each other but grace for yourself too. Look, if 70% of my ideal year gets lived out every year, that’s awesome. You know, that’s 70% more than 0% of what was being planned before. Having grace for yourself is important and being able to make adjustments as Jodie said on the fly is good.
Turning Intentions Into Action
Benji Block: Jodie, when it pertains to kind of bringing this to reality, right? You wrote a chapter to help us make it more practical and I love what Grant just said about us having grace for ourselves as well. What does this look like as it plays out in real life and how do we really give grace to ourselves as we try to live this out for the sake of our family and balancing all this together?
Jodie Botma: We touched on a lot of the rhythms that we do that has been our harmony with our family that we once did not have and so, there are weeks that go by that we keep to our rhythms and we do a great job. We’re spending time with our family and having that harmony and then there are weeks that go by, a week or two and we look at each other and we’re like, “Oh my goodness, we didn’t even have a family dinner in the last week or two.”
We haven’t had a date night, life just got crazy and sometimes that’s on our part for not having the discipline to implement our rhythms or the intentionality. Sometimes, life just happens and so I think in any aspect, whether it’s managing your schedule or your work-life harmony, you have to have grace for yourself and we’re never going to execute everything perfectly and also have grace for your spouse.
I mean, I know it’s easy for me to look at Grant and see he’s slacking a little bit in this area or he could be a little bit better in this area and letting some of that go because Grant is not perfect. He’s never going to be and focusing on the good that I see him doing and how intentional he is in so many areas, maybe one or two areas, he needs improvement and same with me.
Just focusing on the good, having grace for ourselves to if we don’t execute perfectly that’s just the way it is and like Grant said, even with the ideal year, you get 70% accomplished that’s a huge win. Celebrating what you are doing and not focusing on what you still should be doing.
Benji Block: That’s a great way to kind of wrap things up because that movement in the right direction is huge. I think sometimes we see where we are and where we want to be and that gap is just terrifying and so to really allow ourselves to say, “Okay, I am going to take a step and keep moving in the right direction but there is definitely going to be things that maybe, you know —” life happens and things kind of fall through sometimes but ultimately, we know where we’re ultimately going and the vision that’s leading our lives, so I love that.
Grant, can you give us one of these quick wins that you were talking about earlier, one that maybe we could leave this conversation with and go try with our family tonight?
Grant Botma: Yeah. You know, I believe that the person who is reading this book has these great intentions. Great intentions to not only be awesome at work but to be awesome at home, to be the best spouse possible, to be the best parent possible and I like to say that the best intentions require very intentional actions and that’s a lot about what this book is.
It’s about trying to make those intentions that you have, those really great intentions to be the best in those areas to then start taking some very small [actions]. Sometimes, they’ll turn into big intentional actions to create the harmony that you want and I would say that that’s one of the biggest things, one of the biggest quick wins that you can do is looking at your past week and saying, “Hey, how did I do?”
How did I do in my relationship with my spouse? How did I do in my relationship with my kids? How did I do at work? Do each of those people, my team at work and my team at home, did they know that I care about them? If they don’t, what could you do next week? What intentional action could you take so that they know that you care about them?
One of the quick wins that I think is super easy, it’s something that[’s] not used very often in our society is just a simple note. Sure, we could send that note in a text message, we could send that note in an email, we can send it over social media but you can do it on paper too. Who is somebody this past week that you really, really care about, that you love but maybe they don’t know it?
Maybe you failed in showing it to them. Take time, have an intentional action of writing a note right now to let them know that you care about them, that you love them, and why. Give a specific reason why you love and care about them and put that on that note and deliver it to them. Then next week in your schedule, take another intentional action to help them feel and know that beyond that note, you really do care and love them.
Benji Block: That’s great! I’m so excited for this book to get out into the world. I think it’s going to help so many and it really is a timely message but it is also a very practical one and I love that quick win. That is something that all of us can do and I hope many do and take you up on that. Let me do this, Grant, can you just tell us where can we continue to follow what you’re doing, connect with you further, where can people reach out to you guys?
Grant Botma: Yeah, I am very active on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, all the things. My Instagram and my Twitter is @grantbotma and the book is being released on January 11, 2022. You can find it on Amazon, hardcover, it’s got the soft thing too and we actually did our own voices for the audiobook. Jodie even recorded her own for her chapter.
Benji Block: Fantastic.
Grant Botma: Yeah, you can get it on Audible as well.
Benji Block: Well, that’s great. You did my job for me, you told them where to find the book, find it on Amazon, so it’s been such an honor to talk to you guys. Thank you for taking time and being with us on Author Hour today. I know this is going to be a great resource for so many. Thank you, guys.
Grant Botma: Thank you.
Jodie Botma: Thank you so much.