I'm an extremely structured guy. I plan. I have found that just by making appointments it's possible to achieve what you want to and also create space for the other things in your life. That's how I balance my work with the time I want to spend with my family, the most important people in the world.
For instance, I used to break from work every night at 10 o'clock, no matter what I was doing. That was so I could drive to Miami Beach and take my parents out for ice cream. When they passed away I understood why this time meant so much to me. Everything that needed to be said was already shared. No questions were left in my heart that I hadn't already asked.
Then, as my two children were growing up, I was always home to make breakfast for them. When I'm producing, sometimes I'm working long hours, even till 4:30 in the morning. But I came home to eat and take them to school.
Every Sunday our whole family gets together, including my brother and nephews. We have dinner, spend a couple of hours together — it makes such a difference in your relationships. Your family will be with you forever, through the successes and the failures.
Gloria and I have worked and traveled together for 30 years. But this doesn't mean that we don't still have to decide what to do when. We just got back from two months in Europe, where Gloria sold out concerts. It was a huge success. I was so happy to take that quality time to be with her and to support her in every way, even though many of my projects are back in the States. I had to say "no" to some things and spend odd hours on the phone to keep others going. Those are the choices you have to make.
We try to make sure that our employees also have the opportunity to create a work-life balance that works for them. Each person is different: For one, having his dog in his office with him means everything. Another wants to work extra hours until his project is perfect. So many of them have worked with us for decades; they're like family. The keys to our relationships are respect, communication and appreciation. As chairman of our company I provide inspiration, but everything depends on the staff.
When you're planning for balance in your life, be sure to plan your retirement as well. Not only to have enough money, but to do what makes you happy. Go places that you always wanted to but couldn't when you were on the job. Have a cognac after dinner. Go out with friends. That way you can never really retire because you'll always have a goal, something you want to do.
"I know I still have an opportunity/I know it's not too late to reconsider.../With the years that remain for me," Gloria and I wrote in one of the first songs we created together. Plan — to make the most of all your time.
Emilio Estefan is a music mogul, a restaurateur, a father, a husband and a philanthropist. As Life Reimagined ambassador for AARP, Emilio will share his expertise on a variety of subjects, including his passion for living, mentoring, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and much more.
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