3 Ways To Pursue Your Passion When You Have A Family

Posted by in Career Success | 10 comments

Sometimes one of the things we can perceive as an obstacle to pursuing our passions is having a family.

Everyone’s situation is different so if you’re single this may not apply to you.

A Blue Sunday Family PortraitCreative Commons License Pierre via Compfight

But many of us have a significant other, spouse, and children.

If we’re not careful we can begin to see our families as standing in the way of doing the work we love.

Instead of hearing your child say, “Can you take me to the park?” we hear, “I’m going to stop you from working toward your dream today.”

If you believe this for long enough you will begin to resent your family and in some cases this thinking may destroy your family and your relationships.

What Can You Do?

Reframe your thinking to understand that having a successful career does not mean you have a successful life.

You can get to the top without your family and significant relationships but you will be lonely and isolated.

You can get to the top by prioritizing your career over your family but in the process you will have destroyed the mental and emotional well-being of those who loved you most.

There are seven key areas of life to be invested in that will help you have a successful, meaningful, and fulfilling life:

Personal Development

Your career is just one of those areas.

How To Pursue Your Passion With A Family

Define your non-negotiables. What are your priorities? The best resource I know to help with this is Michael Hyatt’s Personal Life Plan. It’s a free download when you sign up for his newsletter. It will help you define the order of priorities in your life. So when you must make a decision about where to spend your time and effort this will help you know the order of importance.

Join the 5am club. If I’ve learned nothing else since being married and having children I’ve learned this. My time is not my own. If you’ve decided to add the responsibilities of a family to your life your “free time” comes at a price. But guess when my wife never asks me to help her with something? At 5am. Guess when my kids never want to play? Yep, 5am again. You can be selfish at 5am. You can work toward your passion and focus on you at 5am. A great resource to help you start getting up early is Andy Traub’s book Early To Rise.

Understand the opportunity this presents. Do you know how many blogs I started, how many people I coached, or how many books I wrote before having a wife and kids? None. Having those wonderful relationships in my life forced me to look at how I was spending my time. Think of it almost as a purification and refinement of your life. If you want a successful life you can only afford to spend time investing in the things that add value in all seven areas of your life. The rest is just fluff.

The world will heap awards and acknowledgement on you if you achieve success in your career.

Yet rarely are we applauded or recognized for investing in the relationships with our loved ones.

There is a tension between pursuing your career goals and investing in your family.

You’ll mess up in both areas at times and you’ll never achieve a perfect balance.

However, after the awards have rusted and the spotlight has been turned off, if you’ve invested time in your family, guess who will be there to tell you how much they love you and how important you are to them?

Your family.

That’s where success truly begins.


Question: What is another solution to working toward your career goals without destroying your family?

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links)


  • Allison Horak

    Adam, this is a great article. Thanks for writing it. As my kids have gotten older, I’ve started sharing some of my career aspirations with them. I think this helps them with their maturity and they start to envision themselves making decisions in the future. Additionally, when you have to explain something to your kids, it’s a real check on whether the choices you’re making even make sense coming out of your mouth!

    • Thanks so much Allison. What a great way to process your career goals. Also, like you said, it models how to make decisions about our careers for your children. I know you’ve always made your family a priority throughout your career. Thanks for your comment.

  • Dave Unger

    “Do you know how many blogs I started, how many people I coached, or how many books I wrote before having a wife and kids? None.”

    Powerful statement.

    You’re absolutely right, Adam, that having a family and the responsibilities it entails can force us to prune and prioritize our commitments. Responsibilities help us see just how precious our time is.

    • It sure does Dave. The amount of “free” time I have these days is so precious I want to make sure I use it wisely. I know many others are in the same boat.

  • Dilpreet Bhatia

    Loved reading it man!! And Last lines.. Family is everything.. We all crave for that spotlight.. And loose so many precious moments with our family!!

    • Thanks Dilpreet. Yes, the allure of the spotlight is enticing but it can come at a cost.

  • Brady

    This was a fantastic article. I’m 21 and recently found out I was having a daughter. I have a mixture of emotions but try to remain positive for the experience, but a lingering fear is that my daughter and family will hold me back from pursuing my passions and goals as a musician, a dream I’ve had since I was very young and have been pushing for since. It is a career a lot of people see as unrealistic and hard enough and I know the responsibilities of catering another life won’t make it any easier. I don’t want to end up resenting my loved ones but I also want to push for my dreams so I still feel like I lived my life to the fullest. I try to balance my time as much as possible but I still have a lot of work to do. Your article, even if I am stumbling upon it 4 years later, is very inspiring. Thank you.

    • Thanks for commenting on my post Brady. Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your daughter. Daughters are special and I pray you will make wise choices as you enter into the role of a father. I’m glad the post was inspiring for you and I wish you much success as you pursue your career goals.

  • Corpius

    Great article. I do have one question. What if you are middle age (50).
    In the middle of ‘life’ (college kids, highschool), middle of midlife crisis (wife unsure of the relationship, looking for meaning in here life).. Can these rules apply still apply… can a person have a major career change ? I understand and love this article, but I am concerned that making changes at the stage bogs me down with risk of failure and risk of removing the security my family expects .

    • Career changes can come at any age and any season of life. However, it is always wise to look at the overall impact of a career change on the other 6 areas of life and the season of life you are in. Sometimes it might be best to hold off on making a major shift until you reach a certain milestone (i.e child graduating, kid’s college is paid for, health issues are resolved, etc.). Not to say you couldn’t move forward with a career change, but you always want to evaluate the impact it is going to have on the 6 other areas of life. If you’re comfortable with the potential impact in those other areas then perhaps it is a good time to make a change. If not, then make plans for a change in the future and slowly work toward the time that is right for you and your family.