Personal. Family. Work. Life

I’ve always struggled with balancing the holy trinity that is personal, work and family life and I guess I’m not the only one.

As a father who runs his own business and looks after a super active 3 year old, it can be a struggle to stretch myself to make sure that each part of my life gets the attention it deserves, but it never seems to “fit”.

This struggle to find balance is not new to me. In fact, looking back over the years, I’ve been a victim on many occasions, which has left permanent scars.

As a youngster, I would rarely see my parents as they were working 14 hour days 7 days a week to provide for me, my brother and sisters. My parents only knew how to work and they never had any hobbies or never really consciously took care of their health.

Their total focus was to provide the essentials to our family, until one day when I was about 7 or 8 years old that my mother found out she had cancer.

I remember the moment she told me, and even though I was only young and didn’t really know what it meant, when she broke down and cried, I knew that it was something serious.

Our family changed forever after that.

I started helping out in our family business. Peeling potatoes outside in the freezing cold, helping out in the kitchen, peeling frozen prawns, which is nothing new for a young British born Chinese kids.

My father, who had just taken on a new shop 30 miles away with a 2 hour return commute, struggled to spend any time with the family, even more than he had before when he was just working 14 hour days.

My sister had by now left home and were going their own way with their lives and all that was left to run our shop and home was me, my brother and my mother who was struggling with coping with the news.

It wasn’t long before we had to close our business and move homes, as our family wasn’t able to keep the shop running.

My mother battled against the cancer for years after that, seeking treatment abroad and locally, which meant at times, I was pretty much looking after myself and when it looked like she had beaten it, we were all so grateful.

But unfortunately, in the summer of 2001, the cancer came back, and it came back hard. Out of no-where, within a few months, my mother wasn’t able to walk because the cancer had spread to her spine and in November that year, she passed away. I was just 19 years old.

I would struggle years after that, and I felt the most loneliest person in the world at times and I vowed that if I ever had a family, I would do things so differently and that work would not take precedence over my family and my personal life.

Having gone through those difficult times when I was a teenager, I now see many people lose loved ones, hear people who struggle with their health, see others who find their lives stuck in meaningless work to make money that they forget to spend quality time with their family, and it saddens me because when our time is up, we don’t just go with our regrets in life, we leave a lasting influence, whether that’s positive or negative, on our children.

My mother died when she was 56 years old.

I’m 36 years old now, so I could potentially only have 20 years to live.

20 years. That’s such a short time.

5 Olympic events.

5 more world cups.

It’s scary but in the next 20 years, will I want to spend that time doing something I’m not happy while it’s taking my enjoyment of spending time with my family?

How would you spend your time if you were told you only had 20 years to live?

So if you’re:

Feeling your life is out of sync,

your health’s weakening

struggling to find time for your family,

not wanting to miss out on life,

but you want to do something about it, then welcome to the Urban Lifestyle Challenge.

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