Assessing life fit

Assessing fit between you and a career in the family business

When deciding whether to join the family business, it can be easy to focus solely on the job and how it will help you further your professional goals. But your professional life is just one aspect of your overall life. It’s important to make sure to take your time to fully assess the fit between you and a career in your family business, in three respects:

© Cambridge Family Enterprise Group 2022



This article focuses on assessing life fit, which answers the question: How will joining, or not joining, the family business impact your overall life quality?

Four ingredients for a quality life

How do you go about determining what makes for a quality life—that is, a life you really want to live?

It can feel like a daunting task. Of course, each person is unique and will find different life paths to be fulfilling. But, at the core, there are four key ingredients that provide one’s life with meaning and purpose.

Those four key ingredients for a quality life are:

  1. Momentum towards your dreams and goals
  2. A network of relationships that offer mutual support
  3. Access to and thoughtful deployment of resources
  4. Activities that give you positive life energy

© John A. Davis


Momentum towards your dreams and goals

A quality life needs a sense of momentum, that is, being in motion towards one’s goals. It is therefore important to have dreams and concrete goals, focused in part on what gives you meaning in your life. To pursue your dreams, goals and sense of meaning, you also need to have and follow practical plans, using “ruthless time management” to pursue priority activities. Most lasting change comes from making practical, incremental movements towards your goals and having the confidence and courage to make key decisions

Consider: What dreams and goals for your life does your work need to accommodate or support? Will a career in the family business give you sense of momentum towards your overall life dreams and goals?

A network of relationships that offer mutual support

Research shows that people who find their lives to be meaningful and successful are generally embedded in a network of healthy relationships, and that most of these relationships support a person’s dreams and goals. Collectively, these relationships help the person connect with others and build a mutual support system. It’s not always possible to have 100% of your key relationships be supportive of you. The goal is to have at least some key supporters in your corner though.

Consider: Will a career in the family business help you build a strong network of supportive relationships?

Access to and thoughtful deployment of resources

Multiple types of resources are required if you want to build and maintain a quality life: money, time, social networks, abilities, etc.  You need to be intentional and decisive about how you will nurture your core talents, allocate your time to high priorities, strengthen helpful alliances, grow useful networks, cultivate support from others, and build financial resources. These are all key to unlocking real value in your life and enabling you to continue to grow that value over time. Hopefully, the resources you have now are supporting you to create value. If not, you should create a plan to cultivate the resources you need for a quality life.

Consider: What resources will a career in the family business allow you to grow? What resources will you need to invest or expend?

Activities that give you positive life energy

Finally, all of these ingredients are supported by one’s life energy: What you need to nourish yourself physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. If you run out of life energy, your life literally ends. But before you reach that point, you must guard against depleting your life energy too much, which can lead to exhaustion, depression, and disease. At the very least, when your life energy falls too low, it becomes difficult to sustain creativity and your important responsibilities. Having enough life energy for pursuing one’s important activities, and a reserve of life energy when life becomes most taxing, must be key goals for any individual.

Consider: In what ways will a career in the family business nourish and add to your life energy? In what ways might it deplete your life energy?



Your professional career is a large part of your life, but it is just one part. Consider how joining, or not joining, the family business will impact your overall life quality.

Take an analytical approach to this philosophical question —what makes for a meaningful life? — by focusing on four key ingredients of life quality:

1) momentum towards your dreams and goals;

2) a network of relationships that offer mutual support;

3) access to and thoughtful deployment of resources;

4) activities that give you positive life energy.