My dad has been a sounding board, a mentor, and a critic. He’s been my coach, my travel buddy, and financial manager. He’s been a constant throughout my life, and I’ve come to rely on him for advice and counsel on almost every decision I make.

He’s my dad, and I love him dearly.

Throughout my four decades on Earth, he’s passed along many pearls of wisdom — and a few duds, too. Nobody’s perfect. But more than anything else, he’s given me an example of how to live a life of integrity, value, and success. And I believe there’s one piece of advice that stands out above all others.

"Work first, then relax."

In essence, his mantra is to get your work done and do it right. Do it to the best of your ability. Then, you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I’ll grant you that his message isn’t poetic, and it isn’t novel. But it is accurate. And it can be life-changing and life-affirming.

Like most kids, I hated doing my chores or my homework. My preference was to play all day. Well, that’s not reality. Because my father impressed (forced?) his philosophy upon me at an early age, I always had an ingrained sense of accomplishment. It was my responsibility to get my work done first and then I could play. So, whether it was mowing the lawn or cleaning my room or working on a book report, I felt the need to complete the task and clear my mind of the work before I could truly enjoy myself by playing.

Here are some ways to get this message across to your kids:

1. Be the Example

If your kids see you working and crossing items off of your to-do list, they will feel much more motivated to do the same. Words are important to encourage and entice, but it’s our actions that speak the loudest.

2. Show Them the Benefits

Every morning my five-year-old is nearly late for school because he wants to watch TV and play rather than get dressed and brush his teeth. It’s endlessly annoying. My goal is to teach him that if he does what he needs to do right away, then he will have more time to do the things that he wants to do. Plus, he won’t have his parents breathing down his neck.

3. Check In With Them

Ask them what they accomplished today, and how they feel about it. If they can connect the dots between their actions, the results of their actions, and how it benefited them, they will be much more likely to make this behavior part of their daily routine.

4. Reward Them

When your child finishes their chores or homework and follows this mantra, impress upon them how proud you are and then reward them something special. We learn by doing and we learn by feeling good about our actions.

Finally, this thought from my dad permeates every single thing that I do. I suppose that’s what happens when something is a part of your life for as long as you can remember. If you or your child is able to make that happen, it could eliminate all-nighters doing school projects, enable you to get more accomplished around the house, and be more productive and reliable at work.