How to Make Work-Life Balance Possible
The best part about owning a business - the old saying goes - is getting to choose which 12 hours of the day you work.
Starting a new company is exciting, yet intimidating; enjoyable, but difficult; exhilarating, but exhausting.
Newly minted entrepreneurs soon learn that the hours required to be successful can come at a personal cost.
Work addiction takes a toll on your health and on your relationships. And 12-hour days don't always lead to business success either.
That's why achieving a healthy Work-Life Balance is important - maybe even more than revenue forecasting or contract negotiating.
More research indicates that you can have a life and a rewarding career. The long-held notion that "putting your nose to the grindstone day and night" to be successful is being debunked.
Here's one conclusion from my experience of being a partner in two businesses and managing portions of a family company for two decades:
Work-Life Balance can happen in the entrepreneurial world; and it should be measured by what you do in each silo, not by how long you devote to each one. Entrepreneurs who fixate on hours spent on work versus time with family and leisure will not achieve balance. It cannot be tracked on a spreadsheet.
So, how do you create that balance that enables you to achieve your business goals yet enriches your personal life?
It starts with support from your inner circle. Devoted spouses, partners, family and friends keep you centered and grounded.
Beyond them, here are some other practices that can help you achieve Work-Life Balance:
It's time you listen to or remember what your mother told you. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water. Get your protein. Minimize fat intake. Your business depends on the performance of one engine - your body. Give it the fuel it needs to optimize your brainpower.
Take Breaks, Exercise.
It's too easy to sit at the computer all day. There's always one more task to do or one more email to write. Set a timer for breaks throughout the day. Get up and walk around the office (or home) or take a stroll outside. Stretch on the floor. Walk up and down your stairs a few times. At least three to four times per week, get some exercise - walking, working out at a gym or shooting baskets at the park. Put these exercise times into your Google Calendar. Consider them as important as your business meetings.
Talk to Someone Other Than Spouse, Family.
Human beings are wired to talk. We need to express ourselves - even if we are the shy, quiet type. Family and friends can be very supportive, but they don't have the experience or expertise to understand your business challenges. Think about it: Would you want to hear yourself drone on about a creative difference with a client? Find a mentor, colleague or business coach. Schedule regular lunches or coffee breaks with them. Even if you have to pay a counselor to talk with once a month, it's worth the cost.
Take Time to Reflect.
Not every minute of your life needs to be in either client presentations or coaching your kid's Little League team. Tend to your spiritual needs, even if only 15 minutes a day. Whether it's saying a faithful prayer or sipping a cup of coffee while sitting on your deck in the morning, spend a quiet moment thinking about your blessings and the greater good of your life. Listen to "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" by Elton John or whatever song speaks to your soul.
That sounds crazy, especially with your time already being a precious commodity. Helping others contributes to the balance. Find one great cause that touches your heart. Spend a few hours each month making a difference in your community. You will nurture that immense feeling of self-worth. Writing a check doesn't count.
Turn Off, Tune Out.
How did we survive in this world before cell phones and email? Unless you are an on-call first responder, power down your devices from time to time. Let your clients or customers know you are "going off the grid" or "going dark" for a certain period of time. They will understand. In fact, they might respect you for making such a bold decision.
Sometimes, the only way to make Work-Life Balance happen is to be selfish. That's difficult if you are customer-centric. However, don't be reluctant to constantly ask yourself: "What do I need in order to have a rewarding life and successful business?"
Make it about you, and not surprisingly the rest takes care of itself.
Jeff Owen likes to relax on his deck with his family and two Golden Retrievers.
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