Life and Balance – the cost of entrepreneurship
Why Work life and balance is necessary
So many new entrepreneurs give up their day job for a sense of freedom. They dream of the autonomy of working for themselves. New business owner cited wanting more time with their families. They also want to have a successful career they dictate. The dream is a full life and balance between work and their personal lives.
The Realities of your new life and balance
What tends to happen when we head off on our own is just the opposite. The workload increases. At the same time, we allow time with family to take a back seat to all the menial tasks of running a business. Eighty percent of new business owners are working more than 40 hours a week. Half of those people are working a lot more than that.
Long hours are a necessary evil when a business is in its infancy. This period of your business can last for a year or longer. In fact, most entrepreneurs work more hours rather than fewer. Even after their businesses grow.
In a survey of small business owners, more than half said they didn’t expect a change in the hours worked. Additionally, a third of respondents stated that they expected their hours to increase.
“For 85% of entrepreneurs, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.” thealternativeboard.com
Maintaining this kind of lifestyle is difficult. Not only does it affect your well-being but your close relationships as well.
The legend of Work Life and Balance
Busy and lacking sleep, new business owners continue to dream about someday. Maybe they keep a bucket list or at least think of things they want to do when someday comes. The problem is someday is always around the corner but never seems to become today. We go home to our families every night after a long day at work, and we talk about our day.
We talk about what happened at work, the new client we just signed and the crazy thing this employee did. I’ll bet your husband knows more about your staff than he cares to know. There’s a strong possibility that he’s never met them.
The Illusive promise of Someday
Like many others, I had a bucket list of 100 things I want to do before I die. This list is not a morbid fantasy list this is stuff I dreamed of doing. This list was my symbol of someday, that’s all it was. I could never find the time or resources to get things crossed off my list. The lack of time and resources became another excuse to keep on working.
I wanted more than a symbolic list. I wanted to document the things I could do now to force myself to experience life instead of only writing about it. If you’re a workaholic and you can’t seem to separate your life from your work consider making a balance list.
What your conversations say about your quality of life
Having substance for conversation outside of work is a sign that you’re living your life. What do you conversate about at the end of a work day? You can’t talk to your kids about work. They don’t care.
I don’t know if you have kids, but communication with my girls is important to me. My daughters, as teens weren’t exactly overflowing with information. This was especially true when it came to their social life. What do you talk to your kids about? If you’re like most parents, you’re talking about their school work, chores, and rules.
What about your spouse and your friends? If your career, business or industry topics tend to dominate this conversation, it might be time to re-evaluate your values. Notice the things you talk about next time you’re together. If it’s all about work, you’re working too much and not living enough.
Obsession with work
You love your business, but there’s more to you than that. As an entrepreneur, I could spend days at the computer pounding away at the keyboard. I’m ashamed to admit it but, I’ve skipped a day without showering because I’m glued to the screen. I literately had to force myself to get up get dressed and have a life outside of my business world.
If someone asked me what I do for fun, I would revert to talking about my business. Does this sound like you too? Pay attention to what you speak about next time you have a conversation.
I’m not under the illusion that everyone reaches this level of obsession with their work. However, we have all let ourselves justify a lack of sleep and self-care in the interest of getting more work done. In the process taking extended amounts of time away from those that matter most.
The cost of ambition
Drive, ambition and focused on your work are fundamental to success. As a society, we applaud these qualities, as it should be. My argument is not against these qualities. My argument is that these things should not supersede your well-being or your personal relationships. It’s important to maintain your life and balance your ambition with your other values.
My business is my passion. I’m okay with working 20 hour days to have the privilege of doing it. Still, where does that leave me and the life I said I was going to have by leaving work and opting for freedom? I was free but not living. My entrepreneurial life and balance with my personal life eluded me for a long time.
Working for a tyrant
So here we are giving it all we’ve got. We’re all putting in the hours and listening to our self-critic every day talking down to us. We still continue to put everything back into our businesses because we love it.
I didn’t leave my job to work for myself only to discover I’m a tyrant. Who would work for a boss like this? No one would.
For me, as I suspect it is for most people, my work is a labor of love. Now I’ve decided that I will also strive to have a life well lived.
Creating a full life and balance
I have a bucket list I share with my husband, one for myself and one I share with my kids. I call them balance lists because they remind me to make time for the most important people in my life. They help me create a rich life and balance out my time between family and work.
It seems that spending quality time with your spouse and family would be second nature but, it’s not. We often take it for granted that the people in our lives will always be there. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The balance lists help us make sure we take advantage of the time we spend with them.
So why a list?
It’s easy to get stuck into a routine of watching T.V. together and calling it “quality” time. Believe me. I’ve done that too. I sit in front of the television spending time with my husband while I’m doing research on my phone. I don’t watch T.V., so it made this time more productive for me. Yup, I was making time with my husband productive, this is sad.
It’s all in the Quality
Instead, think of these lists as mini experiences. Experience new places, new activities and learn together to enhance the memory. New experiences give you a lot to talk about, laugh about and enjoy each others company in new ways.
If not for the experiences that my family and have together because of our lists, we would sit in silence. These lists are the one thing we have in common. It takes us out of our everyday lives and gives us memories.
Now we have things to talk about as a family, beyond school, work and everyday problems that life brings. So we’re excited to be together.
Why your lists will create a more balanced life
As entrepreneurs, we see the most value in work. This work is what’s going to take care of our family so it should be at the top of the list. I understand this logic, but it also contradicts why we do the work in the first place.
If it’s not on the schedule, it gets pushed aside. Having a list of bucket items helps you put your time with family and friends on your schedule. If you plan it, you’re more likely to follow through.
The second reason this will help is the value you perceive each appointment has. There is always the opportunity cost of choosing one thing over another.
If you take time away from something as important as your work you need an even better reason to do it. Don’t just put “time with family” on the schedule. You’ll push it, believe me, I’ve been there.
The balance list
To get passed this I created my first balance list. The list had specific things my family and I would do together. It had on it places we would go, things we could learn together and so on. The list is a tool to enhance your life and balance your work.
How to use the list
The idea was to put things on the list I’ve always wanted to do, no matter how small. I value adventure, so I put together things I hadn’t seen in my city and then things I could do in a day.
I wanted to share this with my husband and kids, so I had my husband help me out with one list, and we did another as a family. Now it’s became something I do with my daughters individually too.
Once a week I choose one thing for myself, schedule it, and I make sure I can cross it off my list. I plan time with my daughters once a month and with my husband twice a month. That’s seven dates a month for self-care and spending time with my family.
When you don’t have the time
Sometimes I go weeks without crossing off a bucket list item. Having a period where you focus on only work is okay too. Sometimes work does need to get done. The things you do together with your family and for yourself are so memorable you won’t feel the pain of having less time.
The time you do spend together is pure quality, and no amount of mindless T.V. watching will top it. I suspect you won’t feel as guilty about the time away because the time together is so memorable.
Finding Ideas for a better life and balance with your personal values
Planning and keeping track of your personal goals is a way to live your life while building your future. We get so focused on a particular goal we forget that we’re on this earth to live and have experience life. Because of this, we have to schedule our personal life just as we do our professional life.
You may not know what experiences you want to get out of life. Maybe you haven’t given any thought to the subject. In this case, it’s a good idea to start with a personal values list.
The Little things matter Most
Having a better life and balance between work and your personal life is all about the little things. In my case, I value adventure, and I value family, so I have mini adventures with my husband and daughters.
These are not the big bucket list items. What goes on these lists are the little things. Things like trying a new restaurant, going to a park we’ve never been to or checking out a new hiking trail. There’s always something new to discover.
If you value creativity, for example, you could put paint my first canvas portrait on the list. Another example is to take a pottery class or learning how to knit. It can be anything you can think of, and it doesn’t have to become a hobby, but it does have to be an experience.
The balance list Items Don’t Define You
The things on your list don’t have to be about your hobbies or what you already know you enjoy doing. It’s about trying something new, learning and discovering to create a lasting memory. You may not be good at it, but you’ll laugh, and you’ll learn.
I wouldn’t consider myself a hiker. Still, I love to discover trails and see new places. Even though I don’t identify myself as a hiker or wouldn’t consider it a hobby, I enjoy it every once in a while.
Putting work life and balance into perspective
So many of us plan our workdays for the sake of productivity, but we fail when it comes to our personal life. We push aside the most important aspect of our lives and the very reason we want to succeed in the first place. All of this for the sake of the work.
Is your freedom free? Between the long work days do you live your life to the fullest? Create a definition of what freedom means to you. You should have a clear vision of a business you’re proud, that’s wonderful. You should also have an extensive list of accomplishments and memories outside of that world. Make it a life well lived.