By Bryan Orr
Work/life balance is a sticky subject for a business owner. Partially because it can be difficult to attain, but mostly because of the misunderstood expectations behind what “balance” really looks like in the relationships of the business owner.
In the early stages of starting my business, my brain was focusing on work/business/strategies, pretty much 24/7.
Yes, I even dreamed about it.
Do I look back at those days and wish for a more “balanced” mind entering entrepreneurship?
I imagine I didn’t have it all just right, but I know for a fact that in order to successfully get the business going, extreme focus was vital for the momentum of getting it up and running.
It may have looked obsessive to outsiders, and it probably was, but what are the options, and how is it possible to focus on both the business and the relationships that are priority in my life ie; spouse, children, friends, etc.?
When starting and/or running a business, communication is key to working well with people. Makes sense, right? The first place to communicate is going to be in the relationships that have top priority and are closest to you. Get those individuals on the same page as you of what running a business may look like; the good, the bad, the ugly.
When you communicate: “I may have to work 12-15+ hrs a day in the beginning and won’t be as available as normal to help with regular household/childcare duties,” you have voiced a reality that they can either 1. Reject (may want to reconsider starting the biz), or 2. Understand.
While this doesn’t mean you give up all normal duties and volunteering, it means that the closest relationships to you are going to continue to feel supported and prioritized because you’ve discussed the not so perfect circumstances, prior to, and in that you’re helping balance the relationship, the realities, and the work; and others will more likely understand that you’re in the process of creating something that requires some sacrifice.
Make agreements both with yourself and with those closest to you. You’ve clarified that it won’t always appear “balanced,” but what are some of the specifics in areas you’ll take on or areas you choose to temporarily give up?
- I may have to work late every day early on, but I’ll make sure to carve out one day a week that I let the business rest and spend time elsewhere.
- I’ll make sure to text you every day and see if there’s anything I can pick up from the store on the way home.
- I’ll stop looking at work related emails after 8pm.
- I won’t necessarily be home for dinner every single night.
You get the point. If he/she agrees then there will be less conflict when the “crunching” time approaches, and you will be more accepting and less bitter in the times that your significant other reminds you of your agreements.
Understand that Life Goes on Without You
If you’re anything like me, you get sucked into thinking that you pretty much make or break every day. Ha! While your work is important, you’ve got to face the fact that the world isn’t going to end if you stop spinning your wheels for a moment.
Because of that, don’t waste your time thinking you can’t stop. For the sake of your health, your loves, your creativity, and yeah, your business, give yourself a break and actually “stop and smell the roses.”
You won’t be sorry.
Your priorities will come into focus, your relationships won’t suffer, your brain can get refueled and you will learn to enjoy life outside of work, which will in turn help you enjoy life inside of work.
Know that Balance Isn’t a Number
While it’s ideal to break up your time and energy into perfect little increments of time at work, time at home and time at play, life doesn’t always pan out like that. Balance is more a state of mind than a specific time or number of hours perfectly spent.
Which is a good thing, and simultaneously a complicated thing.
Each person has different circumstantial dynamics, which is why you as an individual must figure out what works for you.
If you’re stopping to evaluate, if you’re communicating, if you’re following through on your agreements, if you’re pausing to smell the roses, you, dear madam or sir have indeed attained “Work Life Balance.”