It seems like for as long as I have been working and especially after I became an entrepreneur, I have struggled with “work-life” balance.
I mean how do you manage the demands of work or business and still show up with energy, enthusiasm and drive in your personal life?
I don’t know about you, but for me, work and business and client projects slowly took over my entire life.
As an entrepreneur, you are always in action, always planting seeds, always marketing, always doing business development…so it became less personal and more business.
My conversations were about business, my celebrations were about business, my travel was centered around industry conferences, and every new and exciting thing that had my time and focus was business related.
Now, don’t get me wrong. As an entrepreneur, you have to work hard, give it everything you have and more, stumble, get back up and drive even harder…that’s the path and journey we accept.
But I remember reaching a point where I knew if I didn’t slow down, I would have a meltdown. I had landed a huge contract and my private client base just kept growing and growing.
People wanted me, not my partner, not my associates, just me.
Sounds like a great problem to have, right? Well, while I didn’t complain about the bank account balance, I didn’t even have enough time to spend or enjoy the fruits of my labor. I became tired, cranky and overweight.
So, I did the unthinkable and took a 5 month hiatus with my business…stopped taking on new clients, closed out projects and returned to me.
The challenge was that after years and years of sacrificing personal time and hobbies, I actually forgot (yes, forgot) what I enjoyed.
Yikes…what was my favorite music, what did I like doing in quiet time, what was the last book I read for pleasure, what friends have I connected with? Everything seemed like a distant memory and blur.
Reviving my interests and personal activities
I will admit that it was not easy and it took over a year before I was able to free up my weekends, enjoy holidays and start taking vacations again.
That year, I took a trip to Costa Rica where I ziplined for the first time…I still look at the pictures in amazement that I really did that:)
Today, I have restructured my business to have a more manageable workload and take on projects I feel passionate about. I am connected to a supportive team of colleagues and associates for reciprocal referrals and strategic partnerships.
I am more energized and focused with my business and enjoy deeper client relationships and fulfilling coaching and branding engagements.
Where do you stand today with work-life balance?
There is never a perfect solution to personal and professional demands and at the end of the day, success ALWAYS follows hard work and sacrifice. So where is the sweet spot for you? How do you live fully while making a living?
From my personal experience, I know it is possible to take care of ourselves and our businesses/work if we are willing to make adjustments.
Here are key strategies that worked for me:
1) Stay Connected to What Keeps You Centered
Whether you draw strength from a relationship with God, monthly massages, connecting with close friends every week, taking an exercise or yoga class, walking with a friend or making time for your spouse and family, make a personal commitment to stick that routine.
I find that when I start my day off with prayer, meditation and journaling, I get more accomplished in less time than those days I jump right out the bed and into a frenzy of activities.
Exercising several times a week and it’s a great outlet for releasing stress and connecting with others.
2) Listen to Your Body
Our bodies are amazing and when we pay attention to our bodies and take the time to treat it right, we can actually get more done in a day.
Let me ask you this…how are you feeling right now? How did you sleep last night or the night before? What are your eating habits? What’s your energy level like on regular basis?
You cannot show up confident, motivated, creative or productive when your body is overworked and depleted. What in your diet and physical activities need to change? Not just for satisfying New Year’s resolutions, but for your good.
3) Manage Expectations
When you are working yourself into a frenzy, what is the real reason or root cause?
- Do you need better time management skills?
- Are you trying to gain approval of others?
- Are you afraid to say no?
- Are you not delegating enough?
Sometimes we can get into a pattern of pleasing others or living according to other people’s standards. Be willing to take a close look at your actions and evaluate your motivations. Talk to a coach or mentor can be helpful in channeling your thoughts.
4) Set Healthy Boundaries
Yes, real life and real business are intimately connected, but that doesn’t mean that you need to give up your entire world.
Are you the one everyone calls on to get things done? Do you ignore your own personal needs to “fix” everyone else’s issues? Are you guilty of trying to save or rescue people?
Again, understanding the underlying thoughts, beliefs and motivations that drive your actions can set you free. Establish healthy boundaries for work and home, people may not like it, but they adjust…trust me:)
5) Leverage Technology & Others
We can’t manage real life and a real business without good systems. Use calendaring systems, apps, reminders, and what ever bells and whistles your smart phone or device has to help you stay organized and efficient.
Learn to ask for help…if you cannot do it alone or it puts enormous pressure on you, get support, say no or say not right now. Look at where things feel out of sorts and resolve to create or improve a system to get things on track.
Life is not going to be a perfectly smooth ride. We will always need to be flexible and be willing to adjust as the unexpected changes and shifts happen, but making our wellness (body, mind and spirit) a priority helps us survive for the long haul.
Achieving personal success and reaching a good place in your career for fulfillment and satisfaction will stem from a place where you feel mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically well.