When’s the last time you were home for dinner with your family? Are you burning the candle at both ends working to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true, but sacrificing your relationships and health in the process?
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with the intention of having more freedom to spend time with their families, but quickly realize that they just have more opportunity to work instead. This leaves them exhausted, overworked, and not living the dream they were reaching for.
Next thing you know, you’re watching TED talks and Googling articles on how to achieve work-life balance. Living in a world where it’s easy to be connected 24/7, our culture craves this idea of work-life balance. But my idea of work-life balance is probably different from what you’ve heard before.
Most often, work-life balance is the term used to separate the business of making money from the business of making a life.
Here’s the thing, though: work-life balance is a myth.
There can be harmony, but almost never total balance. Newton’s third law says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, but relationships and business aren’t quite as clear-cut.
So how do we balance it all? I can share from experience that some days it feels like I don’t. Many days, it feels like life is just a crazy hamster wheel.
Life is not going to be a balanced scale; it’s more like a blender.
Some days, weeks, or even years, our work-life smoothie needs more spinach and a little less fruit, and some seasons of life, it’s the other way around.
When it comes down to it, the ingredients of life are the things you’re focused on. So what’s on your calendar? What are you spending money on? Who are you spending time with?
Your answer today may be different from your answer next month since this will change on a regular basis, depending on where you are in life and what matters most in each season. There are seasons of life that may involve a lot of late nights of work and others that involve a lot more family time and leisure.
The bottom line is that it’s your life, and you don’t need to feel guilty because someone else is telling you it’s out of balance.
Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” If you feel a tug in a certain direction (staying late at the office to focus on an important project or taking some time off to spend quality time with your family), start to communicate that to the people in your life and take steps toward change.
Focus on what matters most in your current season. Make a plan with your team to handle your work while you are out, and then disconnect and make time for family.
If you’re prepping for a busy work season, make a plan with your family for how you’re going to handle it. Keeping everyone in the loop and working together on a plan will ensure your business continues to grow and your family continues to flourish, no matter the season you’re in.
Now that you’re equipped with perspective on the work-life blender, how do you practically work this into your life? I love action, so here are a few action items to help you get started:
- Write down the top three priorities in your life. These could be related to family, friends, businesses, or spiritually. Now, look at your calendar and your monthly spending. Do the things you spend the most time and money on reflect your top three priorities? Own up to where you are, and think about where you want to be. What changes need to be made to allow you to make life a little more harmonious and line up with your top priorities?
- If you work from home, have a designated space where work happens. Maybe it’s a corner desk or a full office, but whatever it is, when you’re in that space, everyone knows you’re working. Having a specific place to pull out the laptop or focus on the phone, even at home, can help everyone know when you’re in work mode and when you’re actually available.
- Schedule personal time. I don’t mean just talk about it or think about it. Actually put it on your calendar. Block out specific time for lunch or dinner or time at the park that’s just for family. Guard it like you would any important meeting. And stick to it.
- Take time completely away from work. Make a plan with your team, then turn your out-of-office message on, put your phone on airplane mode, and fully unplug from work. You’ll come back rested, refreshed, and ready to hit the ground running again.
It’s been a wild year and a crazy season. As a husband, father of five, business owner, author, and speaker, I know how hard it can be to feel like you’re actually managing both work and life. But it IS possible and you CAN do it. You just have to really make an effort. Once you get the hang of it, though, you’ll wish you had learned the work-life blender secret a lot sooner!
If you’re interested in learning more about the work-life blender, you can read more in my book “Building a Business That Lasts.” Get your free copy here!