7 Proven Steps Towards a Life of Balance: Part ONE
Let’s review some myths.
- Successful people put their personal lives second.
- Choosing to focus on anything outside of your professional goals is for suckers.
- Entrepreneurs who are making bank and living happy, healthy lives DON’T have families/kids/partnerships.
- Single parents absolutely can’t own a business and run a happy household. End of story.
- Mute phone or computer notifications for a few hours a day and while you sleep
- Schedule vacation time well in advance, before you have a chance to say “Oh, I’ll do it later”. Consider future you and your mental wellbeing.
- Tell friends and family that it’s okay for you to be “unreachable” for a couple of hours, over the weekend, or during your time off. Hey – we all know folks will leave a voicemail if there’s a truly urgent situation.
- Read a book during your daily commute, on breaks, or to unwind before bed
- Download apps (I know, I know, stick with me) that help monitor your time online or block you temporarily from accessing other apps or websites
- Make yourself accountable for signing off of work duties at a certain hour each night. Give yourself adequate time to relax and rest your eyes (and brain) from the daily strain of screens.
- Hit up Amazon Prime now for delivery of anything from groceries to toilet paper in as quick as 2 hours
- Have your laundry and dry cleaning picked up and delivered, freshly washed and pressed just in time for your video conference call
- Hire a freelancer to clean up your LinkedIn bio or finally tackle that Excel spreadsheet data that you’ve put off for a year
- Prehchedule gifts, flowers, and even gift card delivers far in advance so that you never miss a birthday, anniversary, or special occasion
- Spruce up your window (home-office) view by finally hiring a landscape service to maintain and beautify your yard once a month
- Reward yourself with a wine, craft beer, or chocolate club subscription
- Slash meal prep time in half with healthy meal plan and prep services
Have you heard any of these? Have you allowed yourself to be limited by believing them?
The truth is, myths like these are narratives that only function to keep certain people on top and others below.
And, of course, statements like these are never 100% true. Or even 50% true. If they were, few people would ever consider taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
So let’s bust these myths and address one of the most often asked questions I receive about being an entrepreneur:
“How do you do it? Work AND actually have a life?”
It turns out, there are tried and true methods to achieving balance in your life when it comes to owning a business. I’ve followed through on every one of these tips and have an amazing, fulfilling whole life balance to show for it. But you’ve got to be willing to put in the effort and make these methods a consistent priority.
Because if you let it, work can bury you. Customers, clients, and business partners can inadvertently lead you to feel like there is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT AND URGENT than their needs.
Yes, in ALL CAPS.
Ladies and gentlemen: there is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT AND URGENT than YOUR OWN NEEDS.
Say it again, with feeling. In ALL CAPS.
Because when your needs are met, you’ve got the power and capacity to meet the needs of clients, customers, business partners, AND loved ones. It cannot work in reverse – at least not in any sustainable fashion.
It’s funny how that works. But it’s also based in some pretty solid research and science, such as the revered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
If you are serious about starting a business, but worried about letting the things that matter most to you fall to the wayside, then keep reading. Because you are far from alone in this dilemma.
And that includes you, single moms and dads. Your life may come with additional challenges but props to you for doing what you do. Know that you also come at this with incredible additional skills, like: masterful multitasking, negotiation skills (hello, dinner and bedtime routines), and kickass budgeting tactics — to name a few.
So, let’s get right into demonstrating how you do not have to sacrifice your personal life in order to bring home the bacon. This post is part ONE so be sure to check in for part two where I’ll take you through 3 more tips for radical whole life balance.
1. Get Super Clear on Your Goals
This can be done through various methods that work best for you, including mind mapping, lists, use of goal-setting apps, journaling, or brainstorming. The key here is that whatever technique you choose to use, your energy behind it needs to be intentional. Consider the areas of your career and personal life that are non-negotiable in terms of importance. Another way to think of this is: How will I know if I’m failing in business and in my personal life?
Using your chosen technique, sit down and write at least 3 goals for your business and 3 goals for your personal life. Then, write down realistic examples of tasks that will help you achieve those goals. An example may be;
Bring in 7k a month
Launch a new website by next year
Establish 2 new clients a month
How to Achieve
Social media marketing, side hustle
Save $ each month, develop outline
Email funnels, client referral program
Connect with kids/family one-on-one every week
Plan and budget for a summer vacation
Take up rock climbing again
How to Achieve
Schedule consistent time in calendar, solicit their ideas
Save $300/month, research, make Feb 20th a deadline to book
Join gym, get accountability partner
Write these goals in your planner or on your whiteboard and check in on them monthly (set a calendar reminder). Adjust them accordingly as your needs change. But, if come mid-year, you feel you aren’t close to achieving these goals – or are routinely falling short – then you MUST resolve to reassess your lifestyle, workflow, and everyday routine.
Balance is accomplished when you are killin’ your goals on BOTH ends of the spectrum.
2. Get an Idea of Your Most Productive Time Frames
This is a quite simple, but often overlooked, task. It involves intentionally taking time to note down the hours, days, and time periods during your work week that you are most productive and focused.
To do this, commit to tracking your work tasks for a week. Again, this doesn’t have to be complicated. Write down in your planner, or jot in your phone notes, the hours/times of day that you crushed your to-do list or felt most creative and useful. Another easy way to do this is by going through your emails or phone log and noting the times that you were super active.
After a week, don’t judge the findings. But take what you’ve noticed and find patterns. Do you take breaks mid-afternoon or find your mind wandering before lunch? Are you doing your best work after the kids are in bed? Does your productivity ramp up after 10am (caffeine kicking in?) or immediately after rockin’ a hardcore gym workout?
Schedule your most critical tasks and projects during these hours to gain the most of your skills and time. And still have meaningful time to devote to friends, family, and yourself.
So, GET TO WORK (at the times that your brain is functioning most optionally).
3. Get (and Stay) Healthy
Do not let this freak you out or deter you. Getting and staying healthy can be whatever that means to YOU. But the point is, be honest with yourself. You know for damn sure when you don’t feel good, when your body is dragging, when your mind is foggy, or when your relationships are suffering.
Entrepreneurship won’t tolerate anything less than real. THAT is no myth. A self-owned business is only as healthy as it’s owner.
Commit to your overall wellbeing in ways that are viable. NO EXCUSES.
If you can’t commit to joining a gym, hope on YouTube for amazing DIY workouts that require ZERO equipment or membership fees. Or play ball with your kids.
Take your supplements while you eat breakfast or drink coffee.
Meditate, pray, or write in your journal a few times a week.
If eating healthy is a challenge, flip the script: instead of saying you can have one “cheat” day, how about you start with one “healthy” day a week? Habits have to begin somewhere.
Hell, do squats while you fold laundry.
Get creative, folks. Build it (your body and health) and they will come.
4. Lean on a Support Network
Once again, tailor this to your needs.
No, you don’t have to attend monthly meet-and-greets or book clubs. You don’t even need to be an extrovert. But the solitary entrepreneur will find that, more often than not, they feel disconnected. While reflection and alone time are necessary for self-growth, beware of periods where you isolate yourself socially for too long.
Human connection is not just a desire, it’s an actual need. Having a few close friends or family to lean on provides us with validation, a sense of purpose, and allows us to bounce ideas or worries off of others instead of taking them all on ourselves.
Some people prefer to network professionally while others thrive on relationships outside of work. Remember that even having a therapist or mentor will greatly increase your chances of maintaining a successful whole life balance. These are safe places to go when you need to vent, navigate a tough situation, or even celebrate successes.
Find the people you feel most comfortable with and nourish those relationships. These are the people who help you forget about work for an hour or two, relax, and let loose. These can also be the people that inspire you creatively or boost your confidence. Either way, lean on them.
Because chances are, they will be leaning on you as well.
Own Your Life. No One Else Can.
Here’s the thing: no one else can create a balanced life for you. Think about that. You can hire someone to do almost anything, but you can’t hire a person to make your life perfect or happy. This is why so many celebrities and well-known people often find themselves in dire and sad circumstances.
Because a life lived on your own terms starts from within. It starts with understanding your purpose, honoring your commitment, and reflecting often on the state of your business and personal life. An it can’t be bought with any amount of money.
A well-balanced, fulfilling life is maintained by creating a framework that nourishes the bottom line: that of your business and that of your heart.
Stay tuned for part two of this post, where we talk about the value of unplugging, how to hold yourself accountable, and outsourcing some key tasks.
7 Proven Steps Towards a Life of Balance Part TWO
This article is second in a two-part series about how you you can (and deserve to) design a life that includes both massive success and remarkable whole life balance.
Take yourself back a few years, or forty, to the time you learned to ride a bike. Without training wheels. And mostly likely, without a helmet.
Think about all of the complex skills that were actually required in that task: pedaling while steering, coasting, learning to brake, and dismounting (who else wasn’t prepared for THAT challenge)?
But perhaps the skill that was most relied on was balance.
It takes an awful lot of coordination, strength, and blind trust to be able to stay in control of a moving object. Remember how hard you had to focus to make turns and change directions without toppling over and skinning a knee? Balance is a nuanced, physical ability that can be learned, improved (and even lessened) over time.
But do you remember that moment when you finally nailed it? When you suddenly realized you were cruising down the street, bike spoke beads clicking loudly as you pedaled faster, without a care in the world?
COME ON, that was freedom, wasn’t it?
What the heck does this have to do with being an entrepreneur?
When you tell someone you own your own business, or that you work from home, you often hear one of these types of statements:
“Oh, that must be nice to be able to do whatever you want during the day! Like shopping, or meeting up with friends, or taking a nap.”
“Oh man, that must mean you never get to escape your work, right? You live, breathe, and eat work when you own your own business
The truth is, a person could easily find themselves on either end of the spectrum if they didn’t make whole life balance a priority. It’s certainly not inconceivable to allow the daily grind of work to consume you. It’s also just as tempting to give yourself a “cheat” day or ten with work, until you find yourself literally paying for it.
Balancing the whole of business and personal life doesn’t have to be elusive. There’s no secret sauce or proprietary process. But it also isn’t something that you can just – POOF – instantly be gifted with.
It’s Like Riding a Bike…
Cue back to that first scene.
Balance was something you learned. Practiced. Perfected. It took work. Until, soon, you were popping wheelies and and riding hands-free. Learning how to harness balance when it comes to being an entrepreneur is no different.
Balance is something you cultivate. Balance is a non-negotiable that you focus on every single day. It should be a core value at the center of everything you do, professionally and personally.
If this sounds like it’s just too much work, trust me: the alternative life of overwhelm, stress, and disconnect comes at a far greater cost.
And, balance gets easier with commitment and consistency.
In part one of this series, we covered the following four tips to help even the busiest of entrepreneurs restore sanity and balance to their life: Get clear on your goals, tap into your productivity, focus on your health, and lean on a support network.
Next up are three more ways to keep that ride called life rollin’ steady. With far fewer flat tires and so much more joy.
5. Tune Out, Turn Off, Drop Out
Timothy Leary’s advice to the counterculture of the late 1960’s of “Tune in, turn on, drop out” may have had many meanings. But he essentially issued a rally cry to folks to go inward and have interactions of harmony and peace with others.
I think most of us would agree that this philosophy is timeless and perhaps needed more than ever before. In the day and age of constant digital noise, streaming EVERYthing, and notifications gone wild, we could all benefit from unplugging and going all old school.
Cutting out even a small portion of the daily distractions helps us to decompress. To focus on the people and relationships right in front of us (including the relationship with ourselves). It gives us pause and cultivates an innate sense of curiosity and desire to connect more deeply with life.
Which ultimately means, we return to our work much-more level headed, less tapped out, and with a greater ability to focus.
So what can you do to detox from technology?
6. Hold Yourself Accountable for Balance
Consistency and discipline, while not always easy, will be your BFF’s when it come to being the boss of you.
But ensuring that your friends, family, and business partners know that whole life balance is a priority to you is just as important. Communicating that message frequently, and walking the talk, will demonstrate your commitment to the cause. It will also help others respect and honor your boundaries around balance.
One thing that will help tremendously is to follow through on your commitments. People will be far more willing to trust that you’ll get something done – despite unplugging for the day or taking vacation – when you consistently do what you said you were going to do. Earning their trust means you earn the ability to have far greater balance, freedom, and success in your life.
Schedule time each week to go over your to-do lists and study what you accomplished, what you didn’t, and WHY. This kind of reflection is critical to self-growth as well as business growth. You can’t expect to grow if you don’t know what formulas work for you and what don’t.
If you struggle with accountability, and need something more hardcore, check out accountability apps where you actually have to pay money if you don’t complete your tasks. Hey, some people swear by this method.
7. Outsource Immediate Needs
I can’t emphasize enough how outsourcing can be a major game changer with making balance so much more accessible.
This isn’t your father’s outsourcing of the 90’s. As with so many elements of our lives, technology has gifted us with some pretty cool life hacks and time-saving services.
Often, it’s the little routine tasks that can bog down your business game. Chores such as ironing your shirts and dashing to the store for ink cartridges can be easily taken care of with a tap of a button. Avoid traffic, gain 20 minutes of your time back, and save your brainpower for the truly essential stuff.
With the power of apps and the internet, you can…
Work-Life Balance is for Everyone
Contrary to the belief that only the most successful and wealthiest entrepreneurs have any semblance of a balanced life, I say that every person deserves to feel wholly fulfilled in their career and relationships.
From the single moms and dads, to busy parents, to the youngest up and comers, feeling secure in the commitments you’ve made is priceless. One of the only ways to get there is to make certain you are dedicating energy – in a realistic and sustainable manner – to meaningful areas of your life: your family, your loved ones, your business, and your own self-improvement.
But balance isn’t about luck.
No one wakes up one day and suddenly finds themselves able to seamlessly manage work, life, and love.
Instead, those people wake up every day and decide to get on the metaphorical bicycle again: pedal strong and hard, gear up, gear down, and finally coast.
And then enjoy the view that comes from the true freedom of balance.