Work/life balance: we all want it, and know we’re nowhere near having it. What if we’re focusing way too hard on our businesses and miss all the good stuff? Typically, our answer is “well, then pull back from the business” — but what if that’s not something you can do right now? What if you don’t know how? There has to be another way to achieve this ‘balance’ we all crave.
Balance Isn’t Fair
Here’s the first contrary item we’re going to discuss. What if balance isn’t balanced? Sometimes an aspect of your life has to be 70-30. Sometimes it might have to be all-in on one aspect while another goes neglected. And that’s okay!
If you still want to think in terms of balance, think of it in an over-arching way. Today you’re spending 90% of your time on your business, but you’re planning for a time when it’s no more than 50% and you’ve increased family time to 40%. Planning for your future by sacrificing now will allow you to achieve this so-called balance by the time you retire.
However, assuming you don’t mind switching your mindset, think about how to make more of the time you have by focusing on the things that best fulfill your needs. It’s likely you need your business to operate with you at the helm right now. If that’s the case, you may need to focus more of your time and attention there. So how can you balance it all out? I recently talked to Mike Rynchek and he said, “it’s not about balance; it’s about integration” and I thought that was so neat. Basically, he’s saying that integrating the areas of your life so they fit better together will make all the difference.
Rather than trying to achieve balance, we should look for synergy (integration) in our lives. Yes, if you can make it as simple as putting a treadmill in your office and doing some light jogging while on a conference call or doing one work-at-home day a week to cut down on your travel time and increase your family time, then good for you! Most of us will not have it so easy.
Those things are all great ways to rebalance or refocus your life on a weekly basis; however, getting your wellness back under control and improving your quality of life requires a larger view at what’s going on in your world. Now’s the time to take a bird’s eye view of things and maybe even start keeping a log of the things you’re doing that bring you joy versus the things you’re doing that you dislike. (If one of those is work, you need to check out some stuff on exit planning — now.)
What do you love to do that you aren’t doing enough of? What of your tasks and duties (daily) are you no longer enjoying, and which do you truly detest and dread doing? Are you hearing complaints from family and friends that you’re not spending enough time with them? Maybe you’ve let your health slide a bit and you’re noticing some serious and negative issues.
Once you’ve had the chance to digest the information you’ve gained from asking yourself honest questions such as those above, you’ll have some clear ideas on how to proceed to rectify these situations… and how those situations’ resolution will have impacts on your business, as well as your personal life.
One thing I’m really big on is planning. Most of us are guilty of that when it comes to future planning for the business. But, if there’s one thing this blog advocates, it is planning. Exit planning. Business planning. Life planning. Planning can be tedious and frustrating, but it is absolutely necessary.
So, on the tails of thinking about the ways in which you can modify your life to have better integration (or balance if you really want to keep talking about it like that), comes evaluating your choices. Since nothing happens without some form of consequence — particularly in the legalese of the business world — you really need to consider your options before you make any unilateral moves.
If you want to spend more time at home, are you confident someone on staff can field critical inquiries and resolve sudden issues? Sure, you can be reached by phone; but what if something happens that needs resolution on the spot? If you don’t have someone ready, you need to look at your succession planning and consider your current staffing levels. Making yourself obsolete (or a passive owner) really adds value to your business and makes it easier for you to transition out of it. However, this approach will require time to find, train and gain confidence in your Mini You, and this time is going to be drawn from already strained wells such as family, exercise or sleep.
But there is so much involved in doing succession planning. It’s an easy answer, but the follow-through is tedious and will take time. This is the same for any solution you may have found to your other integration/balance issues: are you willing to give up what you need to give up to make sure you’re achieving your goals? For example, if you really want a legacy for your company but sell to a PE firm that ends up re-selling and re-branding it, are you going to be okay with that? Again, this is something you need to plan for so you’re not caught by surprise if you get an unsolicited offer or if the right type of buyer arrives at the right moment for you to sell.
Always, as entrepreneurs, we have to remind ourselves to take a break and find balance. Funny how we can use our planning skills to help us even here! So take the opportunity to really evaluate what you hold important in your life and decide where and what you’re willing to compromise on to get it.