Sometimes it feels like we’re forced to ask ourselves this question: “Which is more important? Having a family (or friends/social life) or having money/things/career?” But how do you choose? What do you do if you feel like you have no choice? What do you do if your business or career is like a run-away freight train and you feel like you’ve already left your family or life behind?
For many, the work-life balance scale has tipped in favor of work, creating an unsustainable “live to work” paradigm. This imbalance hangs particularly heavily on the shoulders of self-employed workers (entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, at home parents, telecommuters, etc) because the self-employed tend to:
- Blend the work and personal spheres
- Have more responsibility
Balance is difficult. It’s a constant pushing and pulling of demands, needs, obligations, desires and distractions. So where do we begin? First, by redefining balance.
Forget the balancing act.
First, recognize that there is no secret formula to balance. Work ebbs and flows. There are busy times and slow times. Life also has some times that require more attention than others. Plus, we each live completely different realities of life and business. And, we each have different values and priorities. The equation will be different for each of us.
Second, banish the notion that work-life balance implies that the two can and should be equivalent. Striving for 50-50 balance will not necessarily result in you having the life you really want. It will not necessarily protect what is most important to you. It will not necessarily deliver the results you really want.
Balance ≠ Equal
Work is not the enemy! Balance is a personal decision. Entrepreneur example:
“Personally, I’m not happy if I’m evenly dividing my time between work and other things. I really enjoy what I do, to the point that I get bored with a lot of hobbies. I focus on making sure that I’m doing well on a personal level: if I’m feeling stressed out, I’ll take a step back; if I feel like I’m not getting enough work done, I’m cool with investing more time.” –Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
There is a much better option more likely to deliver what you really want.
Balance = Design
Design life based on your core values, what is most important to you, and the results you are after.
Rather than beating yourself up for being unbalanced, decide to use working for yourself as a tool to support what you want to create, including the business, family life and lifestyle you really want.
Evaluating and Defining Balance
What are the top 5 priorities/aspects of your personal life?
What are the top 5 priorities/aspects of your work life?
How do you define “balance” for yourself? Does it feel like it relates to how much time something receives? If not, how would you know you are “balanced” within a particular area?
For each, rate them on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being completely out of balance, 10 being completely in balance.
How would you rate your balance in your personal life in general?
How would you rate your balance in your work life in general?
What about between the two?
What areas need to have more of your attention?