There are countless books and talk shows that are dedicated to the subject of work or life balance. We are told that we need to achieve this balance, otherwise our lives will be, well, unbalanced. Instead of viewing "balance" as some sort of end point, however, it’s more practical to see the dynamics of work and life as an ongoing journey.
After running my business for 9 years, here are some of the things that I've learned:
Challenge 1: If you work hard at your business, you will neglect your relationships and personal life.
Business ownership is often guilty of stealing from the "life" part of a work or life balance. I’ve seen entrepreneurs who are "All Work, No Play", but I've seen (and tried to emulate) those that bring an equal energy to all aspects of their lives. You don't have to volunteer for every carpool shift in your child's soccer league, but having open conversations with your family about how your work affects them can be helpful (and a few of those carpool shifts couldn't hurt). Remember: your family is facing all of the risks, stresses, and financial swings of your business with you. If they support your career and you’re equally encouraging of their endeavors, you’re all likely to be more satisfied.
Challenge 2: Even if you can "have it all", you're somehow burning yourself out.
Tips: Ask yourself: are you focused on tasks that will make you happy in the long run, or tiring yourself with busy work? Making a quick list of goals, both short-term and long-term, can help you to decide what is important. A long list of responsibilities is overwhelming, but you can feel more satisfaction in more areas if you’re focused on the right endeavors for you.
This question goes for relationships too, both business and personal. Cutting out relationships that are draining or dysfunctional will allow you to focus your mental energy on things that really matter. I know - drama can (and will) happen no matter what, but you’ll be more equipped to deal with it when you’re not constantly draining your energy elsewhere.
Challenge 3: A work or life balance is impossible to achieve.
Impossible, yes, without flexibility and proper time management. If the flexibility of changing hours or working from home isn't an option, it’s up to you to be ultra-organized so you can juggle it all. Managing your time well will increase your productivity when you are working, and allow you to plan the hours and days when you can leave work behind for family time or "me" time. I learned this while trying to simultaneously plan a wedding and run my business. When I neglected my schedule and priority list, it was amazing how fast deadlines flew by tasks weren’t finished. Then stress crept in. If you learn to manage yourself and your time, you’ll be better at managing your obligations and interests as well.
Balancing work and life will be an on-going challenge. Your goals and struggles are constantly changing, so your approach to juggling it all needs to be just as dynamic. Innovative thinking and vision has helped your business to succeed - let your drive and creativity positively impact your personal life as well.