Entrepreneurs are notorious for lacking balance in their lives. The initial volume of work one must accomplish in the process of building something can feel overwhelming and steal much of one’s time and energy. At least while developing, many find themselves engaged in seventy to eighty hour workweeks, working weekends and sacrificing time with family and friends. Due to job demands and responsibilities, they find their lives become imbalanced (There is always something that the entrepreneur in practice could or should be doing).
I have found that imbalance can lead to depression and burnout. Both states can be extremely difficult to work through or can cause some to surrender their pursuit and investment of time, energy and money.
Many entrepreneurs’ families struggle with this feeling of imbalance, as the new pursuit may demand priority over other aspects of life.
The thing driving most entrepreneurs forward, in spite of the inherent difficulties, is passion for the subject matter. Passion can alter the feeling of “work”, to be experienced as play and can enable one to potentially weather the storm of loosing money in the early development of the business.
But how do we find balance?
Each individual is, of course, unique and each person in their process of seeking balance, will choose techniques they feel work for them.
The beginning years of building a business are often the hardest. I like to compare the process of starting a business to putting a boulder into motion (once it is in motion, ideally, there is some momentum to help carry it forward).
True balance in one’s life is something many people (entrepreneur or not) struggle to find. Sometimes, we must settle for a sense of balance. To find a sense of balance, we must tend to our common human needs. For most, this includes dedicating time towards work, social life, spiritual expression or insight, family, and personal time.
Often, I speak about the need for discipline—like that of a marathon runner. I urge you to weave some of these steps into your own discipline or process.
1. Thoroughly schedule your time and, as best you can, stick to your schedule. How much time can you dedicate to family? As mechanical as this sounds, it can be a great tool to make sure you are actively giving your family or lover time. Then follow through.
2. Give yourself personal time. There are only so many hours in a day and we only have so much gas in our tanks. We all need time for ourselves now and then. If you find yourself longing for such time, schedule it in and if you absolutely need it, try to not let anything interfere.
3. Create a space dedicated to stillness. Having a room dedicated is a luxury many cannot afford. You can have something as simple as a particular chair to sit in. Rest and silence are the goals. You needn’t sit for a long period of time. Fifteen minutes can help.
4. Establish boundaries with individuals who might try to monopolize your time. Be assertive regarding boundaries.
5. Let go of the vampires in your life. Be mindful of who is poisonous. Do you have friends who sabotage your interests, do not support you or drag your energy down? Get rid of those relationships and nurture those that are positive.
6. Delegate. Few do quality work when they carry the entire weight of a business on their shoulders. Do too many things simultaneously and all of your efforts can slip to mediocrity. Learn to ask for help and to trust when sharing responsibility.
7. Work efficiently. Try operating via the least effort principle—expend only the amount of energy necessary to get the job done. In doing so, you will have more energy to put towards other areas and can curb exhaustion.
8. Have reasonable goals that you believe are achievable and can be done in the time you give yourself. Accomplishing goals builds confidence.
9. Know when to stop. Tomorrow is another day. Cultivate the ability to set things down. When one is passionately engaged with a conflict, it is easy to perpetually ruminate on the problem. Sometimes thinking too much only adds gas to the flames. By letting your mind rest, your subconscious has the opportunity to do some computing.
10. Take time to celebrate. Personal recognition of accomplishment is important. It will keep your spirit up.
11. When you are with your family (or friends) be with them and allow the thoughts of work to subside.
12. Engage in activity that gives you a sense of play, carefree-ness and joy– every week.
13. Eat, Sleep, and Move. We all know that eating well, getting sleep and exercise help us stay fit; improve our mood, keep up our health and energy.
14. Know your audience or whom you serve. Find your manner of service. You don’t have to be working in an orphanage to be serving others—nor does your audience have to be big. There are all levels and sizes of contribution and service. Finding your method will enable you to see past some of the difficulties you encounter, as you will be “fighting the good fight”.
15. Synthesize your interests. If you are engaging in a process that utilizes many of your talents, interests and abilities, you will feel a greater feeling of wholeness.