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Yin and Yang

The secrets behind achieving a balance between work and home

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Q: My business is just starting, and I feel I need to work all the time or it will fail. How can I regain some semblance of balance in my life?

A: Good question, and a pretty common feeling for people starting their own business. Even though you may feel your business is your "be-all-and-end-all" right now, it's important to remember that life is made up of more pieces than that. Forgetting this sets the stage for burnout and health problems down the road.

If you feel your life is unbalanced, then it probably is. The key is to recognize which pieces of your life are bigger than they need to be, and which pieces are smaller than they need to be.

Imagine your life as a pie chart, cut into eight equal pieces--this is what a balanced life should look and feel like. The eight slices represent each of the following aspects of your life:

  1. Job or business

  2. Family: Do you spend enough time with them for there to be few feelings of guilt or deprivation for most of the people involved?

  3. Friends: Do you have any who are not involved with your business?

  4. Leisure: Do you take time to do your hobbies and things that are personally fun for you? (And no, work doesn't count!)

  5. Health (physical): Do you exercise regularly? Eat healthy meals?

  6. Personal growth: When was the last time you really learned a new skill that wasn't linked with your business?

  7. Education: Are you reading industry magazines? Have you joined a local association for networking? Do you go out to lunch with fellow entrepreneurs to learn from one another?

  8. Spirituality: Do you take time to connect to your Higher Power (however you define that)? It may mean organized worship or a stroll around a local park, but take the time to connect.

Feeling that your current life is a bit out of whack means it's time to look at your own life pie chart and see what needs to be changed. Working 10 to 12 hours a day doesn't leave a lot of time for those other parts of the pie. Every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else.

So what is it that you tend to say no to in order to work so many hours in your business? Figuring out which areas you're short-changing will help you re-balance your life again.

Taking the time to reflect on what's important to you--and the reasons you started your business--will help you refocus your priorities. You're more than your business. Our lives are made up of so much more than we realize sometimes, and it's not until something is out of balance that it's actually brought to our attention. Ignoring this can lead to dissatisfaction with life, along with possible physical and mental health problems.

Sometimes we just need to step back and remember to take a look at the whole pie. That's all.

Elizabeth Inskip-Paulk has been writing and working in the field of stress management and other health-related fields for more than seven years, gaining experience in both the private and public sectors. In addition to her full-time job as a writer for a university, she is a freelance writer in her spare time. She also has a zillion hobbies, is happily married and has five pets, all of which she enjoys but which require engaging in a careful "plate-juggling" act at times.