What Marriage Has Taught Me About Work-Life Balance
I have always had the hustle mentality. In my part of the world, it is a prerequisite for survival. Things are so tough that people work three jobs plus run a business just to take care of their family.
The hustle robbed many of us of vital relationships and the value these relationships bring. Jas Mathur, the renowned fitness trainer and CEO of Limitless, described his former self as an “extremist hustler.” He credits this same hustle mindset for helping him become the successful CEO and business owner he is today, but in his words, “It worked for me, till it didn’t.”
It often takes a single event for a person to wake up to reality. For Jas, it was repeating the same routine of work-eat-sleep-work until, weighing well over 400 pounds, he fell ill. Then he finally turned his life around and became the inspiration and fitness coach that he is.
Getting married set me on that path, a path I intend to stay on. This is what I have learned so far and how I came about those lessons.
1. Tweak your principles.
You are always excited about seeing your partner when you are dating. You enjoy every moment you spend together. My case wasn’t different, but nothing quite prepared me for when she was always present, which is the reality marriage presented me with. I love my wife to bits, but I just wasn’t ready.
I do my freelance writing from the comfort of my home when I am not out running my other businesses. I always enjoyed going out to see my then-fiancée -- as long as I could go back home and face my laptop screen. I had two work principles I never broke -- I worked late into the night because I was a self-proclaimed "night person" and I rarely ever answered calls while working at home.
Getting married placed "wife-time" at cross purposes with "work time" because my usual work time is when she gets back from work and needs my attention. Also, being married it really didn’t matter that I didn’t answer calls -- my primary caller is now living with me. My wife has a principle to not bring her work back home, but I work from home! See how volatile the situation can be?
My inflexible principles were a large part of my success but I was now faced with a real choice -- estrange my new wife or further my business. Tough choice! I discovered the third option -- tweak my principles!
What we call "principles" are often just habits we have perfected. Our internal systems had agreed with them. No one is genetically a night person or a day person. It’s our programming and circumstances that make us so. I began to notice pockets of time I wasted during the days because I claimed it wasn’t my "peak moment."
Slowly I reprogrammed myself. Now I work during the day. My peak writing hours are from 9 am till 2 pm, and I answer my wife’s calls when I am working. My family will always be primary in my life because if I don’t have her, I don’t really need the money that much, do I?
2. People are priceless.
I am not a natural optimist. My natural first reaction is to believe the worst. I am also a genuine introvert -- I can spend days indoors with no qualms whatsoever. My wife, on the other hand, is a very optimistic extrovert and a socialite. She wants to attend certain functions to honor a relationship we have, whereas I couldn’t care less about it.
The sheer number of events I had to attend with her and the amount of time I spent outdoors leading up to our wedding had me swooning. I had work to do! However, one of those reluctant trips to visit someone landed us a new and better house to live in. Now I work from home in far more comfort than if my excuses had kept us from that one visit.
Entrepreneurs often brag about the amount of time they spend working, as if it is directly proportional to how blessed they are. In reality, your relationships enrich you far more. Every entrepreneur must learn the art of servicing relationships, whether business or otherwise, with the occasional phone call, visit or thoughtful text message. Taking your mind away from work more often to manage relationships that matter is a really great idea! Besides, a large percentage of business comes from referrals from friends and family, but you have to work at keeping yourself actively on the minds of those who matter to you.
3. Your weaknesses are your stressors.
People have called me a workaholic -- and they were right. My tendency is to do it all myself, and since I had time on my hands as a single man, I often did just that -- whether I was good at it or not. Since getting married I have far less time to work with, which has suddenly made me aware of the things I wasn’t so good at. People had told me about this before but marriage made me listen.
For instance, I wasn’t great at writing tech articles, so I started employing other writers. Why spend eight hours struggling to write a tech article when I can spend one hour writing something I am comfortable with? I had been stressing myself so much as a single person. Marriage finally convinced me to pay people to do what I couldn’t. I am investing in resources that make my job easier.
Entrepreneurs are often reluctant to make such investments because it takes liquid cash away from them. What they don't realize is that what is debited in such investments is credited to your health. Guess what? Business does far better when you learn to delegate and focus on what you are darn good at. The results of this shift are evident in all my businesses today.
In the words of Jas Mathur, “To gain balance, you need to be honest with yourself about who you are, what your flaws are, and how you can become a better you. Then you need to find a way to try and press these flaws out until you’re left with a better version of you.”
Quit doing what you suck at and pay people to do it. Your freedom from such stressing activities will open your mind up to opportunities you have been missing. Don't overlook new ways to improve your business because you are nose deep in something you have no business doing.
There you have it! I hope this helps someone.