For Sanity's Sake!

All work and no play makes you a dull entrepreneur, so find a healthy balance between your life and your business.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the April 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The startup phase can be the craziest, most harried time in the evolution of your business. But you don't have to say goodbye to your health and sanity. "You actually can bridge business and into having the full and rich life you want," explains Jeff Burrows, co-author of Myth to Reality: The Spirit of the Entrepreneurial Adventure (Bridgewood Press).

"Create your primary aim; understand your primary essence," Burrows adds. "Ask yourself: What are the things you don't want to be doing? What are the things you like? Dislike? [That's] how to really get in touch with who you are and what your purpose is." Delving into the particulars of what you want your life to be while structuring your business strategies is a necessary step toward creating balance.

The key, though, isn't to segment your day into "me time" and "business time" says Kenny Moore, co-author of The CEO and the Monk: One Company's Journey to Profit and Purpose (John Wiley & Sons). "I think people approach it as an either/or situation," he explains. "I can live a life that's integrated-I can do work stuff at home and personal stuff at work. Especially for entrepreneurs and creative people, inspiration and connectedness surface at the most [unlikely] moments-while listening to a concert, for instance. That's when people make bizarre connections about market niches-when they weren't thinking about business at all."

That kind of flexibility will help you balance your personal needs with those of your business. You should also set aside some time to breathe and take part in the things you enjoy-such as attending pottery or floral arrangement classes, hiking or attending an arts or car show-anything to recharge your batteries and keep your creative juices flowing. "A leader needs to take care that he's not draining himself," says Moore, "[or] you end up offering your tiredness and your bitterness [to your business]-nothing nurturing."

Michael Wohl's personal reflection time actually helped inspire his business. He started a line of instructional DVDs suitable for anyone, from the most inflexible beginner to the advanced yoga practitioner. He had owned a candle business years before, but says, "Not being mindful of myself or my body or my health, I ended up rupturing a disc from working so hard and all the stress."

Sure not to repeat that mistake with his second endeavor, Wohl founded Bodywisdom Media Inc. in 2000. His yoga DVD production company now has sales in the seven figures. Wohl, 37, says he made a conscious effort to maintain his spiritual balance during the startup phase of his Bethesda, Maryland, company by doing yoga and .

"When you're in the middle of being stressed, it helps you remain centered and get some distance from what you're doing to remind you of what is important," Wohl explains. Although he confesses it's still a challenge, maintaining his center is important to Wohl's life-and business-success.

Take a deep breath, and use these tips to focus on yourself.
  • Get a clear picture in your head of what you really want from both your personal life and your business.
  • Have somebody, such as a coach or a mentor, help you achieve balance-don't go it alone.
  • Consistently check to see if you're on track.
  • Align other people with your vision of balance in your company-especially your employees.
  • Be sure to recharge by engaging in creative or fun activities.
  • Whether it's a class, a sport or a Broadway show, pick something that engages your mind and body in something outside of your business.

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