Work-Life Balance is Possible — And It's Not as Hard to Achieve as You Think When you prioritize your work-life balance, you're really prioritizing yourself and your business. Even if it seems like a pipe dream, achieving the balance between your work and your personal life is truly possible if you treat it as a goal, not a wish.
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If you're an entrepreneur, you might see a headline like this and immediately think, "Good joke." But I promise this isn't one. I've been a business owner for more than two decades and have learned through much trial and error that the seemingly mythical concept of work-life balance is within closer reach than you might think. Here's how I recommend striking such a balance in your own life.
1. Build your emotional capital
Emotional capital is all the skills and abilities that allow you to understand your own emotions and recognize them in others, and function with other people in a sensitive and rewarding manner. It was no mistake that building emotional capital was the first of six steps that my co-founder and I outlined in our book "Conquer the Chaos" to help entrepreneurs get out of the chaos of running their businesses. All too often, though, business owners try to suppress or ignore their mental and emotional states. But just as often, this backfires.
Think of building your emotional capital like you would actual capital for your business. You can't just will it into existence; you have to plan and execute the plan. There are many ways to do this, and most of us will need to invest in several to reap the benefits. Some examples include hiring a business coach, starting a meditation practice (this doesn't have to be fancy; just browse YouTube for "guided meditations"), seeing a therapist, working through a conflict with your spouse, and practicing gratitude and self-reflection. The point is to actually plan how you will build your emotional capital and put accountability measures in place to see it through.
2. Practice small habits for your health
What is nearly every entrepreneur's biggest complaint? Lack of time. So when I suggest you start adding more things into your day (like I just did above) and then tell you that you also need to prioritize your health, you're likely thinking I've never run a business. But I have, for many, many years - which is why I'm qualified to insist that you will run yourself and your business into the ground if you do not put these two priorities first on your list.
The good news is that improving your health doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. You can commit to walking the dog three times a week, and even that will improve your health. Add an apple to your lunch, and you'll get extra nutrients. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Work, even part of the day, at a stand-up desk. How much time do any of these suggestions really take? Not much, if any at all. They just require making new small habits that, over time, reap the rewards for your physical health.
3. Be present
Once you're emotionally and physically in a better place, we can now discuss relationships. Other books and experts may tell you differently, but I believe that presence is one of the keys to every strong marriage, parent/child bond, friendship, coworking relationship, etc. If you give someone your attention, you communicate that they matter.
This is why I have learned to leave my cell phone in my car from 6 to 9 p.m. every night. Simply putting it away or telling myself I won't check it doesn't work; I have to physically remove it from my location to ensure I won't become distracted by it. When I do this, I devote my full attention (which includes eye contact and active listening) to my wife and kids. When I don't, I'm only halfway in.
The same is true at work. Build mechanisms into your day to ensure you are fully present wherever you are. Being "all there" at home gives you the freedom to be "all there" at work, and vice versa, because you can be confident you're not shortchanging anyone.
4. Automate & Delegate
I love entrepreneurs and their hard work and grit. But one thing that frustrates me endlessly is their stubbornness. I write this with love because I've been there too. You crave control and think you need to handle everything in your business, or it won't get done properly. Or, even if you're among the few skilled at delegation, maybe you don't have the budget to hire help.
My advice? Invest in technology. There are so many cost-effective solutions out there that can take numerous tasks off your plate. By automating pieces of your sales and marketing, for example, you're gaining time to spend elsewhere (whether in a different area of the business, with your loved ones or in a hobby you've neglected since starting your business). Also, if you can hire someone or even work with a contractor, do it! Removing some responsibilities- and gaining time - are two of the biggest secrets to a healthy work-life balance.
5. Plan ahead
Finally, none of this works if you don't plan ahead. Write down exactly how you intend to tackle each of these areas. Make your intentions small, practical and impactful, and either use technology, visual reminders or the help of a friend to ensure you remain accountable.
When you prioritize your work-life balance, you're really prioritizing yourself and your business. Even if it seems like a pipe dream, achieving the balance between your work and your personal life is truly possible if you treat it as a goal, not a wish.