The opening stanza of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” speaks volumes:
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say, I’m gonna be like you, dad
You know I’m gonna be like you
Those of you familiar with the song know the son indeed grew up to be just like his dad—clueless about balancing business success with personal well-being. So many people go into entrepreneurship lured by the siren song of complete autonomy, only to learn they work for the business, rather than vice versa.
“The hope was that as the company got bigger and I took on more staff I could step back and have a better work-life balance,” said Hannah Cook, owner of Mendip Accounting Solutions, in an interview with The Guardian. “(But) the responsibility never goes. When you’re responsible for 13 people’s wages, their livelihoods, you can never step away.”
If this is true for you and you want to reclaim your life while maintaining the level of success you need to live comfortably, consider the following tips.
- Establish Well-Defined Boundaries
With the rise of mobile computing we can always be at work—wherever we are. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to establish boundaries between our business and personal lives. Set a time at which the phone will be shut down to business calls each day. Avoid letting your peers coerce you into violating your boundaries. Time with family and friends is just as important as time spent at work. In fact, work time should be all about supporting your leisure time. It’s time to reevaluate your situation if it isn’t that way for you.
- Get Clear on What Balance Means for You
Whether you own a company or work for a company, you must have a firm idea of what balance means if you’re going to maintain it. When you’re interviewing for a job, ask about the nature of the culture of the company. Are you expected to be on call 24/7/365? Does the job require you to work through weekends? Do your values align with those of the company in that regard? If no, you should seek a different situation. If it’s your company, see number one above.
- Separate Business & Personal Finances
If you own a business and your personal finances are intermingled with those of your business, it becomes very difficult to unplug because your livelihood depends upon the success of the business. You can boost your mental well-being and confidence while protecting your personal finances by creating boundaries in this department, too. If you haven’t already, get general liability insurance quotes for your business so you can take time off of work without worrying about impending disaster—and your personal insurance won’t cut it here. Your business and personal credit cards and bank accounts should also remain apart. Keeping your business and personal issues separated in this manner makes it easier to focus on them individually and achieve peace of mind.
- Be Where You Are
When you’re at work, it’s time to work. When you’re at home with your family, it’s time to be home with your family. Function in the now; resist allowing your mind to run over work duties when you’re spending time with your loved ones. Some people say they work hard and they play hard, which is fine—if they remember to do both in equal measure.
We work to live—we do not live to work. Incorporating these four tips for balancing your business success with your personal wellbeing will help you live a life rich in both quality and finances.