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ACHIEVING SCALE

6 Signs You're Sacrificing Too Much for Success

Business is going well, you're making all the money you need, and yet... you're not happy. If any of these signs sound familiar, you might be sacrificing too much for success.

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As a founder, your job is never done. It comes with the territory of starting a business that you'll need to sacrifice a little blood, sweat, tears (money, time--the list could go on) to achieve success.

But at a certain point, if all you're doing is making sacrifices, perhaps you're paying too high a cost for that success. 

Check out the list below. Do any of these signs sound familiar? Maybe it's time to rethink your priorities:

1. You sacrifice your family time for work.

I've lived this one. Using the excuse that you need to feed your family might seem acceptable at an early stage, but it's still an excuse. Take a serious look at your overall time investment. Don't count the hours you are in the office. Count the hours you answer emails on your phone, the time you drive to work, the time you spend thinking about work, and the time you have left for everything else.

2. Your work and leisure time always intersect.

Here's one that is hard for me as well, mostly because my job can be fun at times. Playing around with a new app on the iPad doesn't seem like work. No matter which field you're in, it's best to figure out where the delineation lies between actual work and actual relaxation. Sometimes, you have to be intentional about this: take up tennis as a recreational sport because it has nothing to do with your cooking business. While work is changing and some entrepreneurs have to work extremely long hours to kickstart a company, having no margins means you are not working that smart anyway.

3. You can't take time off.

I've been reading the book "The Everything Store" about how Jeff Bezos became such a celebrity entrepreneur. In his early days, he had a cot in his office in case he needed to sleep at work. (I bet he has better margins in his life now.) If that's you, think long and hard about whether it makes sense. Maybe in an early-stage startup it seems reasonable. But the truth is that your inability to take time off from work is a sign that you have poor boundaries. Someone is paying for that extremism.

4. You're constantly living in stress and anxiety.

There's scientific proof for this one. Constant stress is chipping years off your life, and it's not worth the strain. By thinking about work from sun-up to sundown, you are fixating your brain on one thing. Extremism at work is a way to control the work, but it usually backfires. In most cases, business needs time to grow and evolve. If it's 9 p.m. at night and you are thinking about a sales meeting the next morning, then you don't have good margins. If raking in the cash means a shorter life, live on less.

5. Your gadgets are always on.

I seem to always have an iPhone at the ready, which is easy to justify. But letting the plastic gizmos die once in a while is a good thing. When your phone or tablet is not available to you, it forces you to look outside once in a while, to have a conversation with someone, to think about something besides work. In science jargon, this is called sensory dynamism. When you stare at the iPhone, you are only experiencing a few planes of reality. When you look outside, you are seeing millions. Your brain needs a reprise from the gadgets, and overuse is not advised.

6. You have no friends.

If the only relationships you have are at work, you might have a problem. Workaholics have plenty of income and no social life. In some cases, that's okay for a while. But take a long look at whether you are actively developing friendships outside of work. True friends will tell you when you are working too much; business colleagues will just encourage you to work more because they reap the rewards. You might end up with a big successful company, but life is about more than just financial success.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Dec 13, 2013

JOHN BRANDON is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.
@jmbrandonbb




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