It's important to fit 4 simple F-word reminders into your day: family, friends, fitness and food. Entrepreneurs tend to focus on succeeding professionally to the exclusion of personal priorities which are crucial by any definition of success.
The good news: you don't have to completely overhaul your life to make improvements. Small, manageable steps can make a big difference in each of these categories for a healthier work-life balance. Another bonus: there's an inherent efficiency in the 4 F's. When you focus on one area, other areas tend to benefit as well, as you'll see in the examples below.
Family. Work is compelling, but it can become so all-encompassing you do not spend much time with the people you love most. List out your priorities; chances are your family is at the top. Next, look at how you actually spend your day. Consider how you can make certain shifts in your schedule that would allow you to better align your priorities with your actions. Maybe it's eating one meal together several times a week, sans all electronic devices. Structure your day to make it a non-negotiable. Even if you have to work at home after the kids are in bed, you have spent important time together which studies show provides multiple benefits to kids.
Friends. Strong connections with friends are invaluable for the support, connection and fun they provide. While time with friends is one of the first things sacrificed when schedules get crazy, it's worth the effort. You might be surprised to find ways to incorporate time with friends into your already hectic schedule, from lunches together once a month to a weekly 10-minute phone call or even a running text conversation. Combine friends with another important F-- fitness-- to give yourself quality time together while pursuing a common goal of maintaining or improving health. A regular walking date or gym meet-up can accomplish two beneficial tasks in one step.
Fitness. All the money in the world doesn't matter much if you don't have your health. It's easier to maintain it than to try to get it back after it's gone, so devote time to exercise and reap the physical and mental benefits. It's essential for fighting stress, boosting your immune system and preventing disease, so don't put off exercise for a later date. If hitting the gym five days a week sounds like an impossible task, find a way to incorporate fitness into your daily routine. Find 20 minutes a day you can jump rope, do push-ups, crunches, dance or even stretch. Work out with a buddy and check off two F's at the same time (fitness and friends) or go for a walk with your kids after dinner (fitness and family). Plan a family bike ride or hike one weekend a month. Set small, do-able goals and track your progress.
Food. If most of your food comes from a box or is served through a window, make a commitment to improve your choices. The saying "you are what you eat" has never been truer. Heart disease and cancer, the two biggest killers in the United States, are greatly impacted by the food you consume. There's no better time to make some changes than right now. There's a wonderful efficiency built in: when you eat better food, you are modeling healthy habits for your family and friends. You are also improving your overall health by giving your body the fuel it needs for optimum performance and fighting disease.
One simple improvement is to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Look for ways to sneak them in, such as a frozen fruit and banana smoothie you make in the morning to a hearty salad at lunch. Travel poses extra challenges for eating healthy, but look carefully and you can usually find healthy options. Avoid getting so hungry that you succumb to the vending machine or nearest fast-food restaurant. Keep a bag of nuts and dried fruit in your briefcase so when hunger strikes you're ready with real food that helps build your body up instead of tearing it down.
If you think you don't possibly have time to devote to these parts of your life, consider the benefits to your business. Focusing on these four areas will help you be a happier, healthier and more dynamic leader, and that can only be good for your company.