Every entrepreneur values freedom. In fact, if you're like most, it's one of the most important things in the world to you. Yet, like many business owners, you may be stuck in a never-ending struggle to find it.
One significant aspect of freedom (after the money it takes to achieve it) is work-life balance. But, like the ever-elusive rainbow, impossible to touch, such balance often eludes the hard-working entrepreneur. This leads to disappointment, frustration, and guilt as they struggle to make more time to do the things they enjoy, more time with the people they love. In addition, they seek more time to take care of themselves, and more time to feel like themselves again.
More time. That's the problem. More time is not something that magically appears overnight. But balance is not defined by an equal distribution of your time. The quality of your time with friends, family, and on your own is what's most important. And oddly enough, by improving the quality of your personal time, the likelihood of increasing your time away from work is strong.
Are you mentally present when you are with friends and family? Can you focus your mind on relaxation? As my fellow Inc.com author, Rhett Power, points out, "Studies show that people who do not know how to detach from work during their off-time experience increased exhaustion over the course of one year and are less resilient in the face of stressful work conditions."
Quality over quantity.
Simply focusing on quality, rather than quantity of time will reduce your stress, thereby increasing productivity, clarity, and overall effectiveness.
Two years ago, one of my clients confessed to me that she hated Christmas with her husband and young children; this was a very emotional topic for her. Since her husband was the full-time parent and ran the household while she built her thriving business, she felt like an outsider at home. This needed to change, so we created a top-priority goal: She and her family would have the best Christmas they've ever had. We had four months to work up to making this dream come true.
My client's goal and dream of a wonderful Christmas wasn't about more presents, it was about more presence. Over the next four months, she would learn to turn off her cell phone, put away her computer, and focus only on her children and husband when she was with them. In other words, to be present in the moment. This is where the magic happened. The family relationship flourished and by the time Christmas rolled around, her children embraced her presence because they felt it. She was there for them on Christmas and every day, both physically and mentally--and it did not take more time to achieve this, only quality time.
Begin with what time you have.
That's the trick to developing work-life balance. Like exercising on a regular basis, the benefits are cumulative. Refrain from checking messages, don't take phone calls, and most of all, stop dwelling on things you cannot change or attend to in the moment. If you are completely honest with yourself, there are few things that can't wait. Your business will not crumble if you take your mind off of it for a while.
As your satisfaction with life improves you will recognize the powerful impact it has on your performance at work. I've seen businesses begin to flourish just because of this one, relatively simple shift in the entrepreneur's mindset.
That brings us back to freedom. The revenue, and profits, you bring to your company are likely to increase once you feel more balanced. These increased financial resources will feed one of your most critical values: Freedom. Yes, it is possible.