In a hectic world where constant demands come from every direction, it can be hard to feel calm and grounded. As new business owners, it is easy to let work creep into every aspect of life and every minute of each day. Owners take on the most risk and most responsibility for the company’s operations and are key in either the success or failure of the business. While there are many factors outside of an owner’s control (market conditions, work available, interest rates, cost of material, skilled labour shortages, human error, etc), that doesn’t change their responsibility for keeping the ship afloat and on the planned course (company objectives and goals).
Being a husband and wife team – partners in both business and in life, can make it hard to take breaks from the company. Evenings are often spent discussing solutions to issues or creating strategies that there isn’t time to address during daily operations. Weekends might involve spending time quoting projects and emergencies can come at all hours. Ownership life is fast-paced, ever changing, and always full of surprises. For a while, work did take up the majority of our time, but that is not a sustainable way to live, or to be successful or happy with life. Read more about successful people and balance here.
Finding balance is a deceptive term – balance is not found, it is planned and practiced. In order to have a feeling of general well-being, reduce stress, and be most successful and happy in life, creating balance is essential.
Areas to create balance in life:
- Mind: are you challenging yourself intellectually vs are you giving your mind opportunities to rest? (it’s interesting to note that creativity often comes from boredom and allowing the mind to wander). People need to take mental breaks at work – so go ahead and watch those cat videos for a few minutes or go for a walk around the block. You’ll be more productive with little breaks throughout the day.
- Relationships: are you making time to see friends, family, loved ones, pets? Are you making personal time for yourself to recharge and enjoy time alone? Sometimes talking to a friend can really boost your mood, and other days, Netflix on the couch is the best medicine.
- family responsibilities vs healthy boundaries: many people are care-givers to children or family members – there can be a lot of pressure to be constantly on-call and available to help with anything, but care-giver burn-out is a real thing if you don’t set boundaries and give yourself personal time to recharge.
- Home and Life: setting money aside to pay your bills but also treating yourself to things you want, within your means. Maybe this is your daily Starbucks or a vacation you saved for. Keeping your home clean, tidy, and in good repair but also knowing that you can’t do it all and allowing your home to be lived in.
- Health: are you eating balanced meals through the day? Are you allowing yourself to enjoy some treats? Are you being physically active enough but also allowing your body time to rest and recharge? Are you getting enough sleep?
- Work: are you able to push yourself in your goals and rise to challenges, but also able to set work aside to enjoy life and have hobbies and personal interests?
Stress and discourse is created when you swing too much to either side of these categories. For example, winter holidays is often a time of over-indulgence with food and/or alcohol. It’s a time that usually involves more social engagements, parties, and late nights. For a short period of time, this can be a lot of fun. If this was what the whole year looked like, people would be burned out and likely lethargic from all of the rich foods. The same goes for being a successful business owner. While it’s easy to spend all day and then all evening and weekend working, not allowing time for balance in other areas of life can quickly lead to burnout, irritability, and stress – all of which will creep into work and make people less effective at their jobs. This is why taking vacation time is encouraged.
Balance for us includes setting aside time after work to discuss issues we couldn’t get to during the day – usually while we are enjoying the outdoors and walking our dogs. This helps us get some physical activity and can also be used as a time-limit to continue dealing with work for the evening. Taking time to plan our weekly meals, buying groceries, and cooking on Sundays allows us to have healthful meals all week long and reduces the stress of trying to plan what to eat each night. Going to the gym regularly through the week helps reduce stress, improve mental focus, build muscle and endurance (plus helps offset all the sitting one does in an office), and is a great social activity. We usually see family or friends at least once a week so that we can enjoy the company of people with different lives than us and hear other perspectives, share stories, and laugh.
Remember, achieving balance is planned and practiced – it takes time, thought, and effort to ensure that each side’s needs are being met, so don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not there yet.