As an entrepreneur I often find myself getting wrapped in a never-ending cycle of what most people would call “work.” My friends and family constantly tell me that I “work too much” or that I need to “get more sleep.” Starting your own business forces you to quickly learn that “balance” is truly an art form that takes years to master. If you don’t learn this early on, the problem you are trying to solve for the world can ironically become a newly created problem in your personal life.
Many entrepreneurs get so consumed by the problem they are trying to solve that they let their passion for their business outweigh their passion for life. Finding proper balance requires both discipline and introspection. Every entrepreneur has a unique set of priorities in their life that make up their day-to-day activities, so it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific roadmap to the balanced life. The following eight life tips have helped me personally create a roadmap for balance in my life.
1. Make time for loved ones.
Although this tip is arguably common sense, family is often the first thing entrepreneurs neglect when their schedules become chaotic. We sometimes take our loved ones for granted and make the assumption that they will always be there for us when we need them. The truth is it’s really easy to become consumed in your work and let your family life dwindle away. If you’re going to live a balanced life you need to learn to make time for the most important people in your life. Take an interest in their life and appreciate them for their love and support.
2. Make time for yourself.
As the center of your company you’re going to be taking punches from all angles on a daily basis. Leading a company full time weighs on you both mentally and physically; so it’s important to make time for yourself to unwind. For me this “me time” is essential to my problem solving ability. I find that when I meditate and focus in complete silence I clear my mind and discover great ideas. Make time for yourself or you’ll quickly burn out.
Fun times at a Techcrunch Philly.
3. Make time for your employees.
Your employees are your company’s most valuable asset. They believe in you and your business. They’ve stood by your side during the worst of times and have had the tenacity to encourage you to move forward when times are down. They are the future of the company so it’s essential that you never take them for granted. Focus on building rapport and real longterm relationships with the people who are the lifeblood of your business. Talk about things other than business, make time outside of the office to have fun, and learn more about who they are and what they stand for. Making time for your employees is the key to building longterm loyalty, trust, and stability in your company.
4. Make time for fun.
When I’m making sales calls, meeting with clients, brainstorming, designing, marketing, and everything in between; I’m having the time of my life. Everyday is a new adventure and a learning experience that leads to new results. Sometimes those results are great, sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned; but at the end of the day you need to train yourself to “clock out.” There are plenty of fun things to do outside of changing the world with your grand idea. One thing I’ve discovered is that having fun outside of work is another key component to problem solving and idea generation. Some of my best ideas have come from connecting with people outside of the workplace and having a good time.
No lie this butterfly landed right on my jeans. How cool is that!
5. Make time for nature.
When everything else in your life seems to be moving at the speed of light, make time to enjoy the simplicity of nature. Slow down, smell the roses and breathe in the fresh air. Listen to the the sounds of a bird chirp or a watch river flow. Find the beauty in a rainbow or sunset. Capture these moments in your mind or on film. Explore. Learn new things, unrelated to work. Allow your mind to wander.
6. Make time to write.
Ten years from now the rush and excitement of building a new company will all seem like a blur. You won’t remember specifics from day to day. You’ll find yourself wondering how you executed certain ideas and why you didn’t execute on others. Keep track, whether you blog or keep a hand written journal; these are the days you’ll want to remember.
7. Make time for your spirituality.
Whatever you believe in and however you observe it, make time to do so. Don’t let work keep you from building your faith. As you grow older you’ll find that your faith keeps you going in times of distress and uncertainty. It can be your most powerful tool while also helping to keep you humble and grounded.
8. Make time to exercise.
Step away from your daily grind and clear your head. As an avid weight lifter I love going to the gym to relieve stress and get my creative energy flowing. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve your focus along with boosting your energy and improving your mood. Exercise also allows you to leave your phone and computer behind for an hour or so and just focus on yourself.
Among all of these points there is a common theme: time. It’s not easy; but finding the right time balance is the key to being successful in business and happy in life. You have to find the time balance that works for you, so learn prioritize based on your personal needs. There is no master plan for perfecting this art-form, but with pigheaded discipline you can learn to improve your life balance one day at a time.