The lie about balanced living
‘My business is growing fast, but how do I balance its increasing demands on my time and energy with my other commitments?’
Suzi Dafnis has the answers: I don’t know who decided it was most ideal (and that we would be most happy) if all areas of our life received equal time and attention, but I think it’s a lie. The idea of a balanced life – of all things in equal proportion – is a mistake and sets you up for failure.
“How do you balance life and work?” I often hear people ask. Well, the reality of growing a business is that, in my experience, balance will remain elusive.
Here’s why – and what to do about it:
It’s your life!
You don’t REALLY have a “work life” and a “home life”. There is NO demarcation in reality: you have one life! So make it be what you want it to be. Every minute of every day you choose how you will spend time, with whom and doing what. You will be happiest if you choose for YOU, and not for anyone else. That doesn’t mean you can shirk your responsibilities, but don’t have to be a victim of time. You DO have power over your time, so use it.
You can’t manage time, so just do what matters
You have 24 hours – 1440 minutes – each day. Spend the time the way that matters to you most. If you’re focusing on business growth right now, you may spend a disproportionate amount of time working compared to socialising. If you’re raising children, you may spend more time between work and family than you do on health.
You can’t do everything (nor would you want to!) so use your energy and time doing what will make you happiest and get you the results you want. Make your life work for you. Your life will go through cycles as will your business. Just focus on what is important. Your priorities will change over time.
Get out of balance
Go on, get totally out of balance. Play full-tilt. The most fun you can have is in doing what you want to do at 110%. When you have a new business deal on the horizon put your passion and attention into that new client acquisition. When your body is crying out for rest, spontaneously take a “work day” out of your business to play all day with your kids or to walk on the beach. When you’ve been eating well and sleeping enough (and have energy reserves) burn the midnight oil on a project that lights you up.
Whatever hat you’re wearing (husband, mother, business owner, chef, friend), wear it 110%.
Notice your mood – and live consciously
Here’s some advice a friend gave me that works: take a look at your personal and business statistics and review your journal (you DO keep one, don’t you?). Note any patterns that you see. This is a great way to find areas that work for, or against you. For example, you might see that your mood is up and you’re feeling great if you read a book, worked out, called John Doe, or whatever it is that preceded a feeling of being happy and fulfilled. So you would want to do more of that action that created the feeling. On the other side, you may see that NOT doing something that you intended to do, NOT saying something you wanted to say, talking to Mary Smith, brought your mood down.
Just notice. Awareness and going about your day in a conscious way will have you feel more in control of life (balanced if you like) and less at the effect of life. Play hard.
Suzi Dafnis is a Director of Pow Wow Events International (powwowevents.com.au), a provider of business and personal development tools for entrepreneurs. She is also the National General Manager of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network (www.abn.org.au), which runs a mentoring program for women business owners.