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Forget work-life balance—focus on creating harmony instead
The concept of work-life balance is often discussed and always sought after, especially by entrepreneurs. You work tirelessly to build your business, and you’d like time to enjoy the fruits of it as well—fair enough. However, a realistic discussion about work-life balance is difficult because the term itself suggests that “work” and “life” are always working against each other, rather than coexisting.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve chosen one of the most challenging paths to making a living, so you’ve likely done it for the right reasons, ones driven by passion rather than solely seeking financial gain. If that’s the case, then you might’ve had a hard time applying the usual “work-life balance” conversation to your life, because it’s largely impossible. One will inevitably find its way into the other, and the key to coming out of it alive is navigating them in context.
Rather than thinking of ways to balance two opposing pieces, you should strive for harmony, where your business, your health, and your relationships thrive equally.
Be mindful of your choices
Today’s culture puts people who work obsessively on a pedestal. Though being determined is admirable, it’s easy to forget that this usually means neglecting other equally important aspects of your life. If a business only succeeds at the expense of your personal relationships, mental stability, and health, is it worth it?
Every choice you make regarding your business should be grounded in your overall goal. Sacrifices along the way are unavoidable, but it’s essential to keep business priorities in perspective of the bigger picture. This might mean scaling back plans for growth or missing out on certain opportunities if the timing isn’t right. Don’t think of it as a setback—it isn’t. It’s making room in your life for everything else that matters just as much.
We rarely hear about entrepreneurs sleeping regular hours, taking breaks, and making a point to spend time with their families, but maybe these are the habits that we should be admiring more.
Plan your week around your priorities
Setting a to-do list every morning and checking tasks off as you go is useful—it keeps you organized and on task, and visualizing your progress at the end of each day brings a sense of accomplishment.
On the other hand, it’s easy to lose sight of your overarching goals when you’re focusing too much on the day-to-day.
Try thinking a little bigger. Take twenty minutes on a Sunday evening and establish the priorities that’ll guide the coming week. These should be specific, actionable goals that you’re prepared to have accomplished when Friday rolls around. This gives you a place to start so you can organize each day. Don’t forget to give yourself room to breathe, though. Life rarely stays on schedule.
Your work is never really done, is it? There’s always the next task, goal, or milestone to reach for. Ambition keeps us moving, and we wouldn’t get very far in its absence. There are, however, drawbacks to keeping your gaze fixed forward indefinitely. Never stopping to appreciate the present can make your pursuit of success a never-ending race where you’ll quickly burn out.
Take time, regularly, to appreciate and express gratitude for where you are and the people who have helped you get there.
Remember that your partners, team members, and family all play a part in your journey and you wouldn’t be where you are without them. With this, you’ll find a reminder of how far you’ve come, which can serve both to keep your goals in perspective and to keep pushing you forward.
You certainly don’t need to read this to tell you the importance of being aware of your personal health, but we’ll tell you anyway because it matters. Regular aerobic exercise (running, biking, swimming, hiking—the kind that gets your heart pumping) is proven to increase the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain that handles verbal memory and learning.
Think about that: staying active on a regular basis makes your brain bigger. Of course, there are lots of other benefits: improved mood, better sleep, and reduced stress are just a few.
Burnout will catch up to you quickly if you aren’t staying well-rested. Foregoing regular sleep prevents your brain from making new memories, weakens your immune system, and slows down your brain’s ability to process information.
Your productivity and the success of your business as a whole hinges on your ability to think quickly and creatively, so you need to optimize that by staying well-rested. (It’s also terrible for your skin to skip sleep, as it worsens wrinkles, acne, and allergies, but we won’t dwell on that.) It might seem at first like you just don’t have enough time to sleep, but the opposite is actually true. You can’t afford to skip out on sleep—there’s too much to lose.
Even if you can’t always get a full night’s sleep, there are ways to keep your mind in the right place that don’t take hours. There’s a body of evidence supporting the idea that meditation, if even for just a few minutes a day, can do wonders for your health, social life, brain function, and productivity. All of these lead to a sharper, more focused and efficient workday.
Take a vacation
You deserve it. Trust us. Aside from the fact that it’s a ton of fun to take a break from the routine to travel, visit family, or just lay on the beach, there are plenty of other benefits to a vacation that last longer than that sunburn you’ll get. For starters, you’ll relieve yourself of stress, which is essentially poison to your body, as it can lead to or worsen anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, digestive issues, and maybe worst of all—turn your hair grey.
Taking a vacation every now and then might also help you live longer. A study conducted by the American Psychosomatic Society found that men who took annual vacations were at a reduced risk of dying, specifically of coronary heart disease.
It’s easy to get lost in accomplishing goals, but taking some time off means you can strengthen bonds with your family, truly relax, and come back to your work with a clear head. Who knows, your next great idea might just strike you while you hike Yosemite National Park or lounge on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.
Walk the work-life tightrope with confidence
No one expects you to flip your lifestyle upside down in search of balance. If you find yourself bogged down more often than you’d like, assess where you struggle most and start small. Like we said: if you’re truly pursuing your passion, your work and your life should rarely clash violently. Instead, they can exist together peacefully with the right effort on your part.
Julian de Sevilla is the Marketing Specialist at Tresta, a cloud-based telecommunications company in Tallahassee, Florida. He manages social media accounts, blogs, and whatever else happens to land on his desk.