How To Put Your Life First, Business Second... Without Sacrificing Your Success
Do you feel like your business has overrun your life?
Being an entrepreneur is messy. And I'm not going to pretend that everyone doesn't go through the initial phase of concrete-laying and rite of passage grunt work.
I remember the grind... and in some ways, I still grind.
But when I first started my business the lines were blurry and I didn't know the difference between a boundary and a 14-hour work day with cereal for all three meals.
(Cereal counts as dinner, right?)
Let's be honest, though... in the beginning, it doesn't even matter that you're working like a crazy person. You're so on fire, with fresh ideas, and the vision of freedom on the horizon, that you'll do almost anything to make your business work.
But I want to talk about what happens when that fire starts to crackle and fizzle out.
How do you keep going when it gets hard? When you imagined it differently? When you thought the "make-money-while-you-sleep" thing was as easy as setting up a squeeze page? When it's not all rainbows and butterfly's and 3-hour work days?
Let me give you a hint: a better business doesn't just fall in your lap. You don't just suddenly go from survival to thriving.
So is "free time" just a mythical unicorn in the entrepreneur world? Will there ever be a breaking point where things shift and it get's easier?
Will our lives ever "balance" out? Will our business run our lives forever? Does balance even exist?
So many unanswered questions, I know.
While I don't believe I have all the answers, my hope is that you're open to me putting in my two cents on the subject matter.
My Breaking Point
Two days after my wedding, I was laying in bed in a Boca Raton hotel swallowed up by big, fluffy white pillows. I felt like a truck hit me. But I was incredibly rested at the same time -- you know that feeling when you've slept too much that you still feel tired and groggy?
I had just had a successful launch, my business was being taken care of... but I still felt this pressure like if I wasn't working, my business wasn't growing.
And even though it was a silly thought, considering the circumstances, it was true.
I had been living "launch to launch" at this point and even though I wanted so badly to be present in the moment with my husband... I couldn't help but let my mind race with lust for a more passive way to run my business.
I wanted more spaciousness. Freedom. Time off. Space to breathe.
First world problems, I know.
But at a certain point in life I started longing for simplicity and for a more spacious life where I could step away from my computer and use my hands, literally.
Gardening, cooking in the kitchen, flipping pages of a good book.
You could say I'm an old soul at heart.
And when it comes to living life I really do have an old-school perspective that I used to ignore.
I have BIG dreams, don't get me wrong. But in my mind, that doesn't equate to filling up every space of my calendar and letting the sweet moments of life evade me.
So I had to simply choose to do things differently from there on out and to become more intentional with every personal and business decision. Oh and a few other things, too...
4 Steps to Putting Your Life First, Business Second
1. Make The Decision -
I know this may sound grossly simplified but choosing to put your life first really just comes down to a decision. The decision to prioritize, to do marginally less, to let go of perfectionism, to be OK with the fact that you can't (and shouldn't) do it all. Everyday I battle with this. I'm extremely driven yet I have a hard time finding a balance between being a workaholic and lazy. But everyday that I wake up with purpose is another opportunity to choose to focus on what's important, and be ok with letting go of what isn't. Those small, daily decisions have allowed me to grow a successful business while having a thriving marriage and sacred time to myself.
2. Work Smarter and Ditch The Leaky Activities -
Did you know that only 20% of our daily activities produce 80% of our desired results? So what about the other 80% of activities we're spending our time on? This was a harsh realization for me when I was in year 2 of my business. I was as busy as ever but feeling like a hamster on a wheel. Working smarter allows you to do less and can actually produce better results. "Leaky activities" for me included scrolling on social media, task-switching, answering emails at all hours of the day, allowing any spot on my calendar to get filled up.
Now, working smarter looks like this: having specific time blocks for specific tasks, only taking coaching client calls on certain days, turning off all notifications on my digital devices, keeping my phone on airplane mode (or in the other room for that matter) while I'm working, focusing during 1-hour increments then logging off and shutting down my laptop then I'm done work.
It sounds so simple, but this is the stuff most of us don't have enough discipline to do.
3. Get Systems in Place
If you know me well, you know that I LOVE systems and sales funnels. But I didn't always love them. As a naturally creative person who studied fashion and interior design in college, it wasn't always easy for me to use my left brain. But when I realized that systems and structures were actually my ticket to more freedom? I was all in.
Internal systems, employee systems and sales systems are what all major corporations have in place. The reason so many entrepreneur's fail to implement systems is because we're not thinking to scale. Systems should be drawn up for any repeatable task that happens inside your business. Like responding to client emails, sending invoices, booking up with sales conversations, etc.
4. Let Go of Perfectionism
At the end of the day we have to allow ourselves to fail at this. We won't get it right the first, second or even third time... and that's ok. If you aim to improve by just 1% each day, you'll see the light at the end of the tunnel. But if you let your tendency for perfectionism rule, you'll never feel good enough.
So that brings me the most important point: there is no destination for this. The beauty is in the journey. The reward is in constantly improving and re-shifting priorities. Some days we'll get our schedules backwards and other days we may nail our to-do's with extra time for an unexpected date night.
The point is you should never expect to be perfect, but expect to be expected to keep trying.
In the great words of Steven Furtick, "The pain of falling short is nothing compared to the shame of stopping short".
Cheers to continuous and intentional self-improvement,
P.S. Not sure if you're focusing on the wrong business-building activities? Need to figure out what's blocking your success? Take this FREE quiz to uncover what's holding you back so you can get focused on the right business activities and strategies.