Being self-employed is a distance run, not a sprint. It doesn’t “end”. Therefore the habits you put into place at the start of your business need to be sustainable. Some might say achieving balance is impossible, and they are right. But, not in the way you think they are…
I believe balance is an elusive and unattainable goal. More stress is created in people today because of their quest to achieve balance than in simply creating a rhythm to life that works for you regardless of whether that meets some nebulous balance criteria.
I think Danielle LaPorte says it best:
Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress than the craving for balance itself.
I agree with her. What I also know for sure is that we crave a balance of sorts. It’s programmed inside of us. Think homeostasis. The tendency of a system (living beings) to maintain internal stability and a psychological equilibrium. Equilibrium is not about a perfect state of balance however. It’s about finding and creating that stability within what conditions are present.
I like to think of it as finding your rhythm. Sometimes that rhythm will be fast and charge full speed ahead toward a crescendo (think: product launch) and other times it will be a tranquil and very slow beat (think: lying on the beach on vacation). You can’t live in the high state forever because it’s not sustainable (think: dreadful music). You’re also likely to be bored to death after a certain period of nothing but tranquility. Not to mention as a business owner you aren’t likely to make any money or have much of an impact without taking any action. It’s the relationship between the extremes and the varying of tempo that allows you and your business to be in a sustainable rhythm and dare I say beautiful harmony.
While this rhythm looks different for every person, every person really does need a variety of tempos over time. If you’re hyped up on caffeine and think that disconnecting or taking a break is not for you, you’re deluding yourself. (Consider these perspectives: Taking Work on Vacation this Summer?, Am I the Only Blogger Who Loves to Unplug?, and R&R – Luxury or Lifeblood?)
I’m not suggesting being authentic by doing things you don’t want to do, but I am saying to find stillness and ways to disconnect that align with who you are.
There’s not a business owner that comes to work with me that isn’t at some level emotionally, mentally, or physically burned out. They might not be in the crash and burn stage (yet), but they are feeling the impact of a great deal of doing and not enough being. They are trying to live in nonstop crescendo land.
Let’s be honest. When you’re trying to replace a salary you gave up to hang your own shingle it can be tempting to follow the old (but dangerous) adages of “put your nose to the grindstone” and “never let it rest until the good is better and the better is best!”. Yes you need action much like music needs notes, but you need to be in harmony. Music is a combination of notes and silence; some have stated that music is what happens between the notes.
I know personally when I first started my business I stayed glued to my computer. Oh I was busy all right. Not particularly productive and certainly not bringing in the business I wanted, but I filled my days and nights. One day a good friend asked me what I was yearning to do that I was only waiting until I was “successful enough” to start doing. I answered – I want to take a long bike ride during the week or go for a hike. Her advice? Start doing that NOW. Nothing is stopping you. So I did. Instant freedom.
It sounds really obvious, right? Yet I couldn’t see the forest from the trees. Certainly I could play for a few hours a week and not wait for a nonexistent someday to do what I wanted to do. Now I plan playtime into every week. The whole point of life is to enjoy the journey, so what are you waiting for?
Even if you love what you do (and most small business owners do) you need variety. Consciously taking time for other things that matter to you outside of your business enables you to be:
- More creative
- More productive
- A better partner in any relationship (friend, spouse, parent, etc.)
These are not just fluff. They are how you navigate your days. They become the legacy you leave. Do now allow the things that matter most to become collateral damage in your quest for some external goal.
One of the 3 P’s of the Intuitive Intelligence® work I do with business owners is playfulness. We are meant to enjoy the journey. Life waits for no one and your business is an important part of your life. At the end of the day it is just one part, not an all-consuming endeavor.
Take time to discover your own unique rhythm for your life and business. Then rejoice in the journey along the way. It’s the only true path to success.
This post originally appeared on BlogHer.com.