We struggle with work-life balance. Anyone else? We’re embarrassed to admit this, but there was a season of our life where we were working so hard to build our business — long hours, late nights — that one night, we saw a picture on social media of our entire family. Together. At dinner. And they hadn’t even invited us. Because we said “no” so many times before. This is just a really bad week… This month is just a little crazy… Once we’re out of wedding season, we’ll have more time. And on… and on… and on… Our feelings were hurt, but we’re big believers in self-awareness; and when we took an objective look in the mirror, it was pretty obvious: it was our fault. We knew something had to change. Because no business is worth your own family not inviting you to dinner because you’ve said “no” so many times, they just assume you’ll say “no” again.
We wanted balance, but we didn’t know how to get it. We felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Like we had to choose between a successful business and being successful in the rest of our life. Because building a business is a lot of work — especially at the beginning. It takes everything you’ve got… and then some. People who’ve never done it just don’t understand it. They can’t. Because it’s impossible to “get it” until you’ve gone through it.
So if you’re in those early years, to quote Zeek Braverman from Parenthood, we see you, and we hear you.
What we realize now, is that we were giving ourselves a false choice. Mistakenly, we thought that, in order to build a successful business, we had to put the rest of our life on hold for a few years. Eat, drink, breath our business, and sleep only as much as necessary. If we could press pause on everything else — Just for a while, we reasoned — we could get through the dark tunnel faster. Unfortunately, the people and things you value most might not be there waiting on the other side.
We know that’s weighty, but it’s true. We touched the hot stove with our family and it burned us just bad enough for us to recognize it and make a course correction. But some people don’t see the warning signs until it’s too late. For their marriage. For their health. For their children. For their finances and spiritual growth. For their relationships.
But we love our business. It matters. It gives us deep personal fulfillment and satisfaction, and we know it makes a difference in real people’s lives, too.
The million dollar question then of course, is this:
Can we have it all?
Yeah, over the long haul, we believe we can. And that you can, too.
It starts with recognizing a simple truth that we learned from famous author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar:
Temporary imbalance is normal. Permanent imbalance is not.
Temporary Imbalance Is Normal
When you’re getting pulled in so many directions, it’s hard sometimes to know where to direct your precious time and energy, because there are only so many hours in the day, and there’s only so much of you. It’s true, there’ll be seasons of your life when things are unbalanced, where you’re giving more attention to your family and less to your business, or vice versa.
As long as it just stays that way for a short season. Like wedding season. Haha. Again, kidding.
But, seriously, how do we keep those imbalances from becoming permanent?
By playing the long game from the start.
If we want to build a successful business that last five, ten, fifteen years (or more) we have to figure out how to make sure that it’s one component of an overall healthy life. Because if one part of the body is being taken care of, but the rest is being neglected, it doesn’t take long before the whole body is sick.
The good news, is that even though it might seem counterintuitive, every book and study we’ve read proves that we perform better as professionals and get more done when we work less hours more intentionally, with more focused intensity, instead of more hours where we’re unintentional, distracted or rocking the “multi-tasking” myth.
The Secret to Work-Life Balance: The Wheel of Life
Zig Ziglar teaches that there are seven sections in The Wheel of Life.
Image Courtesy of Chris Locurto
According to Zig, the wheel can’t turn when all the weight is focused in one section. It’ll turn slowly and bumpily when the weight of the wheel is spread across only one or two sections. But it’ll turn smoothly and effectively when the weight is distributed evenly to all seven sections. This couldn’t be truer in our life and business. When we spend all of our time obsessing over our business, we’re less productive and less happy. When we keep our priorities balanced across all seven areas, we may spend a little less time on our business, but we’re actually more productive!
Action Plan! Better Work-Life Balance THIS WEEK!
If you’re feeling a little imbalanced this week, if you’re starting to see warning lights in your life and need to take some control back in your business, do what we do when our life starts to get out of control:
Print off Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life and tape it to your fridge as a reminder to stay balanced.
Then, make a quick list of your goals for all seven areas for the week… and stick to them.
Keep these seven categories in mind each day, take quickly daily assessments and make mid-week adjustments when necessary.
Here are a few practical examples to get you started:
— If you have a double header wedding weekend, block off Monday. Not for editing. Not for catching up on emails. But to spend time with the people you love the most. Give yourself an emotional recharge and balance out that “social/family section” of the wheel before you start back at that “career” section on Tuesday.
— Swap an hour of Netflix for an hour of reading. For business or pleasure, whichever one helps balance out the intellectual part of your wheel. If you’ve been neglecting the “financial” part of your wheel, maybe you could commit to reading our favorite transformational book: The Total Money Makeover.
— If you can’t make it to church because you’re shooting a Sunday wedding, pick a night that week where you can balance out that “spiritual” category by watching or listening to a sermon online. Our church makes every single sermon available online if you need a good place to start!
— On the days you can’t make it to the gym, maybe you could do ten pushups every time you’re waiting for something. Like when you’re heating up your coffee or transferring images or during a commercial break. Ten pushups ten times a day is a hundred pushups! It adds up fast. Making the “physical” part of the wheel a priority is going to help you have more energy for every other section.
These of course are just a few examples to help you get started thinking of your life in the categories that will help you keep the whole thing healthy over the long haul. There’s no such thing as perfect balance, but intentionally placing quick daily checks and reminders for yourself and making adjustments along the way can make all the difference in avoiding burn out and improving your overall quality of life.
The only way to keep balance in your life is to make the most of the minutes you have at work so there’s time leftover for the people you love, right? Here’s a really helpful post that’ll help you set the right priorities and do way more in less time! Hope it’s a blessing to you!
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