When it comes to work-life balance, there seems to be a shift that's happening. It's not a generational shift, although many younger generations are actively voicing their concerns, but instead, it seems to be more of a shift in perspective.
Many are realizing that the previous model of working hard no matter the circumstances or sacrifices in the hopes of building a beautiful life you can enjoy when you retire is flawed.
Corporations aren't handing out gold watches for years of service anymore. Many aren't even able to provide substantial enough raises that account for inflation. Yet, they expect you to go above and beyond. They want you to exceed expectations, and prioritize the company over your personal life as if it was your own business.
But it isn't your business. You probably don't have stock in the company, and the late hours, stress, and never ending list of responsibilities feels overwhelming.
Some decide to go out on their own and take the entrepreneur route. They create their own business to avoid working for someone else, but they end up working even more hours to ensure it's a success. In the end, many end up feeling like an employee in their own business because they don't have freedom in their schedule, and they definitely don't feel like they can afford to take time off.
In both situations, you're on track to burning yourself out. This model and perspective on work-life balance just isn't sustainable.
So, what if instead you created a business that supported the life you wanted now?
Make the Time to Find Joy Now
Life is too short to spend it doing things you don't enjoy. Sacrificing your happiness, health and relationships in the hopes that you'll eventually create a better life for yourself is risky and unsustainable.
Instead, make time to add joy to your life now. Build a business that supports the life you want to live today, not tomorrow.
Consider your priorities and what truly matters to you in life. What really matters usually has to do with your time and how you choose to spend it.
Once you have an idea of the type of life you want, you need to set boundaries to facilitate and protect it. If you don't respect your time, no one else will!
There was a story we heard recently that we felt nicely encapsulated this mindset:
There was a businessman on vacation who sat by a beach in a small village.
As he enjoyed the beautiful water and the cool sea breeze, he saw a fisherman in a small boat paddling towards the shore with several large fish.
The businessman was impressed and called out to the fisherman, "How long does it take you to catch so many large fish."
"Just a short while." The fisherman replied as he pulled his boat up on the shore.
The businessman was surprised. "Why don't you stay longer in your boat and catch even more?"
"I catch what I need to feed my family." The fisherman said.
Perplexed, the businessman asked, "Well, what do you do for the rest of the day?"
The fisherman smiled and said, "I usually cook a nice meal, and enjoy the beach with my family."
Excited by the fisherman's skill, the businessman offered a proposal. "I have a degree in business management. I could help you build a successful business. We can start by setting up a company so you can claim your business expenses as a deduction. You'll spend more time at sea and will catch as many fish as possible. After you've saved enough money, we can get you a bigger boat, so you can catch even more fish. Eventually, you can buy more boats, equipment, and employ many fishermen to work for you. We'll grow your business so big that you'll need a corporate headquarters where you can manage your growing branches.
"What happens after that?" Asked the fisherman.
The businessman smiled, "Well after that you can go public and sell shares in the Stock Market and be rich."
"And after that?"
"After that, you can retire, move to a house by the ocean, wake up and do whatever you want!"
The fisherman shook his head, puzzled, "Isn't that what I'm doing now?"
*There seems to be many versions of this story, all set in different locations and available in various languages. From what we could find, it looks like Heinrich Boll wrote the original.
We like the message of this story because it's a great reminder to keep things in perspective. Many entrepreneurs say they want a million dollar business, but in reality, if they had a successful six figure business with work-life balance, they'd probably be happier. The larger your team, office, and risk grows, the more stress and responsibilities come with it.
So what can you do to create a successful business with work-life balance that allows you to live the life you want now?
Questions to Consider While Deciding the Type of Business You Want to Build:
What skill or experience do you have that others would pay money to learn?
Can you create a course, offer training over Zoom, or provide a service that solves a problem of your target audience?
Who is your ideal client? What are some non-negotiables or red flags that you will look out for in a prospective client?
Do you need an office space, or are you willing to setup a space to work from home?
Will you need a team of employees, or can you work with independent contractors as needed?
Are you willing to use technology to automate manual tasks (setting up appointments, emails, and schedule social posts)?
What do you want your schedule to look like? Will you be appointment only, and have flexible hours, or do you work best during a set part of the day?
Are there boundaries you'd like to set for yourself to ensure you have work-life balance (only checking emails during work hours, respecting your schedule, and only working with clients who are a great fit, etc.)?
Don't Spend Your Life Saying "Once __ Happens, Then I'll Be Happy"
Money and success doesn't guarantee happiness. It might help alleviate some stressors for you, but at the end of the day, it's better to enjoy life now than promise yourself happiness in the future.
What does happiness look like for you?
Happiness for us is:
Letting go of the office in favor or working from home
Teaching others how to market and update their online business
Deciding to be appointment only and sticking to it
Utilizing technology to save time and streamline manual tasks
Only taking on clients who are kind, respectful and ready to learn
Being able to go for walks with the dogs when we want, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying a 3 day weekend without feeling stressed