Work-Life Balance: Reality or Fantasy for Small Business Owners

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Does work-life balance truly exist — or is it a mark most small business owners aim for which remains just out of reach?

The notion of work-life balance reared its head in the 80's. It was the time our culture began its shift to bigger and better toys. Or, as my client, John Lanza, puts it — the accumulation of stuff.

The idea of gathering more stuff while keeping a balance between work and non-work (i.e., life) hours seems a bit at odds, don't you think?

Since that time, there are have been several reiterations of work-life balance all of which continue to elude most small business owners.

It's time for a reboot.

The Balancing Act

Many small business owners, especially those that belong to the sandwich generation, have long given up on the idea of ever achieving a balance in their lives. Yet, like any worth-while goal, now is not the time to give up or give in to live a life filled with exhaustion, burnout, and regrets.

Let's begin again with a few simple premises:

  1. Define work/non-work life balance for yourself. Each of us is after something different when it comes to balancing our work with the rest of our lives. (At one time, I defined work-life balance by the shoes in my closet.) Whether you're after more time with your loved ones, greater revenue, or more energy, you get to decide for yourself.
  2. Experiment with strategies of achievement. There are many roads that lead to the same destination. Do some free wheeling to find what works best for you. And, be open to applying another strategy when the current one looses its shine.
  3. Think outside the schedule. Advancements in neurobiology are opening opportunities for better ways to approach performance. Whether you work in 40/20 minute cycles of productivity/restor schedule creative days and "hate to but have to" days, find your personal performance groove.
  4. Let go of accommodating everyone and every whim. I recently read we have an unlimited ability to respond and a limited ability to act. How true! Responding to and acting upon are two divergent concepts. One can respond (unlimited capability) by not acting (limited capacity).
  5. Don't be afraid to go against the grain. One of the great stresses in our modern day society is the compelling drive to stuff as much work as we can into hours of operation from 9 am–5 pm. This is a hangover from the industrial age. With advancements in technology, you truly can operate your business during your most energized hours.

Over time, we've become highly skilled at optimizing websites, computers, and business models. Sadly, we still suck at optimizing our lives. But I believe in us and I believe we can do better.

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