Sharing my thoughts on the subject of work/life balance brought a range of passionate reactions from my entrepreneurial clients, colleagues, and friends. This discussion started when I shared my response for an article I had contributed to in CEO Blog Nation (This article shared some great tips and perspectives.).
As this heated debate continued, 3 very divided camps emerged:
- Those who believe that achieving work/life balance is essential, or you will burn-out. The proponents of this approach shared strategies for how they work to attain it.
- Those who believe work/life balance is important and something you should strive for, despite thinking it’s ultimately not attainable.
- Those who believe that most entrepreneurs are not interested in balance in the traditional sense, but rather in freedom and control over their life.
Where do I stand? Firmly in Camp #3.
One of the most rewarding/important things (along with making an impact) for most entrepreneurs is living life on their own terms. If you survey entrepreneurs on why they became an entrepreneur, you continuously hear of the desire for freedom. Rarely, do you hear highly successful entrepreneurs say work/life balance. They say they want more family time and/or more time to pursue personal passions, but it’s talked about as time to do what’s important to them. It’s not talked about as striving for balance.
For me, one of the things I love about being an entrepreneur isn’t that I can balance my work and personal life, but that I can align them with my priorities and passions and make choices about when and how I spend my time.
For every entrepreneur this will look different because of different considerations and constraints. For me, having control of my schedule is huge. Being with my kids has always been my priority. From the time my kids where young, I home-schooled them and arranged my schedule to take them to classes and activities, often working on my phone in all kinds of interesting places. I don’t mind working long hours, but I don’t work early hours. I love the flexibility to work late into the night when my family sleeps, to be around my dogs, and to travel the globe to visit with friends.
I find myself agreeing when some of the top 1% entrepreneurs I know, insist that for them not being able to tell when they’re playing or working is a sign of that they are living their life the way they want to, that they’re doing it right. For others, it’s getting up at 4 am and being done to go to the beach, pick their kids up at school, or simply being free to do whatever they want.
And, while the area they want to make a difference in varied, making an impact, fulfilling their mission is the long-term goal that comes up for most entrepreneurs when the discussion of balance is on the table. For me, it’s non-negotiable that I’m free to go after my biggest mission, no matter who thinks it’s impossible, and ultimately fulfill it.
Get clear on what what’s important to you. Being an entrepreneur is about freedom to make choices. Decide what you want, what work/life alignment looks like for you, and then let it be a litmus test that guides your actions in your business and personal life. Ask if doing, or not doing, something brings you closer or further from who you want to be, what you want to achieve, and how you want to live. If it doesn’t bring you closer …don’t do it! Choose to consciously create your business and your life!
For those of you who are saying, “But there are some things I have to do, whether I like it or not.” That may be in true to an extent. But the litmus test question isn’t aimed at the little things. It addresses the bigger picture of alignment and being in the No Doubt Zone™. Sometimes taking those little actions you don’t want to take, that feel like they’re not who you are at your core, or how you want to live, are part of choosing to create your aligned business and your life in the big picture.
This distinction came up in conversation with my 18 year old daughter the other day. I asked her to do something that she didn’t want to do and she promptly responded by reminding me that I told her that I wanted her to do what she loves; that I told her I love what I do every day.
Did she have me checkmated? No. It’s not about loving every single everything you have to do; you may have to sit in traffic to get to a conference you’re excited about, you may have to do some paperwork that you can’t outsource, but it is part of creating and sustaining what you want and those actions are part of the process of creating what you want, being who you want to be and evolving into the person you need to be to create what you want.
So which camp are you in? Should we heed the warning of the entrepreneurs in Camp #1 and make work/life balance a priority? Should we go after the goal of balance said to be unattainable by Camp #2? Or should we forget the whole notion of going for work/life balance, figure out what is right for us and join Camp #3?
Love to hear your thoughts and questions! Please comment below.
From the No Doubt Zone™,
I agree. I am a #3 also for more reasons than the length of your post. If work and life are somehow separate you are doing it wrong. Love what you do and you never have to work. I never have.
Thanks, Michael! Knowing you, I’m not surprised you’re in Camp #3.
I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like “work”. Interesting that some entrepreneurs resonate with the idea that work and life shouldn’t be separate and others (including some who love what they do) thrive with the separation. These different perspectives are often reflected in which camp someone feels most aligned with.