Why is it that running a business and having a life seem to be at odds with each other? Does being a solopreneur or small business owner require you to keep your nose to the grind 24/7?
I’ll bet you didn’t start a business and sign up for a single-track life where all your time is about work, work, and more work. Yet, if we’re not careful that’s exactly what can happen.
Admittedly, running a business in today’s economy is risky business. Afterall, there’s a lot at stake. Family finances, life savings, college fund – and that’s just on the personal finance side of things. Oftentimes we are risking it all to start and keep a business going.
So, I understand what it’s like to feel like you constantly need to keep the wheels turning in your business.
But what about your life?
You know, the rest of it. The parts of your life that existed before you had a business.
Because, while it may feel like life is all about your business right now, there are areas of your life you want to maintain for your own sake and sanity. Trust me, I know.
When I ventured into the world of self-employment six years ago, I wanted so badly to make it work (I still do). But I also knew that I wanted to be mom to my 6 and 8-year old. I still wanted to be wife to my husband, daughter to my parents, sister…you get the idea. I still wanted to have a life.
I don’t pretend to have it all together (I don’t think you really ever do, but that’s another blog post), but I do believe it’s possible to be in business and have a life.
Hustle is optional.
4 Key Questions for Having a Life
Below are a few questions I’ve had to ask myself along my 6-year journey to help me keep my work and life in perspective. I’m sharing them here in the event they might help you too.
1. What’s really important?
I’m the type of person who wants to give my all to whatever I set out to do and if you’re reading this, that might be you too. That’s why it’s super important to set priorities. While I want to do well in my business, I know it’s only one area of my life, so I often have to step back and ask myself what’s important.
Areas such as my relationship with God, my marriage, being there for my children – all those things are important to me, so I make it my goal to carve out time for them. Another area to pay attention to is your health because too often we put our health in jeopardy when we are working long, crazy hours.
Determine the areas of your life you want to give attention to and make a plan to include them. You may want to ask this question as you do your monthly planning so that areas of priorities don’t fall off your radar.
2. How much is enough?
If it’s one thing I know to be true is that the work never ends. When you’re working for yourself, you’re probably the CEO, accountant, marketing manager and the copy guy.
No matter how much I push to get done today, there’ll always be more work waiting for me tomorrow. It’s tempting to keep working late into the night and early in the morning, so this is an area I have to be very intentional about.
In order to pull myself away, I set some working hours. If I was at a ‘regular job’ getting paid by someone else, I would have set hours, so why not have them for myself, right?
I’ve chosen to work around my children’s school schedule, but your schedule might look different. I encourage you to choose times that work best for you.
Another area where I ask myself ‘how much is enough’ is around money goals. This one starts with setting some income goals for myself. Because again, like in the example above, I might be tempted to keep going and pushing myself to make more money.
Now, I know you might be wondering if making more money isn’t the goal in business. While that might be true, I would say just be wary of scenarios that require you to work more hours in order to make more money. Or else you’ll always struggle to find time for the things that are important to you.
3. Am I okay with saying no?
‘No’ is a scary word in business, at least for me it is. So, learning to say no has been a challenge in many ways. One area that I’ve felt the need to say no is to volunteer opportunities.
I don’t know what it is about solopreneurship that makes other people think you have lots of time to spare. Maybe you’re being asked to volunteer extra time at your child’s school, at church or for your husband’s soccer team. Who knows what will come up for you? Just be prepared by setting clear boundaries.
There are times when you should say yes. I encourage you to give back and serve your community and help out friends and family when you can, all while keeping in mind that you may have to make up this time somewhere else.
4. Who’s my competition?
Now this is a big one, because in today’s social media-saturated world, it might look like my competition is every other solopreneur who has an online presence.
Spend just a few minutes on Facebook and Instagram and you might think that most business owners have it easy. They are vacationing in France, working from the beach and having 4-day work weeks. Say what?
Hang on a second.
Are they really my competition? Chances are many of them are not. They are not even anywhere close to my niche.
So, I have to avoid getting caught in a comparison trap. Any comparisons I need to do in my business should be based on time-tested business principles, not based on how others are portraying themselves online.
These are just a few questions I ask myself occasionally to ensure my business doesn’t take over my life. If I find my time isn’t being used in ways that are consistent with my values and priorities, I can always make adjustments along the way.
Sure, my business is important to me, but I know it’s only one aspect of my life. As for the other parts of my life, I want them to still be there when I’m no longer in business. Asking these questions helps me keep things in perspective so that I can thrive in all areas of my life.
How about you?
Which of these questions will you use, and which others might you add?
Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear how you balance work and life.
Meet the Guest Blogger
Marva Smith is a management consultant, leadership trainer, work-life coach and writer. Yet, her favorite role is wife to her husband of 16 years, and mom to a teen and tween. She is passionate about equipping, inspiring and empowering women to thrive in every area of life, and does this through her courses, coaching and online Free to Thrive Community.
Her ideal day starts while it’s still dark with her Bible in one hand and coffee in the other.