Strike A Balance
by Cheryl Wright
Do you lament the discrepancy between the number of hours you dedicate to your businesses and those you allocate to your personal needs, family, social events and leisure activities?
It may begin in the early days, when you wear all the hats trying to get your business up and running, the late nights pouring over financial paperwork, plans, designs, production, etc. Later on, when the business shows signs that your hard work is paying off, big-time, your responsibilities (though narrower because you may have an employee or two) become more complex and intense.
It may start innocently enough, intensify gradually and eventually, pick up speed. Before you realize it, you are regularly neglecting home, family, friends and your own needs. Deepening depression, long stretches of irritability, exhaustion, poor eating habits and interrupted sleep are only some of the telltale signs of this imbalance. Additionally, a cluttered and disorganized home, family discord and even divorce may creep in and leave your personal life in shambles. Plus when things are scrambled on the home front, the ripples affect how you manage your business responsibilities.
Do you bring work home, work late hours or on weekends, while breaking promises to loved ones and cancelling social functions on a regular basis? Is your list of friends growing shorter and the hobbies that once gave you so much pleasure, a distant memory? Then your business is infringing on and undermining your personal life.
If you identify with such symptoms, these simple techniques can help you to strike a comfortable balance.
1. Redefine your priorities
You may need to remind yourself of what’s truly important in the scheme of your life. Write them down. They should include the kind of environment, relationships, personal development, health issues and leisure and social activities that foster a balanced life.
Re-organize your daily or weekly agenda to devote time to each item on your list of personal priorities.
2. Schedule personal time
Life changes when you embark on a business venture. So choose the most enjoyable and effective activities to relieve stress and rejuvenate you on all levels.
Note personal time on your calendar, just as you would a doctor’s appointment or meetings with clients and keep those appointments with yourself.
3. Set boundaries
Just because you can, does not always mean that you should. If you say yes to every request that comes your way, you will stretch yourself thin and both your business and personal life will suffer.
Practice saying no. You can be assertive and still be polite and respectful. Apart from the usual “no” offer to help in one small area, on a limited basis or to come on board when things slow down in your business or you have fulfilled certain personal commitments. It may be difficult, but necessary if you want to build a successful business alongside a balanced and fulfilling life.
4. Pursue life-long passions
Life is more fulfilling when you take time to do the things that bring you joy on an emotional or creative level. Direct some of your energies toward activities that are in harmony with your personality and life purpose.
Re-acquaint yourself with an old but well-loved hobby or a secondary passion. Re-establish memberships with groups whose vision and mission resonates with you.
5. Live like you work
Are you organized at work but your home is in shambles? Are you the queen of delegating but you turn into everyone’s slave at your front door? Are you the financial wizard that zaps success into every deal but your personal finances is a guessing game?
Apply to your personal life, some of the same rules of organization and delegation that work so well at the office.
The satisfaction of running a successful business can easily fade in the face of decaying health, damaged or lost relationships, a stagnant social life and a growing, inner discontent. Strike a balance and enjoy the best of both worlds.
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Cheryl is a freelance writer, whose essays, feature articles and columns have been published online and in print since 1998. Cheryl's weekly column, Wright Words of Wisdom, debuted in September 2006 in the WomanWise magazine - a Sunday pullout in the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper.
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