The Importance of Finding Balance as an Entrepreneur
When I decided to start my own business in 2015, I didn’t stop to consider how much mental and emotional energy I would have to expend to make it happen.
In fact, I didn’t think about how I’d be taking on a label I never thought I would: entrepreneur.
That label always intimidated me. Even now I’d probably describe myself as more of an accidental entrepreneur. I went into business for myself for one main reason–freedom. It was eating away at my soul to work for other people. There was no joy, only steadily growing resentment. So, I went for it.
When I walked out the doors of my last employee job I felt immense amounts of joy, and a little bit of “what the hell have I done?”, but that’s to be expected.
What I didn’t know at the time was how, as an entrepreneur, I’d end up getting completely engulfed in the entrepreneurial process and would struggle to figure out how to come up for air.
How do you manage to “turn off” when you and you alone are responsible for keeping a roof over your head, food on the table, lights on, and heat running? Triple and quadruple that pressure if you’re also responsible for a family, employees, and their families.
The pressure is real, amiright?
What I wish I would’ve known was how imperative it would be to separate myself from my business and find ways to step away, zoom out, and make sure my life was more than just my business.
The necessity to create joy in our lives as entrepreneurs cannot be understated.
Here are 3 things I’ve found to help remind myself that my worth is not entangled with the success of my business and rediscover joy in my life.
YOU ARE NOT YOUR BUSINESS
You had an idea. You have a skill. You decided to monetize that skill in order to make money. This does not define you. You are a whole and complete person regardless of what happens with your business.
We are a passionate bunch, entrepreneurs. We pour ourselves into our businesses. We love them. We nurture them… and sometimes things don’t work out.
Remember: You’re not a failure if your business is failing. You’re learning. You’re growing. What you decide to do next defines you more than your struggling business.
BE MORE INTERESTING THAN YOUR BUSINESS
It’s awesome that you decided to start your own business, but it’s not all that you are.
What hobbies do you have? I mean OTHER than starting businesses. What brings you fulfillment and has nothing to do with making money? What is something completely unrelated to your business that you’ve always wanted to do?
Make it a priority to enrich your life through art, movement, nature, and travel. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Mandarin or cook authentic Italian cuisine. So… do it. Taking on a hobby gives you a reason to step away from your computer, mute your notifications and use an entirely different part of your brain.
What’s more? Having an array of hobbies and interests outside of your business will make you a better, more balanced entrepreneur, which means more growth and expansion for both you and your business.
MAKE JOY A PRIORITY
You’re not going to accomplish anything without prioritization–including joy.
A couple of years into my entrepreneurial journey I had a client make an observation that has stuck with me, “What you’ve created here is phenomenal, Ron, but I’m curious what you’re doing to take care of you.”
I wasn’t totally sure what they meant. “I started this business to take care of myself,” I replied.
“I know,” they said, “but you’re working 12 hour days and doing for everyone else all the time. What are you doing for yourself when you’re not here, you know, to bring yourself some joy?”
What I couldn’t see from my vantage point was that my 12 hour days were starting to take a toll.
That conversation made me take stock of what my life actually consisted of: a lot of work, a lot of recovering from work at my apartment, and the occasional outing with friends.
I hadn’t noticed much because I loved what I was doing, and I loved serving my clients and bringing them immense amounts of joy. Where had all my hobbies gone? I knew I had them once. Did I remember what joy even felt like?
I had to face the fact that I’d lost myself in the process of starting my first business. I used it as a means to create the freedom I was desperate for, but alongside that I’d also used it as a means to ignore the things in my life that were stealing my joy.
I’d become an entrepreneur and a professional avoider.
Once I saw that, I couldn’t unsee it.
I started addressing and off-loading the things I’d been avoiding, and started adding things into my daily life that reignited the joy I’d lost. It was simple things, like buying really nice markers and coloring books and creating again. I also hired a personal trainer and started focusing on getting physically (not to mention mentally and emotionally) stronger.
I rediscovered joy because I started prioritizing it.
Over the years I’ve tried an array of hobbies. Everything from making friendship bracelets to taking modern dance classes. I’ve cooked and baked, and learned how to illustrate. The lifespan of my hobbies depends on how much joy they’re sparking. Just because you start a hobby, doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. Do it for however long you’re truly enjoying it, and then move on to the next thing.
Whatever you do, remember that your life is so much bigger than your business. There is so much to see and do in this world. Don’t miss out on it all because working on your business is easier than rediscovering who you are.