Is Balance a Myth for Entrepreneurs?
If you read any sort of self-help or women's magazines, you're all too familiar with this concept of 'life balance'. It's held up as the ultimate goal for today's busy woman: balancing work, relationships, exercise, hobbies and health to feel fulfilled and have time for everything.
The thing is, for entrepreneurs, this traditional definition of balance doesn't work.
From an outsider's perspective, the lifestyle of an entrepreneur is anything but balanced. Work seems to have taken over her life.
Like many people, she's always thinking about work, but the key difference is that the entrepreneur actually enjoys it. (Why else would she put herself through the pain of birthing a company if it wasn't motivated by love?).
Entrepreneurs Are Different
Growing a company, or developing any creative project for that matter, is as much an art as a science. Insight, ideas and inspiration can hit at any time of day – and she needs to be ready to catch them. And so it appears that she is working around the clock, and can't "switch off."
Held up to the traditional concept of balance, the entrepreneur is failing.
I have experienced this sense of failure, and the subsequent guilt, while working on my own creative projects. Work took over every minute of my free time, but I felt continually guilty about it. Guilt while I was working and guilt even when I was supposed to be relaxing. It was an insidious cycle that made me doubt myself and become less productive.
We need to redefine balance for the entrepreneur. Trying to have every element of life perfectly balanced forever is just not going to happen. Balance is unique to each person, and it's always shifting. It's based on priorities. What is important to you at that point in time?
It's all about priorities. Which elements of your life are important? Family/friends, health and work probably appear on most people's lists – but what else feels right for you? Exercise? Spirituality? Hobbies? Vacations? It's a waste of energy to try to balance something you don't care about.
Balance is unique. Everyone has different goals and preferences. Compare a super-social night-owl to a health-conscious early-bird ... the perfect sense of life balance will be very different for each woman. Figure out what works for you, even if it seems strange to other people.
Balance is always changing. Once you've found this elusive "balance", don't hold on too tightly. What feels right will change over months or years. When starting a new venture, it's natural to want to work on it around the clock. But this might change as the company matures – and it's not failure to change your habits with that.
The entrepreneur can have balance, if she's intentional about it. But it's not the balance that appears in most glossy magazines.
The entrepreneur's balance is often focused around her work, and shifts over time. It's that combination of work, family and other elements that make her feel good and stay on track to reaching her goals, even if that combinaton doesn't match the standard definition of balance.
Let's stop beating ourselves up for not achieving this unrealistic ideal of balance, and start finding what works for each of us at this point in time. Our families, our health, and even our businesses will be much better for it!
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