The Happy Entrepreneur: 5 Tips for Work Life Balance
Sarah Mae (SMae) |
What does it take to be a Happy Entrepreneur?
Starting a business often takes a ton of sacrifice, at least in the early days. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle with overwhelm and burnout. Days filled with e-mails, content creation, planning launches, nurturing clients, and dozens of other distractions – all while trying to be mindful, healthy, and spend more time with the people we care about, leave us feeling like we’re like playing a giant game of ‘Whac-a-Mole’.
Being a social studies and career education teacher, with a BA in political science, has given me some interesting insight into the contemporary and historical systems that make up society, and how we try to get teenagers to fit into this box that has been built for them.
Career education classes are designed around helping students pick a career and manage their personal finances. Still, these classes are constantly cut, interrupted, and moved off the timetable, which shows how seriously they are taken.
This is what I love about entrepreneurship. It throws the damn box away.
But here’s the problem, we still learned IN the system. So while, as entrepreneurs, we’re highly ambitious and intelligent people, we still haven’t learned the skills needed to create work/life balance.
I’m not talking about finding the right productivity apps or outsourcing our tasks, all great things, but no, I am talking about feeling great and finding time for the things that matter most, even while juggling responsibilities.
Table of Contents
The Happy Entrepreneur: 6 Tips for Work Life Balance
1) Be Present
Entrepreneurs are, by nature, always looking for the next way to level up their game, so how do we stay present in the now?
First, you need to understand why you’re building a business begin with. Not just the money and freedom, but also the value you’re bringing to the world. That way, when your mind tries to keep you looking at the past for signs things aren’t going to work, you have your “why” there to turn your gaze forward.
Next, you need to have your vision of what ultimate success is going to look like at the top. A lot of entrepreneurs stop here; however, creating the vision is not enough. You can’t live in the future and expect it to happen. So, while you need the vision to guide your steps and keep you moving forward, you can’t stay stuck there. If you do, you’re going to trip over more rocks and branches, and you may even take a wrong turn here and there.
You need to drop all the preparation and be in the present moment. The good news is that the right preparation makes it easier to trust the process and focus on making decisions that are in front of you TODAY.
It is also important to PRACTICE being in the present moment. This is not something that comes easily to us as humans. Meditation, mindful walking, or even just listening to a great song can all be ways to practice, so long as when you notice you’re distracted, you go back to focusing on what you’re doing, that is the practice.
In this way, entrepreneurship is like hiking a mountain, it requires preparation & planning, but then you have to drop it all and enjoy the hike.
With planning, preparation, and practise you’ll be a happy entrepreneur AND up that hill in no time.
2) Nourish Your Body & Brain
Today most people are overfed and undernourished, which lowers our energy, creates brain fog, and a whole host of other problems.
Yet, you wonder why you’re hitting snooze a billion times before getting out of bed? Or why tasks seem to take an inordinate amount of time? Or why you’re so tired at 3pm? – For the record, this used to be me.
So how did I fix it? I learned what my body likes, what it doesn’t like, and how to fuel it for peak performance.
The easiest hack I’ve found for this is making sure I’m getting enough nutrients with a green smoothie every day. Put whatever veggies you have in the house with some water, maybe some apple or berries, and blend till smooth. It takes 5min but gives you hours more energy for your day.
That is great ROI, which makes for a happy entrepreneur!
Food is literally fuel. You wouldn’t expect your car to run on fumes or junk, so why expect your body to?
3) Understand Minimum Effective Dose
Cardio, yoga, or traditional gym workouts are great if you enjoy doing them and can easily fit them into your day.
But let’s face it, as entrepreneurs it is often one of the first things to get bumped from the schedule. This is a shame because studies show that physical exercise has many cognitive benefits, including faster learning, improved focus, enhanced creativity, lower stress, better memory, and more stamina.
Who wants more of those?!? 🙋♀️
The problem with the usual workouts that we’re used to is they take up a good chunk of time and sometimes leave us feeling tired, which is not optimal for getting lots done.
This is where understanding “Minimum Effective Dose (MED)” is important. In his book, the Four Hour Body, Tim Ferris defines MED as, “the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome”.
In other words, it is the critical point beyond which everything else is not only wasteful but even counterproductive. For example, at the standard air pressure, water boils at 212°F (100°C). Higher temperatures will not make water more boiled, they will just consume more resources that might be used for something more productive.
Exercise is the same, and along with Ferris’ book, there is a great Mindvalley program called 10X that teaches how to stay healthy and strong in just 15 minutes of exercise, twice a week. My husband and I both did it and I love knowing that when I don’t have time to spend an hour on my mat, I have the tools to spend 15min and get a great workout.
A happy entrepreneur gets more done in less time without cutting the things that matter. Moving your body matters, you don’t want to build a business that you can’t enjoy because health issues start to come up!
4) Schedule Fun & Rest
There are two types of entrepreneurs, those that pack their schedule full of business to-dos and those that don’t schedule anything.
Neither of these methods work, especially if you want the work/life balance that makes a happy entrepreneur.
Scheduling your business priorities as well as fun, pleasure and family time is imperative for both progress AND stress management.
Start by making a list of your business priorities and then a list of all the things that make you feel happy and relaxed.
For example, if you want to feel joy, what situations make you the most joyful? Maybe it is taking your dog for a walk, or cuddling on the couch with your partner, or drinking a nice hot up of tea with a book.
Next, use these two lists to select your top biz priorities for the day/week to work on, and at least one fun/relaxing thing a day. Add them to your daily or weekly schedule and stick to it.
The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you get to decide what your non-negotiables are. At least one fun/relaxing thing a day is essential to being a happy entrepreneur.
Otherwise, what is the point?
5) Bookend Your Days with “No Device Zones”
When you wake up and check your phone, your time and attention are immediately hijacked. You’re bombarded with messages, emails, reminders, and advertisements that often create stress and anxiety, not the best way to start the day. Moreover, by starting the day distracted, you set the tone for a distracted day.
At the same time, when you expose yourself to the blue light from your devices in the hour before bed, you mess up your circadian rhythm, making your body confused about when it is time to sleep, which results in poor sleep quality. Not to mention the added stimulation when your brain needs to be winding down, often resulting in sleep delay.
How you start and end your day really sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you want to be a happy entrepreneur, take control here and you’ll naturally feel more work-life balance.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, with extremely burnt-out teachers and other public service employees as role models, entrepreneurs believe that burnout is the norm.
We were never taught how to stay present in the moment, how to nourish our body-mind so they can sustain our crazy pursuits, or how to workout using minimum effective dose so we can do so in 15-20min a week and stay strong and healthy.
Instead, these are called “soft skills” and pushed to the side. When I’m sure everyone will agree that they damn hard.
With the above tips for work life balance, you’ll feel great AND create more time for the things that matter most.
What if the best part of entrepreneurship was the journey? What if it is actually about enjoying the WHOLE process rather than racing to the “finish” line?
Business is a marathon, not a sprint. Be a happy entrepreneur, stop rushing and enjoy it!
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