06 July 2007

Have a life outside of your business

We all get absorbed in our businesses and as I have discussed elsewhere in this manual, there is a need for this level of passion and commitment and for many entrepreneurs it comes naturally, but balancing your work life with your personal life can be difficult.

A few years ago I found myself running a growing business. Whilst it wasn’t the success I wanted it to be it was well and truly on the way. I had the philosophy that the harder I worked the closer I would be to realising the true potential of the business. So work I did, everyday I arrived around 6am and left around 7 or 8 at night. I worked seven days a week and I rarely took a day off. I think I became obsessed with what I was doing and this level of obsession is unhealthy. I gained a lot of weight, had a lot of stress, never exercised and I was always tired and run down. A changing point for me came when my sister died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 35. I realised that I was heading down the same path and I was only 33.

So I decided to change. It didn’t happen overnight and I have to work on it to this day. But now I feel that my life is far more balanced than it has been in a long time. I have lost about 50kg’s, I train with a personal trainer a couple of times every week, I do YOGA as often as possible and I feel great. I start work at about 8am most days, after having a good breakfast, something I never used to do. I leave the office by about 5.30pm most days and I always stop and have a good lunch. I rarely work on weekends unless it is absolutely necessary and then, only if it is work that I enjoy doing, like writing books.

I pack a lot more into my working day. I am busier now than I have ever been but I have very clear boundaries on where work starts and finishes and where my personal life starts and finishes. At first the hardest part was to remember what I liked to do – recreation was a strange feeling and one that I struggled with. So I made a list of the things that I really enjoyed doing – everything from going out to dinner, to seeing a movie, camping, fishing, reading and most normal types of recreational pursuit. I put this list in the front of my diary and whenever I was feeling lost about how to spend my time off I pulled out my list, picked out one of the things I really enjoyed doing and I did it.

Over time, my life has got back into balance and I feel great. I run my business better, there is a good chance that I will live longer. I have a lot more friends outside of my business world and they keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

We all need to have a life outside of our business as this is what life is all about. If you have forgotten how, make up your own list, work out how to spend less time at work, don’t hide behind the excuse that you have to be there. Really if you have to work seven days a week in your business is it really that profitable? Is it viable? Maybe you should be doing something else altogether.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY? If your life isn’t in balance the way you would like it to be, take the steps to change things today. Make a list of the things you used to enjoy doing (and to be even a little more in your face write next to each one the last time you did it). Ring the local gym and get a personal trainer. Do a course that interests you outside of your business. Remember radical changes like this tend to require a lot of work to make them stick. If you set unreasonable goals it is unlikely to happen so take small steps and work towards your ideal lifestyle.

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