Do you work to live or live to work? As a small business owner your work can become your life. Especially in this economic environment you may find you’re working around the clock just to keep ahead. It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that your business becomes your life. But even for the sake of success, maintaining balance is key. Have a life. Keep things in perspective. Breathe.
A non-stop laser focus on productivity can even become counter productive. Creative people - and entrepreneurs are quintessentially creative - often claim their best ideas come when, after intense focus, they “let go.” Archimedes’ Eureka - the creative spark - flashed while sitting in the bathtub. Watson and Crick’s Nobel Prize winning discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA was revealed to Watson in a dream.
You may find that while you’re relaxing or taking a leisurely drive in the country, that issue you’ve been wrestling with - the new marketing plan or employee issue - suddenly comes into focus. A solution that wasn’t previously on your radar emerges. You’re thinking outside the box.
These clearer perceptions emerge when you’re relaxed and in balance. Every day you’re focused for many hours on all the details - inventory, marketing, expansion, accounting, personnel. But to tweak these plans, to come up with simpler, more productive solutions, you have to balance the intense focus with a time out. Do the groundwork but then let go. Allow space for that moment of clarity when, like a kaleidoscope, new possibilities come into focus. This is how the really inspired solutions emerge.
Some tips for life in balance:
• Relax. Our society’s in overdrive. We’re bombarded with information and communicate 24/7 through phones, the Internet, social networking and face to face. But nature moves in cycles, day and night. Take some time to rest every day - even a short nap if needed. It will affect how you respond to your customers and staff. When you’re fresh, alert and receptive it radiates. Your passion shines thru. The effect is contagious. If you’re strained and irritable, people will respond to that. Everyone’s drawn to a positive atmosphere. Take enough time to rest at night. Take days off. Down time is quality time. It’s the springboard for greater expansion.
• Do something new just for fun. Have you ever tried kayaking? Line dancing? It may sound silly, but it may make you realize you’ve been stagnant, in a rut. Shake things up. Try something new you’ve always wanted to do. Do something you love. Don’t forget to live. This is not a dress rehearsal. Social events, community life, friends and relations add balance - and the networking effect is a plus.
• Surround yourself with beautiful things. It’s nourishing. When’s the last time you watched the sunset - or the sunrise for that matter? Drink in the starry sky. Your perspective will shift. Make sure your work environment is clean, organized and attractive, a place you, and others, feel comfortable in. Put up an awesome photo or two. Try going to an art museum or exhibit. Get inspired.
• Exercise and eat right. Okay, so you’ve heard it a million times. But it’s repeated for a reason. Subtle adjustments can lead to big payoffs. It’s not about stringent resolutions and drastic changes. Just favor the healthy choices. Eat a good breakfast and proportionate nourishing meals throughout the day to maintain your energy. Take a walk or take the stairs if you can. If you’re sitting for hours, get up and stretch from time to time. Breathe. Laugh. It’s common sense. It’s good for business. It’s good for life
• Be thankful. Be positive. Business owners have a great deal of freedom to create something memorable. Who doesn’t relish being his own boss? You’re doing what you love. You’re in an industry focused on beauty, happiness and making a difference in people’s lives. We all have many blessings. Count them.
At the end of the day, what’s it all for? When you look back on your life, will it be a life well lived? Enjoy. Life is not all about business. But we’re all in the business of life.