Thursday, June 26, 2014

Balancing Work & Life as an Entrepreneur

One of the hottest topics in business is that of managing work and life balance. It's the ultimate yin-yang of career and lifestyle, and far from being a solely a "personal choice," it is influenced by a number of factors such as geography, physical capabilities, available opportunities, gender differences, and technology. Entrepreneurship adds another layer of complexity into the balance.

The Difficulty of Finding Harmony at Work and at Home
On one hand, as an entrepreneur, the chances are that you are doing something you are deeply passionate about; something that is no longer "just a job," but more of a lifestyle choice. On the surface, it may seem that blurring the line between personal and business offers the best of both worlds; but therein lies the danger. Every extra hour you spend doing something to further your business may be bringing you closer to breaking apart your marriage, alienating your kids, and driving away your friends. In addition to threatening personal relationships, working 14-18 hour days and not making the time for exercise and healthy eating can, in turn, bring about mental and physical breakdown; which, ironically, will put at risk the continuity and survival of your business. Entrepreneurship may be the ultimate challenge in managing the time between your operating domains: self, family, community, and work.

Finding the Solution
There are plenty of online resources discussing the challenges of effective time management, regardless of whether one is an entrepreneur or not; as well as inevitable tradeoffs and sacrifices one has to make in order to be successful. However, few resources exist that actually provide objective and actionable insight to make work and self-time work. 

Stew Friedman's Total Leadership program is one such resource. Total Leadership approach starts with a self-assessment of your core values and aligning self-expectations with those of the people in your family, work, and community circles. This part can be a bit tedious and intimidating at the same time. However, by taking the luxury of time to escape the daily grind and reflect, you provide yourself with the ability to objectively assess everything that matters to you in the context of your core values and objectives. This will ultimately help drive better choices thereafter. Perhaps you'll discover that entrepreneurship is really not your goal. And perhaps you'll discover that it is. The point is, once you've aligned your values and expectations you will:
  1. See the path ahead clearer
  2. Start making small changes in your life to help drive you toward completion of your goals
  3. Get on the same page with the key stakeholders in your personal and professional life and get their buy-in in supporting your vision
  4. Become happier (based on the testimony of many graduates :))
Stew's Total Leadership class was one of the most valuable to me from Wharton MBA program because it had helped to build the foundation for ensuring a better work and life balance. The class is now also available on Coursera. Best of luck in making the meaningful choices in pursuing your dreams!

Rachel & the team

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