By Todd Brand, an EO St. Louis member.
A friend of mine once told me that my checkbook and my calendar tell my story. They do. I value golf a lot, in dollars and in time.
Golf is a funny thing. It must be read about, practiced, played for four or more hours, driven to and from, shopped for and watched on TV. If you don’t play golf, you probably have something just as addictive in your life. For a lot of entrepreneurs, that addiction may be work.
If work is a given, which for most of us it is, and it takes a good half of our waking hours, what goes in the non-work/non-golf column of our lives? If you were to ask me, I’d say with a straight face that God and family are my number one and two priorities. Yet, if you want proof, my checkbook and calendar may make an argument against me.
Sadly, I know the challenge to balance my life with my work is a battle I’ll frequently lose. But there is hope. I believe that hope can be realized by an easy-to-understand yet difficult maneuver: Invert your life. Do first what your heart and your mouth say is the most important. Schedule your non-business calendar first.
As entrepreneurs, we tend to justify our hectic lives by pretending that the world will stop rotating if we stop working. Often times, in fact, we find that as we balance our lives, our productivity actually increases. While difficult to prove, is it not true that we are more confident, more consistent, happier and better leaders of our organizations when our life is healthy across all areas? Who doesn’t know a financially successful entrepreneur whose life is in tatters?
If my actions are brought into alignment with my true goals, balance is more likely to be achieved. We naturally crave a balanced life; the challenge is living it. When is the last time you heard a friend say that he wished he could avoid his family by traveling more frequently and working on Sundays? You won’t hear it.
We all want a balanced life and, generally, we know what must be done to achieve it. The challenge is acting upon what we know is best.
There are no fix-it-alls; just simple actions. In fact, I’m guessing you have your own ideas that will work for you. The simple actions that I choose to take serve as indicators to me and my family that I take my non-work/non-golf life seriously. Sometimes, I find that three minutes of conversation with my wife can balance my afternoon. Occasionally, I find that three days are necessary.
Long-term balance outside of business provides us with the motivation and creativity in our businesses to achieve more than we could by working more anyway. Business success doesn’t taste as sweet when everything else in life becomes the sacrifice for it. But I’m betting you knew that before I wrote it.
HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE THINGS THAT HAVE HELPED ME MAINTAIN BALANCE
- I hard-code six or more “long weekends” on my calendar by the first week of January. I have something to look forward to, and it alerts my staff to keep those days free.
- I try to call my wife, a family member or a friend each day at lunch or while driving. It helps me smile and gives my brain a much needed break.
- Regularly, I like to meet my family for lunch. This pays for itself ten times over.
- I like to leave an hour earlier from work one day each week to surprise somebody. Those closest to me seem to value that hour more than any other.