By Sherry Lutz Herrington
Owning your own business means you are your business, and it is you. At the same time.
No matter how hard you try, you cannot separate your life from your business. It is your life.
Sometimes that means taking phone calls during your child’s soccer game or answering emails from the airport on your way to Barcelona. And that’s okay.
It might not seem healthy. It might seem better to turn off your phone the minute you leave the office. But let’s think about this for a minute.
What if you still worked that corporate job and had to be there in person for every minute of your working day? Would you even be able to make it to your kid’s soccer game or escape to Barcelona for a week with your family? Probably not.
As a business owner you may lament the fact that you are always on duty. That you’re tied to your phone 24/7. That you can’t ever really get away. And, yes, that’s probably true to some degree.
However, if you flip that on its head and think about it from the opposite point of view, you also have the freedom to take that phone anywhere you want to go.
Maybe you can’t do everything from your phone or maybe you can’t be out of cell range without truly marking yourself out, but the majority of the time you can.
Think about the last time you left the office to take care of something personal. Did anyone even know you were gone? Maybe your staff did, but if you work remotely, maybe they didn’t.
What about your customers? Do they even care where you are, much less need to know? If you run a brick and mortar and must show up to open the doors or close down the till at night, then sure, you have to be present during those specific times.
For a lot of business owners, the freedom exists to create your own best work/life.
I’ve heard talk about how work/life balance is a fallacy. That there is no such thing. Perhaps that’s true. And if it is, maybe that’s okay. Maybe we don’t need to separate them like we believe we are supposed to. Perhaps it makes more sense to be present and focused at work when you need to be and just be available the rest of the time. Still being as present and focused as possible during your personal time. After all, you don’t want to miss your kid making the game winning goal.
Healthy boundaries can help you get the best of both.
From the time you leave the office to the time the first game whistle blows, leave your phone on and take those work calls. Then for the duration of the game, let those calls go to voicemail. Once you get home and settle the MVP down with a snack, take a few minutes and follow up so when you get back to work in the morning you know where things stand and what needs to be done.
It might be trickier in some situations than in others, but thinking creatively and letting go of old stereotypes of what your workday “should” look like will free you to enjoy more of your life. Both at work and on the personal side.
It’s your business so it’s your life.
Don’t let the business run your life; keep healthy boundaries that ensure you don’t miss the critical moments. Find what works best for you without neglecting the business.
As a business owner you likely have a ton of work and could spend all your waking moments focused solely on building your company.
The question to ask is, is that all you want your life to be?
If it’s not, then decide what your other priorities are and how to integrate those into your days. Every day is an opportunity to decide where you spend your time. How you blend your business into the rest is up to you.
We are no longer tied to our desks, stuck in cubicles, or driven by long commutes. This is why you started your own business: freedom. So, take it. Decide what your work/life looks like and make it a reality. No one else needs to give you permission. No one will be checking up on you.
If visiting Barcelona is on your bucket list, put it on your to-do list and go enjoy it, even if you need to keep an eye on your emails or answer a few phone calls. You can still put an out of office message on your email and phone if you need a full-on vacation, that’s okay too.
Integrating your business into your personal life doesn’t mean never taking a well-deserved break.
Make time and schedule a complete unplug at regular intervals, too. Your business needs you at your best to thrive, and we all need to stop and sharpen the saw from time to time. But you are the one who gets to decide when that happens. Just be sure to make it happen.
You are your business, and it is you. How you run it is your choice. Throw out the rulebook and figure out what you want and how to make it a reality.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (www.strongwomenthriving.com), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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