Entrepreneurs believe a lot of hype when it comes to how to build their businesses. Some think that simply believing in yourself is enough to manifest your dreams and make your business a success. Others think entrepreneurs need to take a ton of risks in order to get ahead of the competition. But one of the most damaging beliefs I see entrepreneurs buying into is that they need to buy into the hustle culture and burn the candle at both ends to make their endeavor successful. Not only is this belief hurting them personally in the form of damaged relationships and compromised mental and physical health, it also just doesn’t work.
Balance vs. alignment
While the term “work-life balance” has been tossed around for years, I tend to think this is a misnomer. The areas of anyone’s life—let alone that of a busy entrepreneur—is never going to be completely balanced. Some days it will be all about family. Some days (or weeks), you may have to focus more heavily on work. And then there’s those weekends where it needs to be all about you.
Instead, what I like to encourage in those I work with is a work-life alignment. Alignment means you are identifying what you want your life to look like, then using your business as a catalyst to create the type of life you want to lead. Maybe this means being able to work from home so you can spend time with your young kids or freeing up your schedule so you can travel several times a year with your spouse. The point is, you need to see your personal and work life not only as intertwined but as one facilitating the other.
What happens when you’re out of alignment
When you don’t have alignment between your work and your personal life, you are in a constant tug of war. You make promises to yourself and to your loved ones that you don’t keep. You feel guilty when you’re at work because you should be at home, and guilty when you take a break because you think you should be at work. You’ll also find it much easier to buy into the hustle culture and start thinking that focusing 100% on work and staying late at the office for just a few weeks (months, years) is needed to build your business…and then you can pay attention to those areas you’ve neglected.
Well, it doesn’t work that way. Chaos begets more chaos, and it becomes more difficult to get off that hustle treadmill the longer you’re at it. Your health will suffer. Your relationships will fall apart. And all this will make it even more difficult to build the business and create the legacy you dream of.
So how do you achieve that golden goal of work-life alignment? The first step is to become really clear on what’s most important to you in life. If the first answer that pops into your head is ‘building a business’, dig deeper. Why is it important to build a business? Is it so you’ll have the money necessary to send your kids to college or give your wife the home you think she deserves? If it to show off to your friends or family members who never thought you’d amount to anything? In these scenarios, it’s pretty clear that your main “why” is not building a business. In the first case, it’s to provide a better life for your family. In the second case, it’s to prove your worth.
Once you know what’s really important to you, start assessing your work situation. Are your current practices facilitating your goal or taking away from it? What can you do differently? Do you need to create some business processes that automate tasks or outsource some jobs so you can be home before sunset every night? Or do you just need to have a good talk with yourself (or with a good coach who can kick your ass a little) to realize you’ve gotten nothing to prove to anyone but yourself?
Once you’ve created work-life alignment, many of the obstacles you’ve been experiencing will melt away and the road to success will look much clearer. Need some help along the way? Take my quiz to get started on realizing your potential and to discover tools you can access to help you achieve your goals.