I’ve said it before: work-life balance is a myth, ESPECIALLY in the life of an entrepreneur.
But I’m sure a lot of you are wondering why. What do I mean by that?
To be honest, I’m not against the idea of balance necessarily, but whenever I see the usual conversation around work-life balance crop up I get the feeling that everyone involved is asking the wrong questions.
Because the way most people approach the conversation breaks down one of two ways (and I’m going to get really brutally honest here, so hang tight).
Crappy bosses and managers frame the question as “how do I squeeze more work out of my employees without having to care about their lives?”
Crappy employees and freelancers frame the question as “how do I do the least work possible and have more of my life back?”
WRONG. In my opinion, both these questions are so fundamentally wrong.
Now sure, maybe there are people out there that can eke out a decent lifestyle while carrying those philosophies…but come on, man. Is that really the kind of life you want to live?
Do you really want to spend the rest of your life playing with a scarcity mindset? Do you really want to be jealously hoarding your resources and treating everyone you meet as a potential parasite?
If you’re a real entrepreneur, you should be shouting NO at the screen right now. You should be focused on putting more value into the world so you can get more value back as a reward. You should be filled to the brim with optimism and abundance.
And in order to do that, we need to completely reframe the way we look at “work-life balance.”
The Work-Life Relationship
The biggest thing the crappy boss and the crappy employee get wrong with their questions is that they pit life and work against each other, like two dogs fighting over a scrap of meat.
This is not just wrong (I’ll explain why in a moment) it’s also…weird. Sometimes I just don’t get why people look at things this way.
After all, why would you WANT to look at life and work as enemies? Doesn’t that put a huge limit on your overall happiness?
The reason why the work VS life model is wrong is that it’s an extension of the scarcity mindset. The only way that model makes sense is if you assume that world doesn’t have enough for everybody. Not enough time, not enough resources, not enough giving a damn…
Let’s go back to that mental image of two dogs fighting over a scrap of meat. If those dogs were smart, wouldn’t one of them just go look for another piece of meat? Or heck, maybe even find a friendly human who could set up a nice living situation for them.
But those two dumb dogs are going to keep fighting over the meat because they refuse to adapt. They can only see what’s directly in front of them – no past, no future, no ideas, no possibility, just short-term gain and scarcity.
YOU’RE A HUMAN. YOU HAVE A GIANT BRAIN AND OPPOSABLE THUMBS. YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO ADAPT TO ANYTHING.
So act like one! Or at least act like a smart dog (which might actually be smarter than a human…they’ve squeezed a pretty sweet deal out of us).
When you’re truly living with an abundance mindset, you realize that we are all capable of having wonderful lives and doing wonderful work at the same time.
Of course, neither of those things are going to happen automatically. You’ve got to have the right strategy and the right mindset for things to work out.
Let’s dive into that.
Balance Doesn’t Matter. Rhythm Does.
Another thing that people get wrong about work-life balance: they see it as carefully balanced scale where the plates have to always meet in the exact middle.
That may be an appealing fantasy…but life simply does not work that way. In fact, this mindset is a form of perfectionism, which usually pulls people AWAY from success, not towards it.
The truth is that life and business both have their own rhythms…a lot like seasons in nature. Each season presents its own unique problems and opportunities.
For example, I always think it’s insane when people talk about their businesses growing “too fast.” Dude, WHAT?!
The way I see it, that means your business is in a growth season, which means you and your team should be doing everything you possibly can to maximize that growth. You should focus on your big levers and save the fine details and structure for AFTER the growth season.
And of course life has its seasons too. There’s nothing wrong with pulling back from business a little bit if you need to deal with a major event like a pregnancy, or an illness, or a spiritual journey.
The thing is, if you try to maintain that perfectly balanced scale between work and life, you’ll always be playing a losing game. Worse, you’re going to use up all the focus and energy that you could instead spend chasing the big opportunities.
Now I’m not saying that everything needs to be total chaos…in fact, order is extremely important to this whole equation…
The Most Important One is…
The last thing that’s wrong with the idea of “work-life balance” is that it implies that work and life are equals.
They’re not. One of them is more important.
Can you guess which one?
Now I’m sure some of you are confused here, because you’re thinking that successful people ONLY care about work and that’s why they win.
In other words, they work ON the business, and they work HARD, but they don’t work IN the business.
Because the highest form of service you can offer to your family, your friends, your staff, and your clients is to build your business into a system that provides consistent value that goes beyond people’s expectations.
Everything I say on this blog about systems, automation, and delegation – the end goal is always for you to have a business that doesn’t rule your life. You can and should work hard on your business, but you also should have the freedom to walk away from it when you need to.
And again: this doesn’t mean you have to always keep your business and life in perfect balance. In fact, every successful entrepreneur can tell you that they’ve gone through periods of ALL work, because that was the only way to build systems that work.
So whenever you think about the future of your business or try to visualize what it should look like, let systems be your North Star. Always be looking for ways to make your business operations streamlined and repeatable.
And remember that your greatest moments in life will come when you’re operating within your vision: when you’re doing the work that you love, creating the change you want to see in the world, and have a business at your back that will take care of the trivial details and stand strong no matter how much chaos the world throws at it.
VISION, my friends, is where work and life meet up and you no longer have to worry about balancing anything.
Committed to your success,