A Surprising Discovery About Work-Life Balance
On any given day, ask just about anyone the question “how’s it going?” and the response is likely to be…
Oh… life has been very calm
I’m feeling so peaceful
It’s been kind of quiet.
More often we hear…
Don’t know where the time is going!
Great to see you! Gotta run! I’m late!
Most of us live our lives at break-neck speed, always “on,” rushing from one place to the next, working, taking care of family, and all the myriad activities and tasks that tend to be greater in number than hours in a given day. Whew! Even that run-on sentence is exhausting. 😉
It’s no wonder the topic of “work-life balance” is so popular. But why do so many of us think in terms of “balance”?
Work-Life Balance Is a Myth
Wikipedia defines work-life balance as “a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).”
Question is… who decides what “proper prioritizing” is? What you prioritize might not be what your spouse / parent / son / daughter / brother / sister / friend / employer would prioritize for you.
The thing is… work-life balance doesn’t really exist.
It’s a myth. A fantasy. There’s nothing to “balance” because life is… life. Life is all of whatever makes up your existence. “Balance” implies that your work and your life(style) are separate. It creates sort of an opposing expectation, doesn’t it? But work is a part of life, and life includes working.
So instead of talking about a nearly-impossible-to-achieve concept…
Let’s. Get. Real.
The Solopreneur Life
When you live your life, which includes work, there’s no balance. Even if you work at home and are present and available to those who may need you at any given time, things are never going to be balanced.
Whatever you’re doing in any given moment means you’re not doing something else in that same moment. And when you’re passionate about your work, like most solopreneurs are, the rest of your life may become “out of balance” at times.
Even with the occasional imbalance, when you love your work and are passionate about what you’re doing every day, you’ll feel a wonderful sense of satisfaction. Why? Because part of what you would choose to do in your “off time” is the same as what you’re doing when you work.
You plan, think, strategize, imagine, daydream, solve problems in your head. And you love it. Your passion for your business begins to weave into and become part of your life.
Solopreneurs think about their business not in terms of a constant need to give their business their all every single day, but as having the ability to temporarily pause or pivot as life directs. It’s understood that there will be ups and downs due to the sheer nature of life. Some days will call for attending more fully to family, others for attending more to business.
Of course this freedom could become a slippery slope when you’re trying to build and grow a business. Discipline, dedication and making enough time to have an impact on your business must be factored in when you make those family-centric decisions.
One way to make sure you’re moving toward your life goals is to ask yourself “will the choice I’m about to make be best for my business and family in the long run?”
The solopreneurial path is one that calls for constantly reassessing what is the best decision you can make right now for long-term success. Solopreneurs have more options about when to work, what to work on, how long and how hard.
There’s real, intrinsic value when you’re able to design a business to accommodate your life, and not the other way around.
You create a business that works within your life. If you have a family situation that requires more of your time, being able to work from home (or just about anywhere) provides flexibility and control.
Your business can “work around” the hours your children are in school or sleeping. It can work around time spent helping an aging parent, a sibling with health issues or a friend who just broke a leg. Whatever is going on that’s not related to your business can potentially be attended to all while you continue to grow your business.
According to the Women’s Business Center, 61 percent of women business owners use technology to integrate the responsibilities of work and home. The use of technology to manage all responsibilities is potentially even higher than 61% for solopreneurs. Think desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smart phones, video monitors, synced calendars and so on.
The 9-5 Life
Conversely, others believe a 9-5 job gives their life “balance.”
For most, there’s “the work day” and then there’s “the rest of their life.” That’s great, provided there’s that deep level of (job) satisfaction. And also provided the 9-5 is not actually 9-6, -7, -8 or later.
If you find yourself working long hours (especially if you don’t like it) for someone else, eventually things will begin to feel less balanced. Something will suffer. You’ll need to figure out how to combine job success and satisfaction with your desired level of commitment to family and other obligations. Easier said than done, right?
The reality is, some things are sacrificed whether you’re building your own business or working a traditional job. Solopreneurs integrate work and everyday life. 9-5ers are away during the day (or night if working night shift) and are more available to family and friends after work. But options for taking time off are typically very limited when outside needs arise during 9-5.
Did you notice the word “integrate” in the last paragraph? Doesn’t that sound more achievable than “balance”?
Integration. Or fusion, merging, blending — use whatever term makes the most sense to you. The point is, for solopreneurs, work and life become integrated. Work is eventually woven into every area of your life. There’s no work vs. life. There’s simply “life,” in which the people you love and the work you do blend together.
The more all parts of our lives merge, where work and home are no longer separated by some imaginary wall, the quest for an unreachable balancing act dissipates.
If you’re currently in a “9-5” job, integrating work and life might not even appeal to you (at least at first). Why? Because as many folks think, at the end of the day, work can be shut off and the rest of your life can be enjoyed until the next shift.
Or it may not seem possible to do anything other than the 9-5. It’s all you know, what you’ve always done. What your parents did.
But what about the time spent commuting, being gone all day from little ones, putting in extra hours, wage freezes, downsizing threats and all that comes with “working for the boss”? Is that really what you want? Until retirement?
Are the job choices and resulting sacrifices you’re making today moving you towards a goal or vision for your future? Sometimes, you have to walk away from “what you’ve always done” in order to achieve goals in other areas of your life. We’ve all heard common regrets from folks who stayed in a job they disliked for many years…
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life I designed, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard for someone else’s gain.
If your work is just a “job,” eventually it will “feel” like it’s pulling you away from someone or something important. If you work at a job that you care deeply about, however, then the 9-5 life may be perfectly suitable for you.
Is Solopreneurism Right for You?
Frequent evaluation of priorities, goals, family needs, personal health and all the rest of the areas that make up one’s life will help identify whether the solopreneur journey is right for you. After all, isn’t this about making choices that are the best for the time and circumstances of your life? And living in a way that makes you feel happy and fulfilled?
As a solopreneur, you can approach each day with excitement and enthusiasm, having the option to work long hours as you launch a new product, or tend to a child home from school for the day. You’ll find more satisfaction in whatever you’re doing at the moment — weaving work and life together like a beautiful hand-stitched quilt. Each choice you make brings you closer to the life you want.
We need to go for a work/life merge, where we’re honoring both worlds without feeling burdened by either.”Kara Baskin, The Six Work/Life Balance Habits Of Resilient People
Changing Paradigms Even in BigCos
Even BigCos are taking a hard look at the way employees are required to work, especially those who care about the health and well-being of their workforce (yes, there are some).
Most 9-5 workers today feel overwhelmed, like they’re just trying to survive (rather than thrive), struggling to manage the boundaries between work and the rest of their lives.
One of the upsides of the technological advances we touched on earlier is being able to connect anywhere, any time. Because of this, telecommuting is on the rise. Sure, not all jobs lend themselves to working at home some of the time but for those that do, businesses are looking at it, testing it, or already allowing it.
Productivity reports about telecommuters are encouraging. Workers report less stress, getting more work done, improved family relationships, and gaining a new perspective that helps them become better workers. The jury is still out when it comes to conclusions on effectiveness but the point is…
The culture of work/business has evolved into a new paradigm — which supports a different human paradigm.Meghan M. Biro,5 Reasons To Kill The Work-Life Balance Myth
So What’s Your Ideal Lifestyle?
The possibility of becoming a solopreneur essentially revolves around your goals and life circumstances. And the beauty of being alive today is that this route is more possible than ever. It can be a truly wonderful way to…
1) own your life
2) earn enough, and
3) be happy
We all have a thermostat that’s set to an ideal lifestyle, and we all know that includes working. The solopreneurial path gives the best chance for achieving maximum flexibility, independence, control and freedom. Is it for you? Only you can answer that!
So you might be wondering how to improve on this irresistible quest to achieve the near-impossible. Bottom line is, you can’t. BUT, you can maximize efficiency in the way you work. And that efficiency means time saved that can be used to better monetize and grow your business.
The solution? Solo Build It!.
Solo Build It! (aka “SBI!”) is the only all-in-1 package of step-by-step process, software tools, comprehensive guidance, 24/7 support and “auto-updating” that enables solopreneurs to build profitable online businesses.
In short, auto-updating delivers 100% business-focused efficiency. SBI! saves you hundreds of hours per year, time that you put into your business!
Doing it right and staying focused are why SBIers succeed way more often than other solopreneurs.
The roads we regret are not the ones we try. Wondering what could have been is what causes us to regret. Wishing you the very best in the outcomes of your work, family and life decisions.