Two themes come up frequently in my conversations with and reading about other entrepreneurs-work/life balance, and ‘the bottom line.’
The first doesn’t exist, and the second is not why you’re in business.
If you’re in business for the right reasons, you love what you do; it’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. Of course you love your family; of course you have other interests besides work. No respectable person puts work ahead of family; no reasonable person only has one interest, to the exclusion of all others.
But you’d better love what you’re doing, especially if you’re self-employed. Honestly, why would you hire yourself to do a job you don’t like?
So, let’s assume that your work is just another manifestation of your passion.
Do you really expect to take it off and put it on like a sweater? And what does it have to do with money?
Sometimes I work late into the night, missing some family time because I’m in the zone. Sometimes. But, just as often; more often, actually, I take time in the middle of a ‘business day’ to spend time with my wife, my daughters, my friends. I take time, right in the middle of the week, away from work and the office, to share in spiritual activities with my family. I stop work at 4:00 most days to work on an album of jazz songs I’m writing with my older daughter; then, I go back to what I was doing. Or, I don’t. I keep my goals loose and flexible where possible, so I can decide how to spend my time.
Work/life balance means being balanced in my own head, not balanced on a clock or calendar.
And money? C’mon; I’d do 90% of what I’m doing right now, even if I had enough money to retire. I love writing. I love coaching solo professionals, writers, musicians, helping them communicate with their prospects and fans better to establish trust and build relationships. I love my web business; sorting out what’s needed, designing tools, doing usability studies, helping clients build what they really need instead of what they think they need. (Okay, if I really had money, I’d offload the coding to someone more talented than me.)
I love to barter. If someone has a skill I can benefit from, and they need something I can do, I want to work with them. What I don’t want is to turn our genuine human caring into a commercial enterprise. Fer cryin’ out loud; the whole point of my consulting business and my writing is to do exactly the opposite, to get businesses to be more human, to stop behaving like abstract entities with no soul, and start speaking and trusting and caring like real human beings do.
Work/life balance is how you choose to serve yourself and the ones you love, every minute of every day; choices about the long run, not the moment.
And, in the long run, it’s not about money. Not ever.