So many business owners strive for work-life balance. It is what many business owners want more than anything. Having your business set up in such a way that you can close the door on your business and open the door on your life is difficult to attain because it’s not a realistic way of setting about business. Business owners are more likely to be able to achieve work-life integration instead. To inspire you to stop chasing the elusive work-life balance, we encourage you to create work-life integration instead. Here’s how.
Don’t Deny Yourself Your Passion
You started your business because you fell in love with the idea of your product, service, solution, or just the idea of being a business owner. You want to work on your business and when you feel the pressure from the outside world to achieve “balance” that is when things get stressful. So the first rule of achieving work-life integration is to fully acknowledge how important your work is to you, despite how it might look to others, and allow yourself to love it fully rather than try to draw hard lines between work and “life.” Your work is your life, otherwise, you wouldn’t own a business.
Let Yourself be Happy
Many business owners feel alone in running their operations, no matter how big or small. It’s lonely when you decide to strike out on your own and create something new in the world. A lot of people in your life might not understand and might pressure you to “work less” or “take the weekend off.” In order to achieve work-life integration, you need to be okay with how much or little you work and allow yourself to be happy in those moments, no matter how infrequent or seemingly frequently those moments may be. If you let yourself enjoy your work and don’t let the opinion of others determine how much you work, you’ll be much better off.
Surround Yourself with Like-minded People
This isn’t new advice, but it is important advice. If you hang around with people who don’t love what they do, you’ll find that you are not loving what you do as much. Bitter, insecure, and ho-hum people can easily bring you back to the land of the lost if you don’t guard your “free time” with care. And when you surround yourself with people who like to talk shop as much as they like to hang out with each other, then you’ll never fall prey to that narrow-minded view that you have to separate your work and life. For so many business owners, they are one in the same, so stop trying to separate them out and learn to love them together. You might make your way to a coworking space or startup house to find people who are as passionate about their work as you are. The more time you spend with these people, the happier you will let yourself be.
Find Ways to Weave Life into Work
So many people are trying to find space in their lives for work, but have you tried doing it the other way around? What if you find time in your work for your life? What if you took a walk every day at lunchtime, or you met friends for tea on Tuesdays? What if you took your kid to dinner meetings or scheduled a presentation while on vacation? Who says that these things need to be separate? It’s your business, isn’t it? Don’t you get to run it any which way you see fit? That’s right. So stop beating yourself up about how you are not living a balanced life and be grateful that you are living a life that is so exciting that you don’t need a break from any of it. Work-life balance is for people who hate their work. When you love your work, you want to integrate your life into it. It’s a much more impactful way of being alive and running a business.
Take it Back
There’s no doubt that being a business owner is stressful, but when we let go of society’s expectations of how we should run our businesses, it becomes much easier to let ourselves enjoy the process. If you can, release yourself of any judgments you have about how much you work and instead of feeling bad about that, feel good about the work you do in the world and remember how important it is that you follow your passions. If you ever find yourself feeling lost in your business, or if you are feeling like you are being pulled in different directions, remember that you get to call the shots and decide where to take this business. If more personal time is what you want, carve it out. If you want to work on your business 16 hours a day, have at it. But do it on your own terms and make sure you are happy in the end. That’s how you achieve work-life integration. When your work makes you happy and you are happy to let it make you happy, you win.