Forget Balance, Embrace Happiness

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I get annoyed when I hear people using this buzz word, “balance”, as though it is the ultimate goal in life.   For entrepreneurs, the reality is that your personal life is intimately intertwined with your work.  And balance isn’t something we see much of. My husband and I owned a coffee roaster and cafe for eight years.  In year two, we decided we should expand our space and do a renovation in our cafe….. ourselves…...while I was 6 months pregnant with our first child.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s buy our first house and move into it.

I figured it was better to get it all over with at once.  Luckily, ignorance and optimism were on our side.  Balance was not.

Then there were some *boring* years. You know, having a second baby, doubling our wholesale business, rebranding our entire cafe and packaging.  Just some minor things going on.

Things were going great.

But in typical form, I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

In the past 6 months we’ve sold our business, started new ones, had a third baby, sold our house and are moving across country.   With three kids under five….. including a newborn.

Are we off the deep end, or brave? Potato or potahto?

It is all about your perspective and attitude.  It is definitely not about balance.

Entrepreneurs aren’t wired to have balance, otherwise we would have never ventured into this chaotic life.   We are wired to have big dreams, take risks, bite off more that we can chew and believe things will work out.  These are unique characteristics that make us different than the general public.

Moms that are entrepreneurs are even more unique.  They typically juggle all the demands and risks of the business, alongside the demands of a family and household.  A woman who is prepared to take on all this would be delusional if she thought balance was the goal.

Some would argue that having children and striving for balance would be ridiculous as well.  But pile on top of that owning a business and you’ve got just flat out crazy.

The desire to own a business stems from somewhere deep inside.  It usually stems from passion and excitement rather than logic and reason.  If you are willing to take this on in addition to having children, you most likely wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why should we MPFs let go of the idea of balance?

When I hear the word balance, I think “boring.”  The definition itself is boring.

bal·ance

ˈbaləns/

noun

  1. a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

I like excitement.  When things are going smooth, I start thinking of the next big project I should pursue.  God forbid I leave well enough alone.  I can’t escape the constant quest for the next big, fun and exciting project, both in my business and my personal life.

Being a female entrepreneur with a family isn’t about balance.

But it is about happiness.

How do we approach finding happiness amid the chaos of MFP life?

You need to set goals for your business and personal life at the same time.  Because one hinges on the other.

You chose to be a business owner for the freedom and control over what you’re doing.   Make sure you’re actually doing that.

The first step that most business owners in general need to start doing is goal setting.  Yes, we’ve all got our goals floating around in our heads but put that shit on paper!

We’ve heard it, but I’m not messing around.  You need to set goals and WRITE THEM DOWN!  The step that is so crucial to MFP happiness is including your personal life in the goals.

As owners of our own businesses, we don’t just consider profits or what is best for the company.  We also consider what is best for us and our families.  What will keep us happy so that we can continue to run our business?

For many of us, our work schedule directly affects our happiness.   What hours and days do you want to work?

You started this business for a reason, and most likely it wasn’t to spend your entire life working.  But you have chosen to be a working parent.

So how do you want your schedule to work with your family life?  Do you have childcare, do you work during school hours, maybe four days a week is ideal for you.   Maybe traditional 8-5 hours are perfect, or possibly you work nights after putting kids to bed.

What ever structure that you want is the one you need to strive for.  Sometimes this means making a goal for a few years out and then mapping out the steps to get there.

I owned a coffee shop in a tourist town.  After years of working weekends and holidays I decided I no longer wanted that schedule for my life and my family.

If I were only thinking of the company's needs I wouldn’t see a need to change anything.  Things ran great.  I was a good manager.  Customers loved interacting with me.

But I didn’t want to do it any longer.

Unfortunately I couldn’t just change it the next week.  But I could set the goal  (on paper!) to change it in the coming year.

I then had to work backwards from the goal to say what needs to happen to get to my goal; to replace myself as manager.

  • Document all the responsibilities I had that would be transferred to that person.
  • Write up position description
  • Work a manager’s salary into my staffing budget
  • Hire for that position
  • Train in new person

You can see that this is a great idea.  But there is a lot of work that needs to go into accomplishing this goal.

Each quarter I chipped away at the components until the ultimate goal of changing my schedule was reached.  I was much happier when I was able to change it and so was my family.  Success.

Action Item:

Write your goals down for your business and personal life in three years and in one year. Work backwards to map out what you need each quarter to accomplish these goals

My goal this coming year is to work four days per week (Fridays off),  and be done with work by 3pm every day.  That way I have time with kids after school and to cook dinner.  Three things that bring me great happiness: work, family, food.

Get started today on making your life happier, don’t worry about balance.

What are your goals for happiness?  Share with me, I’d love to know.

Cheers,