I hear a lot about work-life balance these days and the need to manage a balance for the sake of our mental, physical and emotional health. And I agree wholeheartedly that we need to be mindful of our activity to ensure we take care of ourselves, after all, without our health we really don’t have anything. However, as a woman business owner in the construction industry, this, on some days, seems near impossible. And yes, I think specifying a woman business owner in the industry is relevant here. Or a woman business owner in any male dominated space is relevant. Because as women in a male dominated space, whether it is true or not, we believe we need to work twice as hard to gain half the credit - we’re already starting out working too much and too hard in an effort to prove ourselves worthy of being in this industry.
Whether we like to admit it or not, women are still typically, considered
the primary care giver in the home. So, in addition to running a business they also have the responsibility to manage the family – school, homework, meals, cleaning, appointments, after-school sports, weekend tournaments, not to mention the social-emotional health of your kids, birthday parties and holidays among many other things. As business owners women have a comparable task list and more for managing their team, or even worse for themselves if they are operating on their own. Then we tell them that they need to make sure to take care of themselves first, self-care is critical to being the best version of yourself, so you can be present for those that you love and pour from a full cup. Exercise. Meditate. Journal… it’s all too much!
Then we feel guilty – thinking about work when we’re at home and thinking about home when we’re at work. Never really able to be present and feeling like we suck at everything. This can lead to a constant feeling of stress and anxiety, which can make it difficult to focus on either our business or our personal life.
It doesn’t take much happening outside the regular managing of our lives to feel completely overwhelmed. Operating on the edge of sanity until one little unexpected event occurs and the whole thing comes crumbling down. We crack. We break. Then we pick ourselves up again and keeping pushing on. Smile like everything is ok, never daring to look vulnerable or ask for help. Can you relate? I tell this story so clearly because it was me. Juggling all the things in my head that I have to do, that I would like to do, that I “should” do, that I forgot to do at home and in my business. It is exhausting. So, what is the solution?
IS THERE A BALANCE THAT EXISTS? Work-life balance doesn't mean that work and personal life will be, or even should be perfectly equal all the time. This expectation can sometimes lead to a sense of conflict or tension between work and personal life. Instead, I like to call it work-life harmony where the two are viewed as a fluid and flexible concept, where you focus on integrating work and personal life in a way that is mutually beneficial and complementary and you can adjust the balance according to your needs and priorities at any given time. Rather than separating the two, work-life harmony recognizes that work and personal life are interconnected and seeks to create a synergy between the two. It involves finding a rhythm or flow that allows an individual to effectively manage their responsibilities while still being present for the people and things that matter to them. Understanding there is a high and low season in the business and at home and learning to manage the wave of each is critical in maintaining your sanity. Reminding yourself of what is actually important and not letting the small things turn into big things. The reality is, as a business owner your business is often a very big part of your life and to separate the two can make it more challenging to be effective at both.
Learning to manage your work and life allows you to perform your work more effectively, while still finding time for personal hobbies, interests, and relationships. Moreover, it is important to understand that finding harmony between your work and life is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual has different circumstances, priorities, and goals, and finding a balance that works for them is crucial.
Although I know it can be too much to think about, the truth is you really do have to prioritize yourself. We are no strangers to working long hours and being on the go all the time. However, if you continue to run and serve everyone else without taking time to take care of yourself, you will burn out. It is not sustainable. You will become resentful, even to those you love.
The key to long-term success is finding harmony and flow between your work and personal life and that means:
Setting healthy boundaries,
Making time for things that matter (also known as self-care),
Delegating responsibilities, and
Helping team members strike their own work-life harmony.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail to see how you can incorporate the ideas into your own life.
SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES One strategy you can use to harmonize your work and personal life is setting boundaries. Boundaries are the “rules” you have for your life. According to behaviourist and author of the book Designing Genius, Amilya Antonetti, your boundaries are establishing the things you should and should not experience in your life to live your best life.
For example, you should not overbook yourself. Allow yourself blocks of time for your work and for your free time. Leave enough space in your schedule to effectively manage both work and personal time. Another example is you can make it clear to your team members or employees that you will not be available outside of work hours, except in emergency situations. This will allow you to prioritize your family and friends, and to make time for the things you love outside of work without feeling guilty or stressed. You will find that taking breaks from work and focusing on other aspects of your life will actually make you more productive and focused when you return to work.
Communicating your boundaries to others is necessary, you can’t expect them to read your mind, especially if this is a new way for you to be operating. Explain that you are making changes for your health and well-being, make this about you, not them.
MAKING TIME FOR THINGS THAT MATTER (AKA SELF-CARE) I recommend making it a priority to take care of yourself. I know it took me a lot of years, way too many years of pushing through and doing it all and heading directly into burn-out before I considered making this a part of my daily routine. And what I mean by “making this a part of my daily routine” was that I considered maybe I “should” start prioritizing myself and then I took baby steps to see how it could work. After all, I was not used to doing it and it was uncomfortable and easily forgotten. It took effort and intention, and to this day it still takes a lot of work and I’m still not very good at it. However, I do recognize the value and the need. I notice the difference when I take time for me and the people around me notice a difference too.
We think that we’re being selfish by taking time for ourselves. We think that doing everything on our own and being asked “how do you do it all” is a badge of honor we wear. It is not. It is not sustainable and the stress that comes with it is not worth it. Let me tell you now, stop and take care of you first. By taking care of yourself first you will actually be present with your loved ones and have something to give. I hate to say it, but it is true, taking care of you means you can pour from a full cup.
You can incorporate healthy habits into your routine, such as exercise and meditation, yes, those ones that we roll our eyes at when people mention what we “should” be doing. Another truth is exercise and meditation help you to manage stress and maintain a positive mindset. You will find that taking care of yourself not only benefits you personally, but also benefits your business by increasing your energy and focus.
Self-care refers to any activities or practices that you undertake to support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In addition to the ones mentioned above, here are some other options to consider:
Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for physical and mental health, so making sure to get enough rest is crucial for self-care.
Eating a healthy diet: Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help support physical and mental health.
Spending time with loved ones: Spending time with family and friends can help provide emotional support and reduce stress.
Taking breaks and time off: Taking regular breaks and time off from work can help reduce stress and prevent burnout.
Pursuing hobbies and interests: Engaging in activities that bring joy and pleasure can help reduce stress and improve mental well-being.
There are many other options for self-care, and it is important for you to find what works best for you. It can also be helpful to incorporate multiple self-care practices into a regular routine to ensure a holistic approach to your well-being.
DELEGATING RESPONSIBILTIES Another strategy that can be effective for finding harmony between work and life is delegating responsibilities. When you can learn to trust your team and delegate responsibilities to them, it allows you to focus on the big picture of your business, rather than getting bogged down in day-to-day operations. Letting go of managing everything and realizing that even if your team does it differently than you, it doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong. Be open to the idea that maybe others could even do a better job. Delegate everything that you can. Make a list of what only you can do, then delegate the rest. The sooner you can delegate all your tasks, the sooner you can take over the role of CEO in your business and that’s when true freedom is possible.
HELPING EMPLOYEES STRIKE THEIR OWN WORK-LIFE HARMONY
I believe it is essential for business owners to acknowledge the importance of work-life harmony and support their employees in finding their own balance because happy and healthy employees lead to a more productive and successful business. Where possible you can provide your employees with flexibility and autonomy to work from home, take time off when needed, and balance their work and personal commitments. Understanding what their priorities and goals are for their own work-life harmony and working with them to see how together you can meet both the needs of the business as well as the needs of the employee. Doing so will help create a positive and supportive work environment and contribute to the long-term success of your business.
By setting healthy boundaries, taking care of yourself, delegating responsibilities, and supporting your employees in finding their own work-life harmony, you can create a work environment that is in harmony with your personal life. Understand that finding this harmony is an ongoing process that requires flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to adjust as circumstances change and is not something that can be achieved overnight. Recognize that there will be times when work demands more of your attention, and other times when you can prioritize her personal life more. And by making a conscious effort to find the harmony, you can build a successful business while also enjoying a fulfilling personal life.
Want to break through the barriers to your best business? Are you ready for things to be different, to accept help from others that have been where you are, and successfully made it through to the other side? Are you about ready for some relief of the constant pressure? Wanting more time in your week so you can focus on your business and carve the path as to where you’re going? If this is you and you are ready, get in touch to schedule your free consultation by filling out our online needs assessment today at www.ThriveHQ.ca. Because there is a better way.