Contractor’s Corner – Work-Life Balance

I wish I could tell you I have the secret formula for balancing the crazy schedule of an entrepreneur with the commitment to family, friends, health, and personal growth, but I don’t. So, I thought I would share what I do know: ultimately you have to do what is right for you and your situation!

Let’s start with running a business and being a motivated entrepreneur. Unfortunately, “the hamster doesn’t get off the wheel much.” I find myself always thinking about the company, clients, employees, growth, and opportunities. It is constant, there are always problems to be solved, areas to improve, and the ever-present opportunities that are waiting to be discovered.

The entrepreneur’s brain is often a chaotic place filled with post-it notes of what to do next and ideas that seem to come from every direction and conversation. I am a list guy, I write things down to get it out of my head, otherwise, it is like a never-ending loop of replaying all the things that must be done. Often you feel like you are missing something important, sometimes you are, but more often than not it is just your entrepreneur brain working overtime. For most entrepreneurs, their business is like their child, they created it, they want to protect it and see it grow and be healthy and strong, potentially if all goes right, it will become independent and continue on its own, without any direction from you. Spending time with something you love is fulfilling and it becomes easy to spend hours working not realizing time has passed. Seriously, a 12-16 hr day is normal and doesn’t feel like work when you are passionate and driven.

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely as you are always in your own head and family time can be impacted as business rarely stops. I find myself discussing business with my wife, my always patient listener, or my daughter, my sounding board for ideas. It can be difficult to slow down and be in the present, but it is important to set aside time to share with family and friends without thinking about business. I still struggle with this and there is truly always room for improvement. Ensuring you take time for the people who mean the most in your life is important. I know, for many entrepreneurs, working on our companies is one way we like to show our families how much we care for them. We are creating successful businesses for the security of our families and if we invest wisely, often we can leave something behind that can continue to provide for them when we leave this world. Of course, this is still not a substitute for quality time with family and friends! The date nights, game nights, camping, fishing trips, vacations, and anytime you spend with your family unplugged from work is critical to ensuring your family knows you care and are present.

Taking care of our mental and physical health can be a challenge, but if we don’t, we may have business success but be unable to enjoy it. If you don’t make time for yourself, you will sacrifice something that is impossible to purchase, your health. One thing I truly enjoy is playing hockey, it is 1 hour of turning my brain off to focus on the game! It’s a release for me – I can’t focus on making a pass or taking a shot if I’m worried about paying the bills. Another thing I enjoy is yoga as it helps me stay physically fit and flexible and I can focus on my physical presence through breathing and meditation. It may sound strange to some people to hear a 51 year old man practices yoga to care for his physical and mental health, but it is one of my solutions as an entrepreneur and I love it. Another activity I enjoy is hiking with my family and our two dogs (Nova & Reno). We take time on the weekend seeking out waterfalls in our beautiful province of Nova Scotia and the hike is always worth it! It brings us together in nature and helps to ground me for the week ahead.

Planning is a constant for an entrepreneur, and I plan my week carefully to maximize my time within my business. When you run a business, there is a small distinction between spreading yourself too thin and the right amount of time with your employees, clients, suppliers, and building relationships to ensure everyone impacting your business can perform at their best. I am very fortunate as we have built a company with amazing professionals who always have my back and look out for the best interest of our clients. This has taken a lot of time and energy to develop and maintain however, is definitely worth the effort!

I wanted to share my thoughts with you, so you know there is no secret sauce to work-life balance. It is up to each individual to find what works for them to ensure that the success gained through business results in the lifestyle they desire. I certainly do not have it all figured out, I struggle, fail, and try again. This is the mindset of an entrepreneur, never give up, just keep improving and moving forward. Do what works for you to remain balanced!

by Dan Monk