It’s like the holy grail of entrepreneurship.
Most likely, you left your day job (or are thinking about taking the plunge) because you were looking for more…
You may even be wondering…
Is balance in life and business even possible?
And if so, is it sustainable or just a flash in the pan?
I hear you.
In the early days of my career, the perfectionist in me worked her booty off trying to achieve this pristine balance.
But with time and experience, I learned that achieving work-life balance is less about absolute balance and more like an ever-evolving balancing act.
Because when you think about it, nothing is ever fixed in balance.
Instead, successfully nurturing both your personal and professional life is a balancing act full of movement, changes, and readjustments (however subtle) that allow the perception of flow, ease, and steadiness.
A professional gymnast on the balance beam.
She’s likely spent years honing her craft, building strength, and executing her routines.
On the surface, her balancing act is seamless and fluid.
But if you could see what’s going on beneath the surface, you’d witness a whole bunch of tiny muscles and nerves firing constantly in different patterns to make that balance possible.
Then imagine you ask a young kiddo to hop on that same balance beam.
Without the experience of a seasoned professional, they’ll probably wobble– a whole lot!
They may lean one way and then the other to salvage it and avoid taking a spill.
Occasionally they may in fact fall off and have to reset. With time and practice, they’ll eventually find their balance without wobbling or falling as much, as they learn from their past attempts. If they stick with it long enough, they may even be able to make it look smooth, easy, and effortless.
Achieving that overall balance (with apparent ease) takes time, muscle memory, and constant recalibration. Some are just more practiced than others!
It’s the same as trying to achieve balance in your life and business.
Except instead of muscles, bones, and tendons, intentional actions and the gift of grace serve as the glue holding everything together as you strive for work-life balance.
It’s natural to experience some back-and-forth, where you prioritize your personal life over business in one season and then shift your focus to work in another. But, the secret is to realign and return to the center. Sometimes, you might need to overcorrect a bit, but by actively trying, you can rediscover that equilibrium.
How do I know?
I’m living proof.
And sure – the recovering perfectionist in me would LOVE it to ALWAYS be in absolute, unwavering balance.
But I KNOW that’s not realistic.
There are days when I have to lean into work, put in a couple of extra hours or take a last-minute call. And maybe in order to do that it looks like letting my husband take the kiddos to swimming lessons that day. Leaning on my support system in the moment lets me come back to center later so I can show up for meaningful moments like dance recitals and quickball games!
The truth is, we can’t be everywhere all at once. And we can’t be everything to everyone. There are times when decisions need to be made and tradeoffs need to happen.
That’s where the balancing act comes in.
And (spoiler alert!) you won’t always get it right. I certainly don’t!
In this blog, we’ll explore the 2 things that have helped me find and feel good about the overall balance in my life (even when it isn’t perfect) while allowing me to still achieve my definition of success as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, mentor, coach, and entrepreneur.
For me, it all comes down to intentionality and grace.
When it comes to work-life balance, being intentional means you’re not just going with the flow or responding to things as they come up. Instead, it’s about making deliberate choices and taking purposeful action to integrate your work and personal life.
You get to consciously decide what matters most and where you want to invest your time, energy, and resources based on the information you have at any given time.
COO Tip: Looking for guidance as you set some boundaries between your personal and professional life? Learn how to create and protect those boundaries now! Click here to read it on the blog.
Being thoughtful and intentional goes a LONG way to finding balance over time.
To bring more intentionality into your work-life balance, I encourage your to:
Let’s dig into each of these approaches to a balanced relationship with your personal and professional life.
Your time and energy are non-renewable, precious resources. Because they’re limited, you need to be aware of where they’re going and be intentional about how you direct them if you’re ever going to feel balanced in your life and work.
One of the best ways to do this is to look ahead!
It’s harder to achieve balance in life and work when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.
Taking the time to know what’s coming up in the next day, week, or even the next month can help you budget your time, map out a realistic schedule, and ensure that you can put your energy where it matters most.
As you look ahead, consider the big picture and put things in context. Keep in mind, we’re looking for overall balance AND overall success here, so you’ll need to use your discretion.
For example, the end of the school year is an incredibly hectic time for my family! Between end-of-school assignments, fun runs, field days, graduations, and recitals, our calendar is jam-packed!
To show up for my son and daughter, my husband and I prioritize family during this season. I intentionally try not to take on any additional tasks above and beyond my normal workload so that I can be present instead of frazzled (I’ve definitely learned this the hard way).
Looking ahead lets you approach work and life commitments proactively so that you’re never a victim of circumstances.
There’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter work-life balance.
Some people feel balanced when 80% of their time is focused on work and 20% on their personal lives. For others, it’s the complete opposite!
Balance means something different to each person, and can even shift throughout your life and career.
At any given point you can identify your personal balancing point by keeping these three things in mind:
Once you’ve identified these three things, consider the trade-offs, compromises, and consequences you’ll need to come to terms with to make those things priorities, hold those boundaries, and ultimately find success as you’ve come to understand it.
That being said:
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Just because something’s gotta give, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to failure or that you have to compromise in the same way everyone else does. Allow your creativity to help you here as you find innovative solutions!
Then do your best to make the most aligned decision moving forward.
And if that priority, boundary, or definition of success does require leaning far one way or the other, consider what you can do to course correct and lean in the other direction to bring it back into balance over time.
Finally, I’ve found that an excellent way to intentionally show up in my life and business is to focus on the quality of the time I spend on each area of my life rather than the quantity.
This has never been more relevant for me than right now!
We’re in a crazy stage of family life right at the moment.
You get the gist.
In this season of life (and business) we’re all constantly running in 10 million different directions.
And I’ll be honest:
There are days when we barely get an hour together after work or school that isn’t filled with an activity or commitment.
Sometimes that portion of time is relegated to time in the car; often, it’s over dinner.
But…I find that if we’re intentional it still feels like a priority. That’s because those moments are full of actual conversations, shared stories, and laughter (yeah…the phones don’t always get put aside, but I do find that helps).
I’ll also be the first to admit that we’ve spent entire lazy days next to each other, but all wrapped up in our own worlds or preoccupied with other things. To me, those unintentional days when I didn’t pour into ANY of the areas of my life in a significant way are the days that leave me feeling most off balance.
I share this to remind you, that while your time is limited, you have control over the quality of time you spend in your personal life and your business.
Focus on being as present as possible with whatever time you have available whether you’re with your family, a client, team members, or friends.
The second key to achieving a sustainable work-life balance as a creative entrepreneur is to slather on the grace!
As CEO, no one is going to do this for you. It’s up to YOU to give yourself the space and patience you need to make mistakes, get up, dust yourself off, and try again.
You can start extending grace to yourself by keeping your expectations and standards reasonable and realistic.
As a creative entrepreneur, I’ll bet you’re ambitious.
And while the high standards you set for yourself may push you to new levels professionally and creatively, they also have a pesky way of backfiring.
Pursuing your own creative business and blazing new trails, often means you will not and cannot meet everyone’s expectations. You’ll likely have to disappoint someone, somewhere along the way– and likely more than once!
While this is uncomfortable and, of course, isn’t your intention, it often comes with the territory when you decide to create a business that fulfills your values, goals, and needs first and foremost.
If you are a people-pleaser in any sense of the word, this may be one of the biggest challenges you face in entrepreneurship.
Setting realistic standards for yourself might look like saying no to the wrong opportunities so you have the space to say yes to the right ones!
Ultimately, you will learn that letting down others may be the price you pay for not disappointing yourself.
At the end of the day, make sure you feel proud of the choices you’ve made.
Whoever said television was a waste of time…
Wasn’t watching Ted Lasso!
((my all-time FAVORITE show!))
My next piece of advice for giving yourself grace comes from none other than Ted himself.
In the show, the phrase “be a goldfish” is used by the iconic main character as a way to encourage his players to let go of the past, focus on the present moment, and not dwell on failures or setbacks in life or on the football pitch.
Why a goldfish, you ask?
Well, goldfish are often associated with having a short memory span…
“You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory.” – Ted Lasso.
So by being a “goldfish,” Ted encourages his team to move forward without being weighed down.
As you navigate your version of work-life balance, I encourage you to be a goldfish.
Because you’re gonna mess up!
I can guarantee, even when you try to be as intentional as possible about balancing your work life and your personal life you’ll still…
While it’s important to learn from the past, sometimes it can be easy to beat ourselves up unnecessarily.
Instead, when (not if) these unbalanced moments arise, channel that inner goldfish.
Learn, grow, shake it off, and do better next time!
After all, balance is a practice, not a perfect.
So, just keep swimming!
I hope this blog inspires you to pursue the ever-changing practice of work-life balance as a creative entrepreneur.
It’s not only possible, it’s sustainable!
Being intentional about where you focus your time and energy is an ongoing effort, but with grace, you can prioritize your work, loved ones, and yourself without sacrificing business success.
As a reminder, I’m always in your court, cheering you on along your entrepreneurial journey.
If I can ever be of service, reach out! I personally respond to every single email I receive! Shoot me a line to share your biggest work-life challenge right now by emailing me here.