When was the last time you took a vacation? Did you unplug from your business? No cell phone, no email, no emergencies interrupting your time away?
Most business owners find that kind of break nearly impossible to take because the business isn’t setup to work without them. If you’re like most of these folks, unplugging from your business just isn’t realistic—but it doesn’t have to be this way. When you take time to get clear on what you want your business and your life to look like, you can start to take your life back.
You don’t have to constantly react to the things happening in your business, and you can get back to living the life that you want to live. Clarity is a key first step, but action is what makes your vision a reality. So in this post, I’m going to introduce three practices you can start doing now to move you closer to your ideal life.
1. Practice Putting Your Life First
It’s easy to feel like your business is the most important thing happening in your life: It puts money in your pocket and food on the table. But going around with work as your one and only priority for too long leads to overwhelm, exhaustion, and burnout—it’s unsustainable. You have to put your priorities in order, and number one has to be living your life. Your business is meant to support you in your life, not the other way around. But you have to start by making the commitment to put your life first and keep business goals in the proper context.
I had a client, Jacob, who was working 14 hours per day and six days per week every week for years. And it was taking a real toll on him. He wanted to see his family more. He wanted to spend more time with his kids. After we talked about him putting his life first, he resolved that he would be home for dinner at least two nights per week.
It may seem like a small thing, but it represented a huge shift in his approach. On the nights Jacob chose, he committed to leaving work on time and spending time with his family. It made a massive difference in his life, and he actually felt more energized going back into work the morning after.
You can achieve similar results by taking a look at your priorities and being more intentional with how you spend your time. Make a list of the things that are most important to you, personally and professionally, and then make sure your schedule matches those priorities. If spending more time with your family is important, then make sure you’re carving time out of your schedule to do that. Schedule time to go on vacation, volunteer at your child’s school, or make lunch plans with your spouse. You’ll find that the work is still there when you get back, and you’ll have a great reminder of why you’re working so hard.
While you’re spending more time with your family or doing activities that you want to do, be fully present and leave work behind as much as you can. If you’re having a family dinner, leave your phone, tablet, and computer in the other room. Don’t spend that time responding to emails or thinking about work; enjoy the present moment and use it to recharge. Look for other ways to unplug by resolving not to check emails before breakfast or after dinner, and carve out more time without electronic distractions. It takes discipline to keep these things up, but the rewards will be obvious and you’ll start to feel better right away.
2. Practice Pursuing Your Goals
Do you have a bucket list? A collection of things you want to do one day and memories you want to make? If you do, your list may be full of things that you dream about, but—because you don’t know when you’ll have the time—they’re all filed under “someday.” Knowing what you want to do and dreaming about making memories is a good thing; putting them off indefinitely is dangerous. You don’t want to be another person who gets to the end of their life and regrets all the things they never got the chance to do. If you’re waiting around for “someday,” you’re going to be waiting forever. So why not act now?
If you’ve dreamed about taking the family on an African safari, you can start saving, do your research, and make a plan right now. You don’t have to wait for a magical windfall to take the trip—you can begin making it a reality today. Take a look at your bucket list and search for ways to make things happen; there might be ways to get the ball rolling or steps you can take now to get closer to your dream. If you’re not working toward these goals then you’re not fully living your life. Resolve to cross something off your bucket list, then look for another new adventure to add. The main thing is not to wait around; don’t let your dreams stay dreams for too long.
Take advantage of the time you have and start making memories with your family and friends. Don’t wait for someday. Don’t put off living your life for some undetermined time in the future. Little things like family traditions, goofy games, or special meals can create memories that last a lifetime. Sadly, we don’t know how long any of us will be here, so we should all resolve to make the most of the time that we have.
3. Practice Taking Action Now
The biggest takeaway I want for you is the importance of taking action. Putting your life first and pursuing your dreams requires you to act. You have to break free of the cycles that you’re stuck in and make a conscious choice to do things differently. You have to begin to act like the best version of yourself, starting now, and the rest of your life will follow. Don’t allow inaction or fear to stand in your way. Take ownership of your life and your business and start living your best life today.
This starts with taking care of yourself. Your physical and mental health are paramount in the pursuit of your best life. Find the routine that works for you and stick with it. This should be one of your top priorities and absolutely non-negotiable. If you are going to be the best version of yourself, you have to be healthy enough to do it. Making this shift will leave you better equipped to tackle the problems you face in your business and your life.
You don’t have to wait for permission to live the life that you want. Taking even a small step means you’re already beginning to act like the person you want to be. You don’t have to wait for “someday” to have a better life; you can already start taking steps that move you closer to where you want to be.
These three practices are here to help you begin the process of reaching your ideal life. Being a business owner doesn’t mean that your business is the only thing that matters; rather, owning a business should be a step toward living your best life. Your business should support you in the life that you want to live, but for that to happen you have to have the right approach. Put your life first, make memories, and start living your best life right now—you’re already well on your way.
Looking to assess your work–life balance? Take our quiz and see where you rank in creating a business that serves your life instead of the other way around.