What does it mean to have a successful business? What does it mean to have a successful family? What does it mean to have a successful life?
Obviously, there is not one definition for success, although there may be some social norms that we base our definitions on. Maybe it's making a certain amount of money. Maybe it's staying married for a certain amount of years. Maybe it has nothing to do with either of those!
As a business owner, husband, and father, I have personal definitions of what success means to me, and those definitions are changing all the time. The hard part is making both business and personal success escalate at the same time and, ideally, at the same rate. It seems almost impossible these days to put enough attention into both aspects of our lives, and sadly many of us (including myself at times) choose the wrong priority to spend our time and energy on.
I have found that the times that I am putting my business first, my family suffers and my business in turn suffers. I have also found that when I put my family first, my family thrives and my business actually thrives as well. This of course can be the same for those who aren't married or in a committed relationship too. When you have a proper balance of attention on your personal life and your business life, with your personal life being held to the higher priority, you feel more confident and energized, which in turn makes you better at your job. So next time you're feeling burnt out, take a few minutes to read through this list of tips that may help you get your priorities straight again and bring your energy back.
5 Ways To Balance Your Life and Work
1 - Spend time with your spouse before work
I often wake up thinking of all the things on "the list" and am eager to get started on my work day. As a result of going straight to work and not tidying up my wet towels off the floor and helping the kids have breakfast, my wife starts off her day more frazzled and it can sometime lead to a day of her feeling overwhelmed with all the things on her list. If I take 30-45 minutes first thing in the morning to tidy up, run a load of dishes, and help the kids get ready, it starts my wife's day off better and often results in a more productive day for both of us.
2 - Schedule your work hours
With not having a typical 9-5 job, we have the freedom of working when we want. This should be a freedom, but it can often be a trap if we love what we do. If you get an email in your 9-5 job that comes in at 8pm at night, typically you won't see it until the next day. When you are self-employed, you have the "freedom" of checking your emails all the time, and when we see that new client inquiry come in at 8pm, how dare we wait until the next day to respond. It is important to schedule work hours.
In the photography business we can end up working a lot of evenings, this shouldn't mean that we work 9-5 and then again at 6-10pm. If you know you are going to work at night, schedule time in your day to have time with your family, your hobby, or whatever else you need to do. Sometimes when we don't work all the time, it can mean that we actually more efficient during the time we do work. Facebook and email are a huge part of my business. Most of our business comes from Facebook, so I could justify my time by myself being on Facebook for a large part of the day, but as you probably have experienced, it can be a huge time-waster. Be purposeful on Facebook and email. Schedule 2-3 times a day for half and hour or so to be on Facebook and email.
If you're a mom, you may find it extra difficult to find quality time to work. You may find that you can keep kids entertained for periods of time so you can get your work done throughout the day. Speaking on behalf of my wife, it is not easy to try to work, while trying to parent kids at the same time in the day. Carissa has found it to be more worthwhile to get a babysitter or swap babysitting with her friends a few times a week so she can be productive with her work during those hours, while the kids are having fun with other kids and she can focus on being a present mom while her kids are at home. If this isn't an option for you, having quiet time for an hour or two can be a great way to get in a little bit of work. During this time, our kids play quietly in their room with their toys or nap. There is definitely a balance, and photographer moms need a standing ovation.
3 - Go on dates and don't talk business
It is so easy to date before getting married, but what happens 5 years later? Life gets in the way. Date nights become watching shows together at 10pm trying not to fall asleep. Keep your marriage or your relationships with your loved ones strong. Set aside time. SCHEDULE and PLAN IT!! Mark dates on your calendar and even go a step further and actually plan where you are going and possibly make reservations and babysitting plans. You are more likely to go out if you have it already planned. Yes, babysitting is expensive, but your marriage is a worthwhile investment. Even though life as a photographer can be exciting, try to keep business out of conversation.
4 - Keep boundaries with your work out of respect for your spouse/partner
In an industry that can be heavily reliant on sexual appeal, we can sometimes find ourselves in compromising situations that aren't healthy for our marriages. You know yourself better than anyone else does, including your spouse, so make sure you hold yourself accountable for the situations you put yourself in with your business. If you find that a particular thing will often bring about conflict in your marriage, but you still believe it to be innocent, put your relationship first and avoid that situation. It's just not worth it.
5 - Maintain a budget and keep your living and working costs low so you don't have to work as much
Our world is nagging us all the time to keep up with the Jones'. Our world is telling us, "we work hard, we deserve this new car". It is hard to not get sucked into buying what our world is telling us that we deserve. It is easy to look at the neighbour's new boat or RV and think that we "deserve" those too. If we make the decision to keep our costs low, we don't feel the pressure to work as much. I'm pretty sure I won't be on my death bed saying, "If only I had worked a little more, I could have bought that new camera", but I could definitely see myself saying, "I wish I spent more time with my family."
I can't stress enough how much of an ever-changing balancing act it is to succeed in business and personal life. Leave a comment with what has helped you achieve balance in your life, it just may be the exact thing somebody else needs to hear right now!