This is something that’s near and dear to my heart. A little background on me:
I got married when I was still in school. My wife and I were (and still are) super close, and spent a lot of time together. She was a dance teacher and since I was in school, my schedule was pretty fluid. She got pregnant when I had my first corporate job more than an hour away from home. (And I’m kind of a workaholic). I remember having a lot of really candid conversations with her about how she needed me home, and needed my support. So I made it a priority to do that.
When the kids were born, I was working multiple jobs – I had my normal day job, then a startup on the side. When it had just been us, I could work wherever, whenever. But with kids, time became a bigger issue. I only saw the kids for max an hour a day. I hated it.
I had a decision to make – Did I value sleep, or my family?
I thought sleep was over-rated. So I would sleep on average 4-5 hours a day, and work 15-16 hours. From 6-9 pm, I was off. I wouldn’t even have my phone near me. That was family time.
Did not sleeping suck? Yeah. But I was a lot happier. And so was my family. I also learned two huge valuable lessons during my first startup when it came to work-life balance.
Lesson 1: You’re going to have to make trade offs.
You only have 24 hours a day. Ideally 6-8 hours of that is sleeping. One hour is exercise, which leaves you with 15-17 hours a day left. So with that 15 hours, what’s most important to you?
Pro tip 1 – This can change on a daily basis. I’ve sacrificed sleep, family time, exercise, food, etc. depending on the situation
Pro tip 2 – Make sure the love tank is full.
Meaning if you haven’t spent time with the family in a while, go do that. Sacrifice something else. If you haven’t exercised in a few days, go do that. Sacrifice something else. You should to mix it up so you never feel empty of something.
Lesson 2: Don’t beat yourself up.
I did this all the time. And it sucked. I never felt I was doing well enough as a dad, as a husband, or as a business owner. It wasn’t until I just stopped asking what I though I should be doing, and just did what I wanted to do, that I felt better. And stopped stressing.
Pro tip: Set goals, have an agenda, but don’t micromanage yourself.
Here’s an example: I had a goal of closing 3 sales in a week. I followed up, did some research, made some calls, but I didn’t stress about when I did the research. I did it at night as I was watching tv with my wife. She got to watch a cheesy reality tv show, and I got to spend time and multitask. It worked.
Since I stopped micromanaging myself and my time, and stopped beating myself up, I’ve been way happier. Work continues on, (it won’t go anywhere I promise. You can take a break), my family’s way closer than we’ve been, and I’m able to enjoy being a business owner again. I hope you have the same, and I hope the lessons I learned can help you find that personal balance you need in life.