This is a guest post from Troy Stoneking. In his own words, “I’m a very happily married man who writes, speaks, coaches and consults for individuals and organizations. By combining decades of experience in both the corporate world and entrepreneurship I help others find what they love to do in life whether at a job or in their own business. In addition I show companies how to find and keep the best people. I’d love to connect with you at TroyStoneking.com or on Facebook at Troy Stoneking!” If you’d like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
The road from employee to entrepreneur is both exciting and challenging. A constant stream of new and unplanned tasks will be vying for your time. You want this so badly. You believe that what you are doing will benefit you, those you love, and many other people.
There is great potential on this path, but even greater danger. Not danger in the physical sense, but danger in the distinct possibility that the passion you are pursing will leave behind those you treasure most.
You CAN have it all, a beautiful, healthy relationship with your spouse or significant other while creating a fantastically successful business. Let me share some tips I have learned along the way.
Establish clear time boundaries
A lot of what I do in my business is write. I write on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings for an hour or so. On Saturdays and Sundays I spend almost the entire afternoon writing. Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings I mentor runners, Friday night is date night, weekend evenings are usually running errands…all with my wonderful wife.
It’s a simple given that when I’m not writing I’m with her. She never wonders if I’ll be writing on Friday night or any other non-writing time. Those are our “us” times. If you don’t set clear time boundaries then your business will fill every waking moment. Don’t let that happen.
Listen and adjust
A few days ago (on a writing night) my wife said to me, “My tank is low.” This is a reference back to a book we read many years ago which included the concept of a “love tank.” Keeping the love tank full is critical to a happy marriage. I took that evening off from writing and spent the time listening and holding her. We needed it.
There will be times when something just has to give. Never let it be your relationship. Maybe, like the other night for me, it’s a one-time thing. Perhaps though, it may be more systemic. In that case you may need to consider changing your time boundaries. Or do a better job of keeping your business in its proper place. Listen to your love and make adjustments as necessary.
Say No to almost everything
Best-selling author and Success Magazine editor Darren Hardy says that No is “the most powerful word in the success dictionary.” He’s right. But saying no isn’t just about success in your business, it’s about success in your relationship.
Both building a business and having a happy and growing relationship take a lot of time. To make them work you are going to have to cut out most other things. Don’t remove things that are part of your core values, but elsewhere cut ruthlessly. You have precious little time, if you are going to get what you want out of life then the non-essentials must be removed. Never sacrifice good for best. You can’t do everything, you can’t satisfy everyone and you’ll go crazy trying. Master the art of saying no.
Remember why you started
Why are you working so hard to become an entrepreneur? What caused you to choose this path? Was it money? Possibly. But money isn’t the deep reason, money is a tool, a means to an end. My guess is there is something far more powerful that drew you to entrepreneurship.
Perhaps you credit freedom as your reason. That’s also possible, but freedom for what purpose? You want the freedom to make your own choices. Which most certainly starts with the freedom to choose with whom and how you spend your time.
It’s likely you started this journey because you want to be with the person you love most as often as possible. If the goal is more time with the love of your life, then make sure the business you are building doesn’t have the opposite effect. Even during the most difficult times hold tightly to each other. A multimillion dollar lifestyle is hollow if you have no one with whom to share it. Remember why you started.
I promise that you will eventually hit a point where each of these will become critical to maintaining a strong and loving relationship. The pull of a thousand tiny tasks could quickly turn you into a workaholic entrepreneur. Don’t let it happen.
Guard your time, adjust when necessary, say no often and remember why you started. These are four simple steps, but they aren’t easy. Keep them always at the top of your mind and when you achieve new levels of success the person you love most will be joyfully at your side.