Balance is something that is becoming increasingly challenging for business owners, especially those that are experiencing significant growth or change. Often work life balance is simply a feeling of balance – feeling like you can bring your whole self to work and be present, even if the actual hours you work can’t change all that much.
When your balance is off it not only negatively impacts the performance of you in your business, but can spill over into other areas of your life, your relationships and ultimately your health – with some leaders even saying they feel like they are failing at everything. When your balance it out of sync it can feel like all of the different roles you hold in your life blur into one and your mind is constantly whirring between one mental “to do list” item to another. When that’s your norm, it is impossible to be effective in the place you should be focussing your energy.
So how do you achieve balance whilst scaling a business? Instead of the balance concept, we work around a feeling of being able to “bring your whole self to work”, or bringing your whole self and energy to any situation you’re in. Being present isn’t just physical, it’s about being mentally present in whatever moment you are in. If you can feel fully yourself in each context and situation, you will ultimately feel more balanced.
Here are two key tips to help address this:
Practice Being Present
At any point in your life you hold various roles. It could be you as a business owner, you as a parent, you as a partner etc. When a business is in the process of scaling, this can often put immense pressure on achieving a good balance across all of the roles you hold, making you feel like you’re constantly chasing your tail and, in extreme cases, it can cause aspects of your life to break down.
Often when this happens we lose the presence of each moment, as we’re too busy thinking about the next thing, or the things we’re not doing. Essentially you can’t bring your whole self to work, or any other situation, when your head isn’t present in each given situation.
To restore balance, it’s important to take the time to define each of your identities and practice being present in each of them. This discipline will allow you to focus your energy and attention on each one at a time – if you are at work, put your all into it, if you are at home with your family – make sure you are present and fully connecting with them. If you are present in the moment, this will allow you to achieve more in each of your different roles.
Work To Your Behavioural Strengths
We’ve all heard – work to your strengths. This sounds easy, but often your strengths are only your strengths because of the behaviours that drive them. By understanding the behaviours that you exhibit when you operate at your strongest, you can drive more consistency around this. When working in line with strengths, and practicing work through the behaviours that are your strongest in, you won’t just exert energy, you will also gain it.
Establishing the behaviours you feel allow you to play to your strengths is key to identifying how your energy is exerted on a daily basis. If you are a procedural person for example, you will enjoy and have a strength for creating and working with processes. If you have a procedural strength and preference, and you do too much work within areas that lack process and structure, your energy levels are likely to deplete quicker than they would if you were working on process-led tasks, leading you to potentially experience burn out sooner.
Working long hours is often raised when discussing work-life balance for growing businesses, however, when scaling up a business, long hours are often necessary – it is what you do within those hours that is important. If you are working late for example, make sure you are working on something that is giving you energy, something you enjoy doing, rather than something that is depleting your energy, or out of sync with your key behavioural traits and areas of strength.
To focus in on more purposeful actions that allow you to bring your whole self to work, and leadership, you might be interested in our free leadership series – Leaders Who Lead.