Almost every article out there that I’ve found recently talks about what things you need to sacrifice to succeed – as if you need to cut almost all of the essence out of your life to “make it” in this world.
I would be hypocritical here in saying that I haven’t done that during my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve even found an old journal entry where I specifically stated that sleep, hobbies, and social interactions can be sacrificed, so I can have more time to commit to my goals and my business.
As entrepreneurs, we always repeat the same thing to ourselves – just a bit more time, I need to take care of a few things, and once it’s done, then I’ll get everything in order…
However, life and business don’t work like that.
There’s always another thing to be done, another project that needs our attention, or a deadline we need to hit. Slowly, but surely, we erode our health, relationships, and pretty much everything that we think is valuable.
That’s why the whole concept of work-life balance never made sense to me.
It’s not something you achieve once, and you’re done.
It’s like a scale.
It is fluid.
Well, the whole notion of balance doesn’t exist. Or if it does, the balance you achieve usually doesn’t last for long as the nature of our personal and professional lives is dynamic, and as they change, so does the balance you’ve established.
Having done that and having done the opposite, I can tell you that the latter is better, not only for you personally but for your business as well.
Building a strong foundation based on just a few fundamental pillars is what makes a long-term entrepreneur shine.
Sure, every once in a while, your business might get into a more dynamic stage and it will require you to tone certain things down for a while. But in the end, the difference-maker is that foundation that you build on top of.
Whether it means health, sleep, diet, family time, fitness, support system, or that coveted “me time” that we all feel has somehow gotten lost in the noise and the busyness.
My strong belief that even with eight- to ten-hour workdays, you can still maintain your health, your relationship, and find time to blow off steam or invest in whatever you personally find worthy.
So, let’s take a look at six important things that you don’t need to sacrifice to, well, make it.
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When creating a strong life foundation, sleep should be the first thing on the list as it kickstarts your entire day.
How often have you worked for days, sacrificing sleep, only to reach the weekend and then suddenly you crash, and you end up sleeping for 11–12 hours?
Only to repeat the same pattern a week or two later.
Now, I won’t tell you to sleep for eight hours every night or to wake up at a specific hour – that’s entirely up to you, and it depends on your life circumstances and goals.
But you should know that the way sleep works is based on 90-minute cycles (for instance: 4.5h/6h/7.5 hours and so on), so hitting those is usually much more important than being fixed on a specific amount of time.
We’ve all experienced this. Sometimes you only sleep three hours and you feel fully refreshed, while other times you crash and sleep for half a day and you still feel groggy. This is usually because you woke up in the middle of the sleep cycle.
You know yourself, and thus far in your life, you’ve learned how much sleep you need exactly to properly function through the day, so use that as your guiding measure.
Keep in mind that if you need or want to make any changes in your sleep pattern, I suggest that you do it gradually, so it doesn’t affect your everyday responsibilities.
Instead of making radical changes, try doing it in the 15- to 30-minute range, and within a few weeks, you’ll adapt, and it won’t affect your daily energy anymore.
Although, during those weeks, if you feel an energy drop, taking a short nap is the way to go.
The first thing we tend to put on hold after sleep is our health.
We don’t do it because it’s not important, we do it because of two main reasons:
- We don’t have time to create and maintain a healthy diet and fitness routines.
- We don’t see the consequences of neglecting our health in the short-term.
Sure, putting on an extra few pounds is not a big deal – we’ll deal with that once things at the office calm down a bit., But in reality, we rarely do.
The reason is that most health-related consequences are not short-term. Sure, we might put on a pound or two, but other than that, serious ones are usually a few months or even years away.
Only two things (besides sleep) are important here:
- A healthy diet
- Physical activities
I’d suggest treating these as habits, and not only that but making them a fundamental part of your daily ritual.
Just like when you build a house, you need a solid foundation first. The same goes here, taking care of your sleep first and then diet plus some physical activity is your non-negotiable ritual.
Everything that you do in the day should be built on top of this.
Make small actions every day and let the compound effect do its thing.
Just like sleep, here, most people have experimented quite enough to know what works for them and what doesn’t.
It becomes easy when things get fast-paced to drink those calories and stuff yourself with any food that’s around you just so you don’t crash.
But that should never be the goal. The goal should be to create an automated system for yourself where you know exactly what food you will eat and when based on your health/fitness goals.
With so many delivery options now, you can even save some time when it comes to grocery shopping and prepping food.
Although, to be honest, sitting down for 30 minutes every Sunday and mapping out by yourself (or with your partner) the majority of the meals for the week feels great and adds that sense of accomplishment.
Plus, you have full control over your calorie intake.
When it comes to physical activity, most people will automatically think of the gym, but it doesn’t have to be that. It can be anything from walking, yoga, stretching, running, or anything else. Even doing house chores like mowing the lawn can serve this purpose.
When you watch movies in which they feature a business owner, you often see a successful mom or dad missing band practice, plays, and other important family moments.
This is usually followed up by their partner telling them that they feel left out and that the kids need to spend more time with them.
One can say this is a bit of a cliché, but the reality is that we tend to become occupied, and lose track of things that are not directly related to our primary goals.
But that doesn’t have to be the case – as long as you align your priorities.
Putting family first doesn’t mean that they need to come first in the day, or that you need to set aside a few hours each day to play with your kids.
I’ve always found that even 30–60 minutes during which you are fully focused on your loved ones, without TV and your phone, outweigh the few hours where you are there just for the sake of being there.
Sometimes, what gives us that extra push throughout the day are those brief moments of intimacy we have with our loved ones.
4. Social Life
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn
How often do we lose touch with our friends as soon as life gets a bit busier?
It’s not that we want to, it’s just that after dealing with every responsibility that we have on our plate, not a lot of time is left for anyone or anything else.
Not only that, besides neglecting these friendships that took us to this point in our lives, we often stop here – without making new friends and adding new value to our lives.
So how do we go about this?
The first thing I’d recommend doing here is filtering out your friend base.
If we follow the Pareto Principle here, about 20 percent of your friends add about 80 percent of the value you receive (whatever unique values you look for in friendships).
Once you have an idea of who the people are, after your family, that you want to allocate more time to, the next question is to ask yourself how often and how much time you want to spend with your friends, and then “scheduling them.”
This might sound a bit mechanic, but it is truly the best thing you can do for yourself and for your friendship circle.
Just ask yourself how often you’ve bumped into some of them or messaged them saying, “Hey, let’s catch up,” only to find yourself running into them three weeks later and repeating the whole cycle again.
Interacting with old friends as well as meeting new people is crucial for you (and your business) as each interaction can spark new ideas, expand your horizons, and it often leads to new opportunities.
It can also provide you with much-needed feedback as we’re often stuck in the subjective loop.
Most of the success and happiness we experience in life comes from interacting and working with amazing people around you – people who drive you to achieve more personally and professionally, and vice-versa.
The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of learning:
They don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive, but I separated them here because their motivations and approaches tend to be different.
When it comes to goal-oriented learning, what I mean by this is that any business goal you set for yourself usually contains several skills that you should possess to be able to achieve said goal.
If you’re like me, for the most part, you have already mastered those skills., But often, one or two are missing.
That’s why adding a certain amount of time daily or weekly to acquire the necessary skills will help you reach your milestones faster.
For most entrepreneurs, this is not a problem. Learning new skills so you can take your business to the next level is just a reality, but we often skimp out on learning for pleasure as we don’t connect learning to play the guitar or learning Spanish to our business goals.
I’ve always believed that you should be intentional when it comes to acquiring skills and that each one should serve a specific purpose., But in the last couple of years, I’ve found that any skill, even those we don’t see immediate professional benefit from, plays a huge role.
6. Me Time
The person that you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so better try to make yourself as interesting as possible. – Unknown
When you lead a dynamic life of an entrepreneur, it always seems that your backlog never ends.
Even after you’ve finished all the things you’ve added to a to-do list, there’s this thing or two that you’ve neglected to do.
Because of this, the idea to take a small amount of time to dedicate to “me time” adds a sense of guilt, as it doesn’t yield as much return on investment compared to other high-leverage activities.
But the truth is, setting aside even 30 minutes a day and dedicating it to things you enjoy doing, whether it means going for a walk, listening to music, watching your favorite TV show, or reflecting on your inner thoughts and day-dreaming, is equally important.
You will be amazed by how much you will learn about yourself and how much it will help you crystallize certain things when you’re doing things that don’t lead to any kind of results but a pure sense of fun and relaxation.