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Entrepreneurship can be all-consuming. You’re passionate about your business and want to succeed, so you might feel compelled to work on it every waking hour. Dedication and drive are necessary for building a company, but if you give 100% of yourself to your work all the time, you will find yourself on the path to burnout. In my work with high performers, including actors and producers in Hollywood, we practice creating space for balance within very busy and highly charged schedules.
Balance is absolutely crucial for keeping up the energy to be successful for the long haul. You might feel as though you’re too busy to carve out the time to take care of yourself, but in reality, prioritizing your own well-being will allow you to thrive at running your business.
Here are seven ways to create balance between your ambitions and well-being.
1. Schedule in time for yourself. I see people working on their projects every minute of the day (and often through the night), but this is a recipe for disaster. Building time into your schedule to rest, ground and find joy can support mental health, calm your nervous system and help you view your business from new perspectives. During this time, be it your daily run, a nightly bath or dinner with your family, put down your phone, try not to think about work and give your full attention to a personal activity. Regularly pulling energy back from your business can help you recharge and avoid burnout, which can lead to more productivity in the long run.
2. Fuel with wholesome foods. Too often, entrepreneurs get caught in a cycle where they put work over everything else. For example, they skip meals or eat quick, low-quality food as an afterthought. Unfortunately, this type of behavior sets you up for lower immunity and decreased energy and cognitive function, all of which will negatively impact your work. There is no need to cook yourself gourmet meals every day, but stick to a simple composition of high-quality food to keep your mental energy soaring.
3. Get ample sleep. Even if you feel that you have a million things to do and must stay up into the late hours driving your business forward, don’t forget about the important benefits of lengthy, restorative sleep. Every cell in your body and brain restores itself while you sleep, and restful sleep has been shown to support cognitive function, immune system strength, reactions to stress, among other things. I can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is to your overall health, and therefore your business.
4. Separate your space. Many entrepreneurs today work from home. This can be convenient and a time-saver, but it can also have drawbacks in terms of balance. If your office space is inside your home, I recommend only using that space for work. If not an office, use a corner of a room or a specific tablespace. Do not let yourself do any other activities in that area, and make sure to leave it a few times a day. Research has shown that taking micro-breaks throughout the day, and not just to eat, can lead to greater productivity.
5. Celebrate small wins. Succeeding as an entrepreneur can be a long road. You likely have lofty goals that might take many years to accomplish. This can be draining on your energy and feelings of self-worth. It’s essential to pause and celebrate small wins. Even these mini celebrations have been shown to nurture further engagement, productivity and happiness in the workplace.
6. Practice centering exercises. I frequently see entrepreneurs tie their identity to their business, but your work cannot define you. There are so many ups and downs that go along with running a business, and if your sense of self is tied to this roller coaster, it can be detrimental to your mental health. Practice centering yourself in you, not your business, so that no matter what happens you know who you are. I recommend that you take time to meditate and reconnect to what brings you joy outside of your venture. Prioritize your wellness with targeted habits and make time for activities that will stay with you, no matter what is happening at work.
7. Engage in daily affirmations. Remind yourself that you are amazing, even if you experience a setback with your business. Setbacks and failures come with the territory. Regardless, they can be difficult to navigate while they’re happening. Again, it’s important not to let a problem in your business get intertwined with your sense of self. Practicing affirmations can help you retain confidence in the face of daily adversity. Start with statements such as “I am enough,” “I am strong and successful” or “I am aligned to my purpose and serving the greater good.” Really, you can use any phrase that helps you feel your personal power. Before heading into your office or workspace, look at yourself in the mirror, stand tall and repeat your affirmation confidently. Research shows that affirmations have numerous benefits including decreased stress, improved performance and a better handle on difficult situations. Take notice of how this practice affects your work.
Creating balance as an entrepreneur is of the utmost importance. As an entrepreneur myself, I fully understand the demands and drive that go into growing a business. You don’t have to set aside each day for a full self-care spa day, but it is essential to regularly build in time to take care of your body and mind in the most basic ways. Instead of viewing these activities as taking away time that could be spent building your company, view self-care and balance as investing in the energy necessary to build a sustainable business that you can run with joy for a long time.