My boyfriend Ryan is what we lovingly call a plodder. It’s an endearment, a term of respect and love but he and I are very different.
Ryan is on the whole quite satisfied with his 9-5. It pays the bills, he’s good at it and he can mostly leave it at the door when he’s finished for the day. Ryan is one of the worlds self assured, self possessed ‘I am what I am kind of people’.
His sense of life satisfaction actually comes from what he spends his time doing and who he spends it with outside of his working hours. His job is the means with which he earns what he needs to live that life.
I on the other hand intertwine my self identity with the work that I’m doing. I make sure that I love what I do and throw myself into it wholeheartedly. My work and how I work is integral to who I am and I love that about myself.
I don’t switch off easily and one of the most significant things about how I work is my ability to forge life long relationships. These relationships that I build along the way are hugely important to me and if I am being brutally honest, I have no idea how to separate myself.
I once told an old flame that I no longer wanted to treat my life like a whole bunch of Bob Dylan esqu little boxes. That I didn’t want to compartmentalise myself in any way shape or form.
I throw myself into things and when they are done I move on. The lingering effect of this is a whole heap of life long friendships and a plethora of experience.
It’s not been easy for either of us though. Ryan is stable and steady and sometimes people who are moving on with their lives at a rapid pace can’t always see that this isn’t a lack of ambition but is in fact about making sure he has a full and well rounded life that he has some control over.
I am ambitious and I am very aware of myself. This can make me my own worst critic and my friends who are plodders in their own right don’t understand my need to be the captain of my own ship.
Worst of all, I am guilty of shouting for everyone to hear that I cannot bare office politics, having to ask permission for annual leave or the heinous working mum guilt.
I tell anyone who will listen that I will not settle myself into a 9-5 because I will lose myself if I do. Still, almost 20 years after telling my old flame, I do not want to treat my life like a set of compartmentalised little boxes.
This can come at a cost and make others believe that I think less of them for plodding, or that their lack of ‘job ambition’ somehow means that they’re settling. It’s not the case of course, I have been around the block enough times to know that I envy and appreciate anyone who is true to what makes them happy and gives them whatever level of security they need. My life vision looks different to theirs but it includes them. Their life vision looks different to mine but I hope it includes me.
Nothing makes me happier than a project, it plays to my strengths and really gets the creative juices flowing.
Because Ryan and I are so different we often talk about this and over the years the conversation has been shared with many friends, relatives and colleagues. What I have come to realise is that work life balance isn’t an overarching static thing in the realms of the working people of the world. It is an evolving energy that is as unique and changeable as we are as individuals.
What I have learned is that there are 4 key things that you can do to find work/life balance as an entrepreneur.
- Embrace your personality – it’s all about finding the joy in what you do
- Play to your strengths – when it comes more naturally you will excel
- Work on whatever it is you need to – particularly in entrepreneurship you will need to learn lots of new skills (just don’t get sucked into procrastilearning!)
- Find your courage to try new things and if they fail make sure they fail fast (don’t linger)
Nothing sadder than a positive opportunity becoming a double negative simply because you were afraid or uncomfortable or stuck in a rut to take the leap of having faith and embracing yourself.
Don’t be all ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ you’re worth the effort.
It’s easy to talk about why you can’t find your work/life balance as an entrepreneur. I know from personal experience that it can be tough, especially when you are basing it on other peoples ideals of what that should look like.
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Catch you later, Amy x