High-achieving business owners can enjoy their ventures without sacrificing their personal lives. One Neighborly executive says intention, priorities and delegation are essential.
Too much of our identity is wrapped up in our work. It’s especially true of people who are self-employed, says Luke Stanton, president of ProTradeNet.
People mistakenly believe that to be successful, they have to spend less time with family and friends.
That may be true when new franchisees open a shop, as they’ll probably work more than 40 hours a week, Stanton says. However, as time goes on, many are putting in 60 hours or more a week.
“It creeps up on you,” Stanton says. Thinking about business after the workday ends (and family time begins) and checking work-related emails before going to sleep are common pitfalls.
Stanton credits much of his success with work/life balance to the book, “The Slight Edge,” by Jeff Olson. Discipline around three key areas is essential, Stanton advises:
- Be intentional. Today’s technology has many people feeling off balance. If you focus on work while driving home, eating dinner and interacting with family members, those are warning signs, he says. “Small things that occur that you don’t pay attention to, like answering a call or email at 10 p.m., can seem harmless,” Stanton says, “but it happens every night, and you’re addicted.” Stanton suggests making a “conscious, intentional decision to be 100 percent focused on work, creativity and goals while in the office.” On the drive home, he has a landmark that signals his mind to shift gears and not think about professional responsibilities. “I pick a spot where I leave work behind and focus on being present at home with my family,” he says.
- Set priorities. An integral part of Stanton’s success is using sticky notes at the end of each day. “When I walk in the office the next morning, my priorities are right there,” he says. This habit “frees you up,” he says, adding that he heads home without nagging issues of what has to be done at work. Stanton says when he’s at work, he “pours 100 percent of himself” into his profession. He does the same at home, staying hyperfocused on his family and personal interests. “So much of our identity is wrapped up in our work. We are so much more than what our title says about us,” Stanton says.
- Delegate decisions. To achieve work/life balance, shop owners should train key employees to make decisions, he says. Stanton recalls a quote from Gen. George Patton: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Stanton says leaders mustn’t be the bottleneck in decision making. Allow others to go through the issues and solutions without you as the owner getting in the way. “No one makes the right decisions 100 percent of the time,” he says. Invest in your team members so they can handle phone calls and emails and make decisions, he says. “If people ‘fail forward,’ it will improve the process.”
In the end, Stanton believes that to succeed professionally, folks must thrive in other areas of their lives. It refreshes the soul, he says.