For entrepreneurs, “work-life balance” is just a myth

A girlfriend sent me a little plaque last year, with the homily “don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. As a concerned friend, she listened to my never ending moans of misery about the bad year I had in 2012. What she heard, however, was that the business – combined with pleas of being too busy at work to meet up – was causing me to be unhappy.

But she is not an entrepreneur. I think we are a breed that only tend to understand each other. Isn’t the work–life balance just a myth for entrepreneurs? 

Without doubt, most of us work ridiculous hours. Most of us are also guilty of being too busy to see friends as often as we should. The bottom line is that business is not just a job, but our life and passion. 

We know we are obsessive people. Therefore, it shouldn’t really be surprising that we work obsessively at our business. Those of us who work all hours may be thought of as eccentric by our friends when, in fact, we are happy and successful. It is only when the stress and pressure takes over that it becomes questionable.

It could certainly be argued that it is important that we look after ourselves. I undoubtedly fall foul of that with my fondness for red wine and nicotine. It is equally undoubted that any business coach I have had over the years has called me on my lack of proper and regular breaks and holidays. As entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to skip holidays or take our work away with us.

Fire-fighting is undoubtedly stressful and deeply depressing. Therefore, it is generally bad for our mental and physical health. The more we can get ourselves to work on the business and avoid the mundane and negative flotsam of everyday life, the happier we will be. In general, delegating the work we aren’t good at or don’t like – usually one and the same – will improve our quality of life. When our businesses perform badly, it tends to affect us badly as well.

I wonder if Olympic athletes are regarded as having a poor work-life balance. I am sure they do, but doubt if they mind that much. 

Therefore, I would argue that it is great living a life we adore. It could even be a contribution in providing gainful employment and, as we no doubt try to achieve, good places for others to work and enjoy a large chunk of their lives. 

We have good times and bad times, of course. I think we should all throw this work-life balance concept in the bin. It is our life choice, our passion and we love it.

I must remember, very sadly, to turn down those pressing invitations to the local knitting circle.

Jan Cavelle is founder of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company.

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