When I launched my first company in 2000, it was an Internet based PR and Marketing firm. I was so caught up in the Internet bubble race-to-cash that I missed most of my 30's. I was a workaholic to the max. "Work hard, play hard, and shoe shop in between" was my motto.
When the "Great Recession" hit, my Internet-based agency was forced to slow down. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was plagued by stress and the anxiety grew because business was so slow. I took everything so personally, yes, even global economics.
With all of that extra time on my hands (and less money) I had to turn inward. How could I be happy without all of those extra shoes? But seriously, the life I had become accustomed to had taken a hit just like the stock market, and money was tight. I learned a lot about myself and what I like as a person, despite obtaining the material, indulging in luxury, and traveling to excess.
I shifted gears professionally and personally in a significant way, I kicked up my yoga practice a few notches, I learned how to surf, I changed my eating habits, and also started a meditation practice. Meanwhile, I pivoted my business to be a more service-oriented company that was still in alignment with my digital roots.
It wasn't easy going from tech super star to start-up, but I made it work. With a few mindful, strategic actions, including leveraging my database and knowledge, I was back on top.
What really got me thinking about the business of balance is that I am currently starting a new virtual element to my business to target a new DIY market and I noticed an internal struggle between my "workaholic" days and my current work-life balance philosophy.
Specific things that have helped me with this new part of my business, both in terms of actual deliverables and internal peace of mind:
1. Schedule: My entire life is mapped out into a schedule. When it comes to particular deliverables and projects, I write down my goals and back track my calendar to match. This helps me move in the right direction. I have a specific support system for this program.
2. Expectations: I try to keep my expectation in check. We have benchmarks, including conversion percentages for ROI. By keeping my eye on these figures and keeping my expectations in check, I am set up for success.
3. Pace: I am mindful of how much I take on, and always ask myself: how can I spread this out to be attainable with everything else on my plate? I work my tail off, but I have come to realize I am a 'burn the candle at one end' kind of gal now.
4. Strategic Actions: After being in business for over a decade, I've discovered that it isn't always about the amount of effort. It's about the strategic effort. Work smarter, not harder.
5. People: I have a support system! My network is populated by those that are extremely supportive of everything I do. Plus, I have other like-minded entrepreneur friends that just "get it" like no other. They are crucial to my sanity and serenity.
6. Help: Never be afraid to ask for help or hire people to help, because "None of us is as smart as all of us" (Ken Blanchard)
These days, I like to say I am a Graceful CEO. Keeping the balance in my life is very important. I look at being an Entrepreneur as a marathon, not a race and I will place at the perfect pace for me.