When you’re a female small business owner life can be hectic and crazy and busy and stressful. Working mother’s guilt can leave you feeling inadequate in your role as family caregiver. Business stresses can keep you awake at night. Time demands can leave you feeling frantic and confused. Multiple commitments as mother, caregiver, wife/partner, friend and business owner can leave you feeling pushed and pulled all over the place. All of these things can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unhappy, questioning why you even started this journey in the first place.
Take some time out
I’ve felt all of these things in the past and taking a short break recently with my children was like stepping off the hamster wheel which has left me questioning many choices that I’ve been making recently. I was so caught up in driving my businesses and achieving my business goals that I was allowing them to drive my life rather than the other way round. For the first time in a long time I really relaxed and just had fun. Rather than finding the school holidays stressful because it took me away from my businesses (yep, that’s generally how I have felt in the past every-time a school holiday comes along), I was able to embrace the time off and relax.
Know your goals
This experience left me wondering what it was all for. A friend of mine suggested that I sit down and write down my goals. I of course started with my business goals as that is really all I’ve thought about for the last 2 ½ years. Hmmm, that didn’t feel quite right. Then I noticed that something was missing, where did I fit in all this? So I then decided to write down my personal objectives, from scratch. As if I didn’t already have two businesses that I was running. These objectives defined the type of life I wanted, the type of income that I wanted and the amount of time that I wanted to spend in the different areas of my life; business, family, friends, me. What surprised me was how much my personal objectives had changed over the last 3 years (the last time I did this was after my daughter was born in 2007).
This exercise was invaluable as it helped me to see where the gaps and disparities were between the two. Now I know what I want out of life, I was able to adjust my business goals to fit my life rather than the other way around. This has meant that my current objectives have taken me from world domination to lifestyle entrepreneur.
This is the process that I went through to find more balance in my life and make some major adjustments in the way that live my life.
Write down your personal objectives
Do this across a number of categories depending on your personal priorities. Don’t judge yourself as you are writing these. Let the ideas flow. I find that drawing a mindmap or even better using mindmap software like Tony Buzan’s iMindMap, (you can get a free trial here http://www.thinkbuzan.com/a_id/4bc6b7641c434 ) It helps get ideas down quickly and freely.
- Charity / Social
Write down your business objectives – short term and long term
These are very high level goals - you’re not into planning yet…
- Team / Size of business
Do they match?
Is there a gap between the two?
Given your personal objectives are your business objectives achievable?
Make your choices
If I’m being honest, I had abdicated responsibility for the choices that I was making. I was allowing my businesses to run my life and quite frankly, it was making me miserable. I was reminded recently that we can choose the path that we want to take, and even though making those choices can seem very difficult at the time, in the long run they can be worth it.
Once you know what you want it’s very easy to measure the opportunities that come your way against those choices. It’s important that you find the right balance and priorities for you as until you do, both business and life will feel like a struggle.
Embrace your choices
It’s one thing to make your choices, it’s totally another to embrace them. By embracing the choices that you make you are taking responsibility for them. If those choices are making you unhappy then revisit the questions above and re-prioritise them until you find the balance that works for you. Your life and your future are in your control
World domination will have to wait
I’m an avid consumer of self help and personal development books and had convinced myself that I needed to “Think Big”, create audacious goals and drive my businesses to great success. However, I hadn’t factored in what was personal success for me. That’s not to say that world domination isn’t still on the agenda, but at the moment it’s taking a back seat to spending time with my children.
Take the time out to identify the life and the business that YOU want – trust me, it’s worth it!
About the Author: Julie Hall is the founder of Women Unlimited, a web marketing expert and founder of Springmedia, a digital design agency based in south west London.