When I left agency life to set out on my own, the key reason that drove me was a desire for more work/life balance.
I wanted to have more time for myself, control over taking time off and explore hobbies and relationships.
Looking back, I can honestly tell you – I never had as rude an awakening as that. I fell flat on my face, in such an epic way, that judges would have given me a 10/10 for sticking the landing with my teeth.
You see, the problem with the whole work/life balance thing is this:
There’s no work/life balance.
Work/life balance is the Kobayashi Maru of our generation.
And if you’re not J.Kirk, you’re screwed.
The problem is not that work/life is unattainable.
The problem is that the problem is all wrong.
Thinking in terms of work & life suggests there are two parallel universes that somehow need to come into harmony (as you can see, I woke up in a sci-fi mood).
To say there’s work, and there’s life, implies that while you’re working, you’re not living, and vice versa.
It’s an impossible equation to balance.
It will never happen.
Work exists within life. That’s it.
The question you’re trying to solve is ‘how can I have a more balanced life.’
The real kicker in switching gears like that is that you start to understand that you can’t have it all in both fields at all times.
You need to play some calendar Tetris, do some trimming here and there.
You need to go Marie Kondo on your calendar’s ass to figure out what’s essential and what isn’t.
When I went solo as a consultant, my only previous experience with entrepreneurship was as the founder of two tech startups.
I thought I had to work the same way in this new gig as I did in the others.
The challenges in my mind were:
– How can I build this to sell?
– How can I scale?
– How can I get as much traction as quickly as possible?
I wanted all of that, but I also wanted to work four days a week, spend two months on vacations trekking, and have long walks on the beach in the middle of the day (that last one I made up, but you get my point).
To eventually get to a good place, I had to figure out two things:
One – What kind of life did I want?
And two, what did I need to get out of work to make that happen?
I had to know precisely how much money I needed. What type of client worked best for the life I wanted. What marketing fit best with what I enjoy doing as well as having the best return. Break it all down, and put it back together.
Before looking at product/market fit, you need to think about product/founder-fit.
It doesn’t matter how good the opportunity is. If it’s eating away at the rest of your life, there’s no balance.
If this is something you’re struggling with, here’s what I’d do:
First, understand that if you want more time and space to pursue other things, you need to borrow that time from work at some point.
As much as everyone likes to say it, you can’t have it all (not for free, anyway).
Second, figure out the life you want to have. Be clear on that.
How much money do you need to make it happen? How much time do you need to make it happen? What are the constraints and limitations imposed by the life you want to have?
You can’t be moderating focus groups in São Paulo and living the laptop life in Bali at the same time.
Now that you’re super clear on that use those constraints to design your business.
Nothing like significant constraints to make the designer in you shine.
Figure out what’s essential. Go back to basics. Design your work from the ground up.
If you’re still having trouble, let’s have a chat. I’d love to help you out
PS: If you’ve enjoyed this, sign up to my newsletter to get more. I publish a new article every week. You’ll also receive alerts to new courses and workshops.