We live in a world that is positively obsessed with success. This is especially true in the west where the quest for success is the only thing that matters. As long as you win, it does not matter how many lives you ruin, including yours and the lives of your family members.
This is something that is best observed on budding entrepreneurs whose business takes off and becomes this overwhelming presence in their lives, a presence that scorches everything else in its path.
A Hypothetical Entrepreneur
In order to try and get down to what it is that drives entrepreneurs to put themselves and their loved ones in such a situation, we can use a hypothetical owner of an ecommerce store (everyone sells something online these days) whose business has recently seen a massive influx of new customers.
All of a sudden, this entrepreneur realizes that this is for real; that they need to hire at least two more people and that it is time to take things to a whole other level. Their head is buried in numbers, analytics projections, ecommerce solutions that will bring them more success, applications from future employees, etc.
The rest of the world becomes inconsequential and an afterthought.
How do you ensure this doesn’t happen to you? How do you prevent yourself from hurting your family by becoming obsessed by work?
Face the Loss
When you feel like you are drowning in business and that everything else is being put on a backburner, make a short pause. Literally a few minutes during which you will engage in a very short mental exercise.
Put your business to one side mentally and everything else (your family, free time, hobbies, friends, etc.) to the other. Now imagine what your life would be like without one of those. Try really hard to visualize this as realistically and as seriously as you can.
You will soon realize that your business, no matter how good it is and how far it will go, will start looking trivial when put up against everything else in your life.
Do not be fooled, it really is against everything else in your life.
Talk to your Loved Ones
Another great way to put things into perspective is to sit down with the people you love – your family and your closest friends, and do something like a reverse or preemptive intervention.
Sit down with them and ask them to tell you how your focus on business has affected their lives. Ask them to be brutally honest.
Once you hear your 5-year-old’s voice breaking because you have broken the last dozen promises made to him or her, you will start realizing how much you have been hurting the people you love.
The chances are that this has been going on for much longer than you even feared and that it has been a while since you went offline for the people you love.
Realizing how long this has been going on is a crucial step.
Start Changing Things
Once you realize how far down the hole you went, it will be time for you to start making small changes that will bring improvement to your life and the lives of the people around you.
Start off by taking at least one day off every week. This day, however, you will not be doing absolutely anything that has to do with your business. Not a single thing.
From there on, you will introduce these oases of completely business-free time when you will dedicate yourself fully to your family or your hobbies.
Before you know it, you will be getting used to these and you will not believe the lifestyle you previously led.
When you manage to free yourself of the shackles of 24/7 work, you will feel great; there is no doubt about that.
Unfortunately, slipping up and going back to the old ways can happen in a matter of days. A sudden uptick in the amount of work that has to be handled and you are back to your old habits. Perhaps even more insidious is the gradual return to a business-obsessed lifestyle.
Make sure to make an overview every now and then and to encourage your friends and family to speak up if they notice you are going all Gordon Gecko on them again.