“There is an intersection between ambition and ease,”
my mentor told me recently. “It doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario. You are allowed to have both.”
I loved this idea, but couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “Easy for her to say,” I thought. “She’s already successful, I’m just starting out. If I don’t hustle now, this whole thing might fall apart!” As attractive as finding a balance between success and rest sounded, I wondered if it was realistic for a new entrepreneur like me.
I’ve learned the hard way that when you start your own business, there is no one around to give you a gold star. There is no annual performance review in which someone in a suit tells you your weaknesses and what your next goals should be. Without a guide, it makes sense we resort to perfectionism. We hustle along in the hope of results, but let everything else in our lives fall to the side.
I don’t know a single mission-oriented entrepreneur who doesn’t struggle with an “am I doing enough?” conundrum, especially in the beginning. But the secret answer to “How much work is enough work?” is simpler than you might think:
Only you can decide.
You are the CEO of your life, the captain of your ship, and the expert in charge. Only you can make the decision of how much output is enough. While it would certainly be easier to let someone else take the reins and give us instructions, for purpose-driven women like us, that’s just not going to happen.
Luckily, you already have exactly what you need to decide the right balance - you have your inner authority. Learn to tap into it with these actionable tips, and create your own definition of work boundaries.
Start with a crystal-clear goal.
If you’re cloudy on your mission, of course you’ll be struggling to achieve balance while striving for it! It’s incredibly difficult to define when you’ve done ‘enough’ work, when you’re confused about what you’re trying to get done in the first place. So, get clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. Root it in the impact you want to have on the world, and what you want to experience in your life.
Take aligned actions.
Are you making progress toward your crystal clear goals? When I’m not, it’s usually not because I can’t - but because the actions I’m taking aren’t in alignment with the goal itself. Get honest with yourself about what tasks you’re doing because they work, and what tasks you’re doing to simply feel productive. I can clean out my inbox beautifully when I’m avoiding real work, but there are no awards given out for inbox reply time. Give yourself permission to do the work that matters, and toss the rest.
Listen to your body when you reach your limit.
Our bodies are fool-proof messengers that allow our inner wisdom to shine through. When I’ve hit my work threshold for the day, my head feels fuzzy, my eyes start to droop, and my shoulders climb up to my ears. Even though I could continue to push through my next task, it doesn’t mean the work I churn out after hitting my limit will be any good. What happens in your body when it’s time to call it quits for the day?
Eat your dessert first.
Who says the 40 hour (or more) work week is the best way to work? Who says that all entrepreneurs must constantly hustle to be successful? Just like you’re not “supposed to” eat your chocolate cake before your veggies, most of us have inherited some overly strict beliefs about what good work ethic means. Indulging in ice cream before dinner every once in a while won’t ruin your health, and occasionally leaving work for a lunch time hike with friends will not cause your business to collapse. Most entrepreneurs aren’t great at conforming to the norm anyway, so where do you want to be a little rebellious? How can you create more supportive “rules” for how you work?
Creating a work/life balance as a creative entrepreneur is all about finding the line of equilibrium that gives you peace at the end of the day. While it takes courage to take the action we need to, the one who gets to decide how you get it done is… you. After all, your work - your rules. Make them count.
Photos by: Eun Creative