13/06/2014 09:40 BST | Updated 13/08/2014 06:59 BST

The Myth of Work-Life Balance, and How to Bust It When Starting Up

Balance is a tough concept to grasp yet alone implement. Could this be because we don't actually know what it means?

Think about it.

Balance -- the word -- literally means 'even distribution', instantly bringing to mind a set of scales in perfect horizontal alignment. But conceptually it means 'stability of mind or feelings', a state which doesn't necessarily appear when you balance work, rest and play in equal measure.

Which brings us back to square one and the question: What is balance and how do we create it?

Here's a simple approach.

Thrive first. Build your empire second.

Here's how:

  1. Define how you want to feel and identify all the elements required to create that feeling every day.
  2. Schedule all those elements in your calendar before you schedule your work hours.

Sounds easy, right?

Yet all to commonly we bypass step one in our excitement to startup.

Often when people come up with an idea, their first instinct is to buy a domain name, create a website and slap on a logo. BAM! You may even have preceded that with a fancy business plan & an impressive P&L. And then you're off!

But the excitement of entrepreneurship wears off pretty quickly if you haven't explored the question: What does my ideal life look + feel like?


Because when the excitement runs out and you hit the first of many walls you realise all you do is work. And you're burnt out!

You've created another job.

Your life strategy must precede and underpin your business strategy because when you thrive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that feeling will carry you through the inevitable highs and lows of running your own business.

Yet we allocate more time + focus + energy to our work than any other aspect of our lives, often outrageously disproportionate to other elements -- the ones that intertwine to create a rich and fulfilling life. Aka balance.

Work, relationships and family get a lot of attention but what about:

  • Body
  • Health
  • Personal Development
  • Spirituality
  • Personal Space
  • Home
  • Friendship
  • Community
  • Time
  • Business
  • Money
  • Learning

Shift your focus away from your startup idea for a moment, bring your attention to this question, and define what balance means for you.

So step number one is:

Know what you need in order to thrive.

It might be a green juice every day. Bed before 10pm. A yoga class once a week. A massage every fortnight. Digital detoxes every weekend. (Sounds an awful lot like me haha!.)

When you've figured that out, step two is a breeze.

If it's not scheduled, it's not real.

-- Marie Forleo

When you have a to-do list as long as the earth is wide, you need a tool that makes life and business integration easy.

Enter your startup calendar.

It's really just a fancy term for scheduling everything.

It holds you accountable to your vision of balance.

Create your startup calendar in three easy steps:

  1. Schedule your obligations (job, school run, dog walking, care giving, blah blab blah)
  2. Schedule everything you need to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This might be 15 mins of meditation a day, a 3pm Nana nap, an hour of squash a week, a night out with your friends every Friday, date night with your man three times a week. It doesn't matter what it is, whether you need five minutes of it, or hours. If it empowers you to thrive schedule it.
  3. The remaining space in your calendar is available to your startup.

You might be wondering why we schedule our startup last.

We touched on that already.

Thrive first. Build your empire second.

(Seriously! Pay Attention!)

You and your business cannot thrive if you don't get enough sleep, move your body or your personal relationships are falling apart.

And there's no point spending 60 hours a week on your business if you feel emotionally or spiritually empty.

And because when we thrive we can work less and get more done.

It's about working smarter not harder.

(It always has been but the penny hasn't dropped yet.)

Whether you have two hours a week or 40 you know exactly how much time you have for your startup + exactly when it's available.

And you'll be functioning on all cylinders because you're taking care of the important stuff every day, too (body+ mind + spirit).

You could call this conscious business design.

But let's just call it balance.

It's is only a myth when we haven't considered what it means for us.

Create a vision for your *ideal life* and you'll bust that myth forever.