It was bad enough I had to be up at four on a Monday morning to fly cross country to go to meetings. But I was thoroughly disgusted when I was “asked” to stay an extra day for an additional meeting.
“You really should be there for this,” is what my boss had to say about it.
Just in case you were wondering, I went to that meeting, and it was totally skippable.
Normally, extending my trip an extra day wouldn’t have been that big a deal.
But this time I actually had plans. A good friend was having a book launch in Montreal. And I had already made arrangements to get there from Philadelphia. I planned to leave the day after I arrived home from the San Francisco business trip.
But having to stay an extra day for the “super important meeting” meant I would get back to Philadelphia a day later. And wouldn’t have time to execute my original travel plans.
So I had to finagle things a bit. I adjusted my flight plans and flew straight to Montreal from San Francisco.
In the end, everything worked out. But it was oh so inconvenient.
It was a good reminder for me. My corporate life infringed too much on my personal life. Too often, I had to rearrange my life around what was going on at work.
But it wasn’t just me.
Businesses don’t have feelings: Here’s what that means to you
I sat in the office of one of the Sr. execs at my corporate job one day, and he told me about a crisis that happened at a production plant in China. It was a big deal, especially because a new product was about to launch.
So what did he do? He and a few colleagues flew out there to try and get everything straightened out. It didn’t really matter to them that it was Christmas. Business was calling. It didn’t know that it was the holidays. And even if it did, I’m not sure that it cared.
When business called, the Sr. execs answered.
As I listened to the story, the only thing I could think about was how his wife and kids must have felt. Would it have been the end of the world if the launch got postponed a few days?
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I didn’t fit in too well in the corporate world. I tend to think like a person, rather than a business.
The corporate world has it’s flaws, yes. But I don’t want to give you the impression that small businesses always behave better.
They can be just as relentless in their demands.
A few years ago, I chatted with a co-worker who was planning a small, intimate wedding. She told me she wasn’t sure if her mom would be able to come, because her parents opened an ice cream shop. If her mom left town for a few days, there was no one who would be able to run the shop while she was gone.
So it was either close the ice cream shop for a few days, or skip out on her daughters wedding.
From the human side of things, this one seems like a no brainer. Go to your daughter’s wedding. The business can wait.
But remember, businesses don’t have feelings. They don’t care about weddings, your friend’s book launch, or that you need a vacation.
And because businesses don’t have feelings, it is essential that the people who run them, do.
Why you need to show your business who’s boss
Otherwise, your business will always call the shots. Like a corporate job, it will tell you when you can go home for the day. It’ll demand what projects need your immediate attention. It’ll even tell you when to go on vacation. And if you’re not careful, it won’t even pay you for that vacation. Ouch!
You can’t let that madness exist in your business. You’ve got to take control. Inject some humanity into it, so that it benefits everyone it reaches.
In your quest to serve and delight your customers, your life, your needs, and your desires do not have to come secondary.
You’re making life better with your business. Shouldn’t your life be one of those that’s better too?
Of course it should. Businesses don’t have feelings. But you do.
And when you build a business that serves the needs of all the lives it touches, you’ll put yourself in a position to live a good life. While you get paid to impact the world.
The right way to think about your business and your life
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin
You can live a lifestyle that you want. One that allows you to do the things you want. Spend time with your loved ones, travel, and afford luxuries you may not have been able to in the past. This is possible.
You can also have a business that makes a big difference.
You can have them both. You don’t have to choose.
You don’t have to consistently work 80 hour weeks. Or give up birthdays, holidays, or other important events if you don’t want to.
You can have it all, both a great business, and a great life.
But to have both the business AND the life you want, at the same time, you’ve got to design it.
3 Steps to living the good life while getting paid to change the world
You’ve got lots of power. Power to live life on your terms, and power to make a difference in the lives with others.
And if you don’t take your own feelings into account while you’re out working on changing the world with your business, you could find yourself in a sticky situation.
Here’s what Danny Iny had to say about it:
Building any successful business is hard work. It would be a real shame to do all that hard work and build a business you don’t even want. That would be a real unfortunate experience.
Success means very different things to different people. To some it’s a laptop on the beach. To someone else, it’s a glass castle. You don’t want to find yourself in one when you want the other.
Follow these steps to get what you want, both out of your business and your life.
1. Go to the beach
What does the good life look like for you?
Fancy restaurants and rubbing elbows with the in crowd? Or maybe its laying on the beach, listening to the sound of crashing waves with cocktail in hand? How about continent hopping as you explore different cultures and countries?
Or some combination of these things?
You can have the life you love. But first you have to design it. Otherwise, it will be tough to know what you’re working toward.
My ideal lifestyle includes lots of beach time. Plenty of quality time with loved ones are high priorities for me too.
I also would like flexibility to work from anywhere so I can travel. For instance, I’m writing this to you now from Buenos Aires. I set up shop here for six weeks. I work during the days, and dance my nights away.
What does your good life look like?
Take out a blank sheet of paper, grab a pen, and start writing your dreams. Be as specific and detailed as possible.
What activities bring you the most joy? When do you feel the most alive and free? Things that make you feel on cloud nine should absolutely be on your list.
If there are certain activities you want to ensure you get in, such as meditating, working out, or coaching your kid’s soccer team, make sure you jot them down too.
2. Declare your superpowers
Your business can change the world. It can do that simply by impacting someone for the better.
That’s why your business has superpowers.
So it’s super important to focus the powers your business has, so it can do it’s greatest good.
That’s why you need to have a vision for your business’ future.
What does your dream business look like? Who does it serve? What is the impact you want it to make on the world? What does your business do to make life better?
For my business, I’d like to make sure that anyone who has, or wants to start a business has access to the information and resources they need to build and grow it.
Now, that happens through content. Over time, that will expand to courses. A little further down the line, the business will provide funding for budding businesses.
And my big dream is to launch a foundation that builds small business learning and resource centers in underserved communities around the world.
The best chess players make their current moves, while always thinking several moves ahead. Even though I kind of suck at chess, I work on applying the principle to my business.
I know the path I want my business to take. And as a result, many of the decisions I make today, are with a lens to where I’m going in the future. You should do the same.
What superpowers will your business have over the next one, three, five, or even ten years out?
Take out that sheet of paper you were working with before. Then start writing out your vision. It’s ok if it isn’t crystal clear at the moment.
What’s most important is that you start creating a vision for the future.
As you’re writing, be sure to include the experience you’d like your customers to have with your business. How do you want them to feel after interacting with it?
Although your business doesn’t have feelings, your customers do. You want to make sure you design your business to treat your customers the way you want.
3. Get a waterproof superhero costume
If you’re going to be out changing the world, and spending lot’s of time at the beach, your gear has to be waterproof. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t make sense.
Your “good life” and your “world-changing business” have to be compatible. They have to work in harmony with each other to get you to your ultimate vision for all aspects of your life.
For instance, let’s say you run a crisis center for teenage girls. That center needs to be open 24-hours a day, seven days a week to assist the young ladies in need.
But at the same time, you have two active children, and you want to be a steady presence at their events.
So what do you do? Do you plan to live at the crisis center night and day? Nope.
Do you close the doors of the crisis center every time your son has a soccer game? Nope.
You get help. You get people on your team who share your vision. People who know what to do, and can serve your clients the same way that you would.
Same rules apply for just about any business. You can implement all the caring, personal touches, and efficiency your business warrants. And all that can happen without you having to be the one to execute everything.
Whether you enlist the help of real-life people, systems, or programs. It’s up to you. Just know that you can make it so your business hums without a hitch. That goes for the days when you’re deep in the trenches working on serving your customers. And it also goes for the days when you decide to play hookey.
Take out your piece of paper. Pick one thing on your list of criteria for “the good life.” Next to the criteria you selected, write down three things your business needs to do to support that lifestyle.
Here’s a quick example:
Do you see how I might make decisions in my business differently, when I align it to my “good life” criteria?
Here’s another example to show the other side of the equation. In this one, I work through how to advance my business goals, in a way takes into account my ideal lifestyle:
Now it’s your turn.
On your piece of paper, choose one of your business goals. Then brainstorm at least three potential solutions to achieve that business goal, while still maintaining your good life criteria.
You really can have it all
You only have 24 hours in a day.
So you might as well make the best use of the finite amount of time you’re given.
Enjoy life. Spend time doing the things you love. Spend time with the people you love. Do work that matters. Do work that changes the life of another soul for the better.
A fabulous use of your time, is to spend it taking control of your business.
Show it who’s boss. Let it know that you have feelings, and that you do indeed care about life outside of work.
Because if you fall apart, or get run ragged as the owner of your business, nobody wins.
Your business can change the world.
It can make people’s lives better.
Make sure one of those people is you.
Add Your Awesome Comment
Thanks for sharing this Sonia! It was a timely reminder that it’s OK to ask for help and that the business I create is here to serve ME as well as my clients.
BTW, that’s one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes. Vacation is overrated….living the good life is not. Enjoy the beach!
Sonia Thompson says
Yay Anthony! I’m so glad you’re learning that lesson. I look forward to learning more about how you start living the good life as you serve your clients.
And Seth has so many fabulous quotes. I’ve got a running file….
Thanks for stopping by!
Fimo Mitchell says
Sonia Thompson says
Great stuff Sonia!
Schedule everything! Personal & Family FIRST!
Why own a business if you have to Work all the time!!
That’s what the good life is all about!
Sonia Thompson says
It sure is Joe. I’m glad you’ve found a system that’s working well for you!
Great advice! Great Job!
Sonia Thompson says
Thanks Kaamilah! Hope you’re on your way to living the good life
Great article! A subject everyone I know including myself is dealing with work/life balance issues. Some great tips and suggestions – thanks for sharing.
Sonia Thompson says
Hey Gloria – so glad you enjoyed it! Please do let me know with how you make out with applying some of these tips. I wanna hear about you living the good life while you do your work!
Thanks for stopping by.