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Success requires unbalancing your Work-Life balance (at first)

Until it becomes self-sustainable, forget your work-life when building a new business

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Forget your work-life balance if you want success (for now, at least).

Like an infant, a new business requires constant attention and nurturing before it can become a self-sustaining adult. And to build such a business, you must first give it your sweat, blood, tears and importantly, time.

The problem becomes: how do you feed a needy business –that requires enormous time– and also “have a life”? How can you get your business off the ground while also planning weekend getaways with your family? How do you manage employees while finding time to exercise daily?

Yes, a work-life balance is important

I don’t disagree with health and career experts who tell you to divide equal time for your professional, personal, and family life. After all, my business is important to me — but so are my wife and kids. 

In totalwellnesshealth, for example, career experts say that overworking leads to stress, burnout, health problems, lower productivity, and bad team dynamics. 

Personally, I can relate. When things get rampant in my business, the longer I stare at my screen, the worse I feel. I’m groggy, drained, heavy, and spent by the end of the day. The constant grind makes me dread repeating it the next day. 

To prevent burnout, experts recommend you “unplug” and take a break. That keeps your body, mind, and business fresh, motivated, and happy. It also allows you to spend time with your family or keep up your health. A win-win for everyone — who wouldn’t want that?

But you also have to consider that when a new business starts, it’s in desperate need of attention and income to stay afloat. There’s always something new to learn, do, comply with, fulfill, fires to put out, and so on. In the midst of all that, somehow you must figure out a way to be profitable as quickly possible or you will sink. 

Clearly there’s something not adding up here. Experts and real-life experience are saying two different things.

The 10,000-hour rule says you’ve got to “do the time” 

One of my favorite Malcolm Gladwell’s books is Outliers: The Story of Success, where he tells stories of how outstanding individuals achieved success in their fields. 

Be it Bill Gates or the Canadian hockey team, their success partially came from luck, timing, and TIME SPENT perfecting their skills (i.e. the “10,000 hour rule”). He argues that success is a combination of being at the right place at the right time fueled by hustle and grit. 

OK, well, I also want to be a genius in my field, just like Bill Gates. I want to become the next featured entrepreneur in Forbes. And I’m happy to spend 10,000+ hours to learn, hone, and perfect my skills.

The only question now becomes, how can I achieve a work-life balance while running a new business and becoming an expert quick enough? 

Health / career experts say I’m supposed to “unplug” to stay productive and motivated… and that I can’t spend too much time working. 

But to start a new business, we must front load the time to get it off the ground. 

For that, I must be recognized as an expert.

And to be recognized as an expert, I need to spend a long time perfecting my skill.

Clearly, in the work-life balance equation, one part needs to give in. I have to grow my business and become an expert as quickly as possible, otherwise I’ll never achieve the critical mass necessary to make the business sustainable. I can’t have my cake and eat it too. 

That’s how the world’s most-successful people did it

The same realization echoes in the lives of the world’s most-successful business men and women. They worked hard, spent the time, and became the experts before their businesses took off. Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates exemplify that only after they applied their sweat, blood, and tears into their business were they able to have the luxury of balancing life and giving back to their family, friends, and communities. 

They were not overnight successes. Before they “made it big,” they sacrificed a lot to build a foundation. 

All businesses require this kind of sacrifice. You’ve certainly seen the statistics of how 50% of small businesses fail in their first 5 years (SBA.gov). Why is that? Mostly because they didn’t spend time researching the market, promoting themselves, building better products, or so on… all of which require time to do, learn, or perfect.

Clearly, in practice, you must unbalance the work-life balance to have success.

So does this mean you give up the dreams of relaxing in your family swimming pool and watching Netflix all day? Reading with your kids? Go hiking over the weekend? Or taking a two-month vacation to Spain?

No, but they will have to wait until you’ve built a business which generates enough income to allow you to live that life — be a great child, parent, spouse, leader, go on vacations, exercise daily, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I’m no career coach or expert or a business analyst. I’m an immigration expert so I could be wrong about the whole thing… but I’ve yet to see a mega-business whose owner didn’t hustle in the beginning. I’ve yet to see a successful 9-5 employee who didn’t spend extra hours every night before they got promoted. And I’ve yet to see a successful athlete who didn’t spend hours practicing their drills.

Success requires a momentary unbalance in the work-life balance.

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