It is difficult to achieve balance in our lives. Balance means different things to different people and for most of us, other people affect those different areas that we are trying to keep in harmony!
As a contractor, you may juggle multiple clients and all of their priorities (plus any additional commitments you make) conspire to keep you busy. It’s important to understand your “tipping point”. If you want to do a good job, be successful and be fulfilled by your work then it needs to be enough to achieve that end, without adversely affecting the other parts of your life.
At home you may have family commitments, hobbies and activities that you commit to, self-improvement projects or health targets all of which require time and energy. You may also be involved in charitable work or other not for profit work that needs your time and skills.
There are always going to be demands on your time and it is up to you to determine where you want to put the emphasis. For some people, family and home life is the only priority and earning money is a necessary evil to pay the bills. For others, work is a huge priority because it is fulfilling. For most there is a middle ground where success at work is important, but family is equally important. Regardless of the scenario, there will always be certain periods when the balance tips one way or another, but as long as it is temporary its all good.
None of the above is wrong in any way shape or form but the disconnect may come in expectations. The contractor who is not willing to put the same amount of effort into a project/client as the next contractor may still expect the same kind of results. Equally, the contractor who devotes all their energy to their clients cannot reasonably expect to have the same kind of time at home as the person who makes family and home their top priority.
The ONLY way to achieve YOUR balance is to know yourself, to understand your motivations and adjust your expectations accordingly. Success in anything will always bring some kind of compromise and hitting the right “balance” to suit your needs will lead to a life that is full and rewarding.
To discover the right life balance for you, ask yourself:
How much difference would it make to your life if you put in a few extra hours or a few less hours for your clients each week?
Can you find a way to get to 90% of your children’s activities — soccer, hockey, dance etc.? Is that enough? Would you settle for less?
Would you accept a less fulfilling, lower paying or less demanding contract if it meant you could spend more time with your family? More time doing your hobby? More time working with non-profit organizations?
Is the time you spend with your family maximized now? How much time is spent in front of a TV? How much time is spent interacting with your family?
Do you dash home from work right at 5pm and do nothing? Or dive into a passion (hobby, etc.)? Or spend quality time with your family?
How many hours of your week are productive in the context of all your activities? Is the mix right? Are you “wasting” too much time?
If you were hit by a bus tomorrow, would you have regrets about what you have done with your life? If so, then what would you do differently?
If you ask yourself the hard questions about how you live your life, it can lead to a different perspective and with a little planning could lead to small changes that make big differences and subsequently increased satisfaction.
Fortunately, the flexibility afforded as a business owner and independent contractor can be very beneficial in achieving your goals. We are all different and you only get one shot at this, so make the most of it.
Where do you stand? How do you balance your business and family life?