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Are You a Slave to Your Business? Uncover 3 Ways to Break Free Today

As seen on Forbes.

Feels like jail sometimes.Are You a Slave to Your Business?  Uncover 3 Ways to Break Free

What?  Well, owning a business.

On one hand, so much freedom and control; on the other, chained to our desks. I mean, at the end of the day, it falls on us, right? We’ve got stuff to do and sometimes we’re the only ones to do it.

More emails to send. More phone numbers to dial. More decisions to make.

Well, the other day, I said, “Enough.” Here’s the story that woke me up…

My oldest daughter heading to the doctor. Big gash in her foot from a swimming accident, needing to finally have the stitches removed.

“Can you come please, daddy?” Well, honey …

You can probably guess the rest. More emails to send. More phone numbers to dial. More decisions to make.

So off she went with her stepmom — and without me. After five minutes of getting back to work, it hit me.

“This is ridiculous. I own this place. If I want to leave, there’s nothing stopping me… except myself!

Jumped in the car and raced to the doctor. Got there just in time to sit by her side; hold her hand; and comfort her while the doctor tugged out each stitch.

Driving home, I cried. Never again would I be a slave to this business of mine.

So here are 3 simple ways you and I can break free:

1.)   Set boundaries and keep them. It is critical to establish the boundaries between work and the other parts of your life. We desperately need balance. But first, you have to create an environment to achieve balance. Decide what days and during what times you’re not going to do business. If you make a commitment to not work on Sundays, then don’t work on Sundays. If you’ve made a commitment to your family to be home by 6:00 PM every night for dinner, then get your tail home by 6:00 PM. No excuses.

2.)   Take off from your business suddenly and randomly. Probably the most fun of all. Make a habit of just leaving your business, without planning, and go do something out of the ordinary. Go to the museum at the drop of a hat. Go to the movies and catch a flick. Go have an ice cream cone in the park. Just do something to remind yourself that you own the place. Goodness gracious; grant yourself the pleasure of enjoying one of the perks of ownership. It’s called freedom.

3.)   Schedule lunch once a week with your spouse, child or friend and don’t talk about business. Seriously, avoid tunnel vision while trapped inside your business. Wake up to your other relationships. Schedule precious time to spend with loved ones during work hours. You cannot imagine how impactful this is on those relationships. Plus, it helps you keep perspective on what’s important. And guess what? It actually gives you more clarity when it’s time to get back to work. You can just see things better.

So what are you waiting for? Start these 3 ways today and I promise you’ll never regret it. If you can think of other ways to break free, love your comments below.

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About the Author: Eric T. Wagner is a husband, father and life-long entrepreneur. After starting multiple businesses, Eric is now focused on helping other entrepreneurs find the path to success in business and life. You can also catch his gig on Forbes or connect with him on Google+.

Comments

  1. I don’t think the work-life balance is discussed enough. Especially amongst business owners and entrepreneurs.

    It’s very easy to get glued to your desk for 15+ hours a day. Making it a point to purposely set the time aside to enjoy your family and life will give you that added boost and vitality needed for your business to thrive.

    Another great tip is to shut down the devices for a while. Smart phone, tablet, laptop, whatever it is, shut it off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an email or some distracting bit of information fed to me electronically that sucked me right back… stellar article, Eric!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Jason. Great feedback on shutting down the electronic stuff. You’re right, it can pull you back in SO easily. I guess that’s where determined focus comes in and the ability to hold firm boundaries. Lord knows I need to work on it for sure… :-) Thanks for sharing Jason.

  2. We start a business for the freedom and control, yet we seldom take advantage of the freedom or exercise control over our time and thoughts. We let the seemingly pressing, yet unimportant tasks take over our business and personal lives.

    When breaking free from your business to spend time with your loved ones, I think the important thing is to remind yourself that you not only need to be physically present for them, but mentally and emotionally as well.

    Of course, this is easier said than done. My father is 87-years-old and I am constantly reminded of how little time we have left with each other. Yet, when we go for our weekly morning walks, I often find myself thinking about work instead of treasuring our precious time together. It’s definitely a struggle. I just have to make a conscious effort to be “in the moment” in everything I do.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Bingo Jeanne. You hit the nail on the head. Being able to focus and not get distracted is a huge part of truly being free. You’re right, who wants to be in jail “in your mind” while taking a peaceful walk with your father? As you’ve pointed out, truly breaking free involves your body, spirit, heart and mind. A discipline which takes practice, practice, practice. Thanks Jeanne. Great feedback.. :-)

  3. Eric!!! I love this man. I totally agree, and I’ve always loved the freedom of being an entrepreneur.

    I’d like to offer a small addition:

    Set boundaries and limits when your body + life are calling for them.

    If you are passionately enjoying every second, barely sleeping, and annoyed that you even feel sleepy occasionally, you are probably following your heart and passion and doing good things.

    If you feel more energized, more loving, better, and so on when you’re working on your business, respond to that inner-call.

    Work-balance as you’ve described here is vital, but only when your body/mind/heart/circumstances are telling you to make a change.

    Many bands and artists and entrepreneurs sequester themselves in the studio for large chunks of time, living and breathing their work. From them we get some of the world’s most intense beauty + entertainment + innovations.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Jason. Great feedback. And I agree it is sometimes imperative to block out huge chunks of time to really create something unbelievable. BUT, I still think you need to take a break after doing so. I’ve seen way to many people work their tales off with no breaks, only to crash hard on the other side. Meaning? They look back with serious regrets on how they spent their time. I guess in the end, it’s really up to each individual though, right? :-) Thanks Jason. Really appreciate it…

  4. As others have pointed out, I think it is about having balance. It can be overwhelming sometimes if you are the owner of a small business. Especially if you run the business, keep the books, manage the accounts, etc. If your a one man band, so to speak, taking the time to relax, focus on relationships, or just take some time off, is hard to do.

    I like the suggestion to take time off randomly and without notice. After all, if your the owner, take advantage of that perk. . . . It can be nice to be the boss sometimes!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Alan. Appreciate the feedback.

      And you’re right, the fun one is taking off randomly and without notice. A good reminder for yourself of one of the reasons you became an entrepreneur to begin with… :-)

  5. Hey Eric I totally share in your sentiments. It seems like we all want to escape the corporate cubicle cell only to walk into another cell which is int he room right down the hall!

    Although I am not a full-time entrepreneur just yet, even I sometimes can feel like a prisoner to my business so I operate under a very strict schedule and make time for myself (work out, read), my wife (quality time, dinner) and my business (produce mode)!

    I think we all have the time but its the management of our time on which some folks falter. Great read and thanks fot the tips!

    By the way, have you read ‘The Compound Effect’? Helped me greatly to manage my time and become a better producer. I highly recommend it.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Hector. Good feedback. Have not read the book you mentioned, but will add it to my list. And great point on it really being the management of our time. You’re right, at the end of the day it’s a choice. Plain and simple. Thanks for sharing… :-)

  6. Eric,

    Good stuff!

    If you have a family, you have to find enough time to for them.

    It’s all about balance and communication.

    When they know the time you are working and when you are not available will make the family life much easier.

    Naturally, emergencies are a whole different story. Then you focus fully on just to your family.

    Cheers,
    Timo

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hi Timo… Thanks for the kindness. And yes, communication with your family is a HUGE part of it. If my wife has dinner on the table at 5pm expecting me there, and I am not and haven’t communicated, bang. Sets the stage for trouble….

      Thanks Timo. :-) Eric

  7. Eric, this is such a powerful story – thank you for sharing it with us.

    I don’t think there are any easy answers when it comes to “balancing” family and work.

    I’m constantly plagued by self-doubt. Am I spending too much time away from my business? Or am I spending too much time away from my daughter?

    I just started reading this book called “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing” by George Cloutier.

    The book is good, but he also advocates working your ass off – including on Sundays, and though he doesn’t come right out and say it, I definitely get the sense he thinks family should be put on the back burner. So that’s a real turn-off for me.

    I think that going full-throttle is easier if you don’t have kids or elderly relatives to take care of. Or if you’ve made a decision that you’re just going to outsource parenting to someone else (whether that’s your partner or a paid caretaker).

    But I’ve met so many men who are now in their 50s and 60s who did just that and now regret it because they have terrible relationships with their children.

    Anyway, forgive my rambling. This is an area I feel really strongly about, but I remain conflicted. I’m a total type A and overachieving workaholic, but at the same time I’m passionate about being a mother – so it’s really hard for me to figure out how to strike that balance.

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks for sharing Carmen… And yes, it is a tough balancing act, especially as most of us entrepreneurs are extreme type A.

      But, the way I look at it? I would rather error on the side of spending too much time with family, then spending too much time on business. Seriously, when you get to the bittersweet end of your life, you’re not going to be laying there with your family by your side going: “Ah, bummer. I sure wish I would have spent more time at work. I surely missed out on pushing more paper around my desk and having more wonderful meetings… ”

      Yes, overkill. But true none the less. Pouring love into our closest relationships is what truly matters. And that’s something you can’t outsource.

      Keep fighting for your family Carmen. You’ll never regret it… :-) Eric

  8. As Michael Garber said in Emyth that every entrepreneur should work on the business not in the business. (It is simple but not an easy thing to do)

    If you are working in your business then I would say it is the worst job one can have.

    I can totally relate to your story and fully agreed with your 3 step formula (especially finishing work at 6 whatever happens) for a balance life because work never finish especially if you are an entrepreneur.

    What a coincident it is 6.00 PM here exactly, so I am off :-)

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Rana. Appreciate your input. You’re right, work as an entrepreneur is NEVER finished. Thus, balance, balance, balance… :-)

  9. Eric,

    That’s a really nice post and a great reminder of why I left corporate America to start my own business. I really like the part about taking time unexpectedly. I had “planned” that into my business as surfing (I live in northern california) is best done on weekdays.

    I’m not taking advantage of that enough. I need to put that and other benefits back into my lifestyle more often!

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Thanks Tom. And yes, go grab your surfboard and catch a wave today…. (And if there’s no surf? Take your surfboard for an ice cream cone.) It may feel weird (as a type A), but you’ll get over it… :-)

  10. Eric,

    I love the idea of taking off randomly from business. So freeing…

    I’m going to do that… Soon.

    Ryan H.

  11. It’s strange, before I got up this morning I was reading a post on Zen Habits about the habits that crush us which struck quite a chord with me. Getting obsessed by work is one of mine. It’s in my head morning, noon and night (you really don’t want to hear my internal dialogue!).

    I do, however, get a childish pleasure in taking of Thursday afternoon off. Even if I do end up in IKEA with my wife. It gives me that little bit of oxygen to keep going.

    Now, if I could just stop stressing about work in the evening after I’ve supposed to have knocked off….

    • Eric T. Wagner says:

      Hi Mike. Good for you to have the wisdom to take Thursday afternoons off. And just spending time with our loved ones is what counts. My wife and I grab a sandwich at the grocery store on Fridays, drive to the forest, and sit in the car with the heater on eating lunch and talking. Best part of the week for me… :-) Thanks for sharing Mike.

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