Balancing Act

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

Thanks for the calls! I received several calls from business owners who read my article in Small Business Times last month about achieving a healthy balance between work and personal life. The owners who called had corporate pre-tax earnings between $500,000 and $1.5 million, and they continue to struggle with achieving a healthy work-life balance.

So what gives? Here’s my response to those owners.

Make it a priority.

You have got to want it. To achieve a proper work-life balance, you must identify this as a priority in your life. Thinking about it and hoping it will happen won’t make it a reality.

Therefore, if you are truly committed to adding free time away from work, then follow your own example in building a successful business. Start by creating your definition of success (your personal vision). Then establish free day goals for the entire year.

All right, you are already struggling with this concept, aren’t you? You’re reading this thinking, "There is no way I can plan the number of free days I will take for the entire year. There are too many unpredictable variables outside of my control that would disable my ability to even bother trying this."

For those of you thinking this way, let’s go back to a business example. You didn’t reach $500,000 to $1.5 million in annual pre-tax earnings without building a financial, a staffing and a marketing plan for each fiscal year, did you?

I mean, it wasn’t just coincidental that you achieved your current level of success year after year. In other words, in business you overcame many unpredictable variables outside of your control to achieve financial success. Congrats! Now, do the same thing in your personal life. Just as you’ve planned your business success, now apply the same logic by planning for free time success within your personal life and plan this for the next 12 months.

Identify the number of free days each year that you feel will rejuvenate you and your key personal relationships. Plan it out for the next 12 months. Share with your spouse and children, or the significant others in your life, your new goals which involve them as well as time to yourself. Gain their buy-in and support. Then execute your free time plan.

What is free time?

As a point of clarity, free time, or a free day, is simply a day away from work. I used to struggle with this and from time to time I still fall into some of my old habits. But, time away means no files, no phone and no e-mail.

If you try hard enough, you will have no trouble finding a way to justify sneaking a little work in here and there, but then be honest and call that a work day, not a free day. The whole idea of a free day is to unplug, disconnect and turn it off. For many people, if you’ve plugged into work on a free day, mentally and emotionally you have disabled your ability to allow yourself to recharge, rejuvenate and fully connect with your significant other. 

Accelerate your company’s growth.

Accelerate your company’s growth by narrowing your focus. Owners of companies that generate significant earnings are in the best position to accelerate growth while improving free time. These owners have the financial resources to expand their company’s bandwidth, while narrowing their personal focus to the things they are most qualified to do. When owners of highly profitable businesses are working unhealthy amounts of hours, it usually means one of the following:

1. Work truly is their No. 1 priority.

2. They haven’t invested in or succeeded at building a quality management team capable of operating

the business.

3. They don’t have proper controls

in place that provide them with performance visibility in all the right areas.

4. They are micro managers.

If you’ve generated $1 million plus in pre-tax earnings multiple times, you understand it’s not about you. It’s about your team understanding your clients’ needs, your vision for the organization, the team you’ve built, management’s ability to manage and communicate, the controls that create visibility about performance, and it’s also about letting good people do good work.

This implies you’re focusing on the things that you are uniquely the best at, while your team is focusing on the things that they are uniquely the best at. This creates accelerated corporate growth and more free time for the business owner. As business owners experience greater and greater financial success, they need to make an effort to shed the responsibilities that they are not the most qualified to handle. When they were smaller, in terms of earnings, they didn’t have the choice, but they do now.

Philip Mydlach is the owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement practice in Waukesha. He can be reached at (262) 662-4646 or

– September 16, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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