We hear it over and over again: “Success requires sacrifice. You can’t have it all”.
If you want to be successful with your business or career, you will have to buckle down and get ready to pay a steep price in your personal life.
This is how most people think and live. Yet there’s a minority of people, let’s call them role models, who have found a way to end this age-old and unforgiving compromise. I know this because I searched the globe for them. I wrote a book about what they can teach us – and this is how I have chosen to live my own life.
Within the last decade these role models have each created amazing companies from scratch. They’ve built multi-million, if not billion, dollar fortunes, and they’ve done so in a respectful and sustainable way. The interesting part is that WHILE they have built their businesses, they have found ways to enjoy life, stay true to themselves, and in general have enjoyed a healthy work-life balance.
Regarding myself—I work an average of 45 hours per week. I have six weeks of vacation every year where I travel the world. I spend tons of time with my daughter, my wife, my family and friends. I run marathons and work out 4 times every week.
During the last seven years, my co-founders and I have built start-ups that currently employ over 200 people. We’ve had a couple of really nice exits, created Europe’s leading accelerator, Startupbootcamp, and my co-author Jordan Milne and I have authored the afore mentioned book, Winning Without Losing –an international bestseller translated into 11 languages, and winner of the “Management Book of the Year” award by Chartered Management Institute and The British Library.
Success and a great work/life balance are definitely more compatible than most of us would think. But it does require some intelligent strategies. Here are six of the most important ones:
1: Make a decision
What’s most important in your life? Ask that question, and many of us are quick to answer our health, loved ones, and well-being. But what do we do when we get stressed about work? Most people are much more inclined to cancel their work out or the trip to the zoo with the family, than to miss a deadline. Of course, it’s important to do the work you have promised to do, but if you don’t stick up for your work/life balance, you are not going to have it.
2: Believe it is possible
The big problem is that deep down most of us don’t believe we can be both successful and balanced. If we don’t believe it, we don’t stand a chance. Perception becomes reality. That’s why we need inspiration from those brave few that are already living this new paradigm—those who are enjoying balance while being immensely successful. Keep imposing such people’s wisdom on yourself until you truly believe that work-life balance is possible. Winning Without Losing is one source of such inspiration.
3: Create the playing ground you need
I will be the first to admit that not all circumstances allow for work/life balance. Ten years ago I was a management consultant with a successful global consulting firm.
No matter what I did, balance there was impossible. You can almost say that “non-balance” was built into the DNA of this particular firm, and there was no way a junior consultant could change that. So I quit, and started my own company. Since then I have had more fun and success than I could have achieved at my past position. I am not saying you need to quit your job, I am only stating that some circumstances are impossible for balance, and if you are stuck in such a scenario, you might want to re-evaluate your options.
4: Focus on the wildly important
It’s amazing how much we all get trapped by the idea that everything is equally important and needs to be done right now. In reality, one or two things are absolutely critical to our progress while the rest of our tasks might only be of marginal relevance. When Richard Branson is running a multi-billion dollar empire, it’s not because he has found a way to do thousands of more actions a day than you can. It’s because Sir Branson knows what truly matters, and that’s where he allocates his attention.
5: Optimize hours in flow
Many of us aim to optimize the amount of hours we are working. This approach will never bring us a good balance or out-of-the-norm efficiency. Instead optimize on the amount of hours you are in flow.
Flow is the state where time and place ceases to exist because you are fully present and excited about the task in front of you. In this state it is not unusual that we are up to 10 times more efficient then when we semi-distractedly slave through our to do list. Tony Schwartz explains in “The Power of Full Engagement” how we can only be the flow state for 90-120 minutes at a time.
Then we need a break, like for instance a 10-minute meditation, a 30-minute run, or a walk around the block.
6: Do the worst first
Procrastination. Say the word. It’s a productivity killer and an enemy in our attempts
to get a great work/life balance. If it’s something that needs to be done, and you dread it, there’s really only one strategy that is sufficiently effective: do it first.
Before checking your mail, before the first meeting, and before anything else that will suck you into the daily abyss of activities. Do it now and get it over with. You will be proud, relieved and full of energy for the rest of the day.
These are just 6 of the 66 pieces of advice that make up Winning Without Losing. If you are hungry for more, join the thousands of other readers from around the world who are taking their lives into their own hands. Get the balance you deserve.
Martin Bjergegaard is a serial entrepreneur, co-founder of sustainable Scandinavian non-fiction publisher Pine Tribe, and author of the successful management and work-
life balance book ‘Winning Without Losing’.