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While technology certainly enables us to work more efficiently, there’s no doubt that it has also blurred the line between our professional and personal lives—which seems to be increasingly blurring. It can happen in unexpected moments as well: We could be simply checking a movie time on our phones, when we all of a sudden notice an email from a colleague. Before we know it we’re immersed in a three-minute read about work, while our movie date looks on baffled at what just happened.
Similarly, says YOGAMAZÉ co-founder and CEO Tracy Silver, we may be fielding texts from the babysitter when our employees interrupt with a time sensitive text that requires an immediate response. Segregating our work and personal identities has become frighteningly challenging, and as a result it can feel like we never really “clock out.” Studies have shown the negative impact of longer working hours on the health of women. Others prove that work-life imbalances can also have negative effects on personal relationships and general wellbeing.
While we may think that starting the business of our dreams, or pursuing a career that we are passionate about would alleviate those challenges—that we’d feel like we’re never working—it’s far from the reality. Entrepreneurs—particularly women—have their own unique set of challenges.
“Manifesting my vision could not be more personal,” Tracy says of her professional life as an entrepreneur, and as such she works all the time. “So do most women like me,” she says. “Nine times out of 10 I’m hard at work even when I’m nowhere near a computer or phone. I’m problem-solving, making mental lists, and so on.” Because her family is dependent on her business’ success, she considers it part of her job as a mother to make sure that her profession succeeds.
Priorities as Self-Inquiry
For women running their own businesses there is no “clocking out,” and very little predictability. Opportunities open up and disappear in a flash.
“Entrepreneurs must be in position to seize opportunities and respond to unanticipated (but sadly all too common) disasters,” says Tracy. “This means literally re-designing our lives (and family schedules) in an instant—all the time.”
Prioritizing, therefore, is a necessity for a female entrepreneur, and something to be embraced. Women are often swayed into an idea that they can “have it all” and therefore prioritizing shouldn’t be a consideration, but Tracy insists that that way of thinking can actually undermine our self-worth as women, because “no sane, self-loving woman can embody this ‘super-woman’ archetype.”
Rather, contemplating our priorities can be a beautiful inquiry. It forces us to become present to the moment and ask, “What needs my attention now?” This also allows us to be more deeply in-tune with our changing environment. Perhaps it’s clear our children need our time today, and work will have to be put on hold, while tomorrow a work opportunity may require us to cancel plans with a loved one. We have to be flexible.
Contemplating our priorities can be a beautiful inquiry. It forces us to become present to the moment and ask, “What needs my attention now?”
The practice of prioritizing also forces us to reflect on the relationships in our lives, to give thought to what those relationships need, and to consciously dedicate ourselves to others. “If you’re married or have a significant other, schedule that date night and fiercely commit to shutting your computer early and putting on lipstick to be there,” recommends Tracy. With children, commit to certain times where you can give them all your attention by leaving the phone off, or sending work-related calls to voicemail.
Time can be of the essence when running a business or building a new venture, so Tracy says she is realistic with her goals for relationships, and always favors quality over quantity. “I won’t always be home at bedtime for my kids, but I pretty religiously attempt to keep computers and phones out of the equation when I am spending dedicated time with my children,” she says.
Guilt is all too common a feeling experienced by female entrepreneurs as we face the choice of spending time with friends or loved ones. Tracy candidly says she finds it helpful to ask herself: What kind of guilt will I allow myself to feel if I permit my business goal to come before the needs or wants of my children in a given timeframe?
Similarly, female entrepreneurs can often feel guilty for taking time to unwind. It can seem like a waste, but self-care is essential for any woman seeking to run a successful business. Megan Monahan is a life coach and Director of Meditation at Wanderlust Hollywood, and says that making self-care a priority in order to feel restored physically and mentally has been a challenge for her. “Because I love what I do so much, [making that time is] sometimes hard for me,” Megan says.
Schedule a specific appointment with yourself every week to devote to your personal growth. – Tracy Silver
That’s when scheduling down-time becomes crucial, and again it’s quality over quantity. Often we can allow ourselves a “night off” only to spend it painting the new office, reading a book that serves as research for our work, or attending an event that we know could offer a networking opportunity. We essentially end up multi-tasking our down-time and not switching off at all.
Instead, try to “schedule a specific appointment with yourself every week to devote to your personal growth,” suggests Tracy. Whether it’s meditation, deep breathing, yoga, running, walking in nature, dance, listening to music, pampering, or switching off with a movie, accepting that we have limits as human beings and need to take a break—even from our passions—will help us become a healthier, more successful, and happier entrepreneur… As well as friend, mother, partner and person.
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