Monday, May 9, 2016

Small Business Man (7) - Balance

Historically, I've been pretty bad at living in the moment. I'm not known for being spontaneous or carefree, but rather very calculated and an observer. Therefore, a big motivation for pursuing YourSuit was simply to break my normal regime and start something. I've become an avid reader on Quora lately (if you haven't checked it out, I'd highly recommend it) and I constantly read about how one of the hardest things to do in life is to start something. Most people think about it but never do, i.e. get in shape, learn a new language, ask out a girl on a date, write a book, etc. Thinking is much easier than doing. So, I went out on a limb and did something.

In the beginning, everything was new and microscopic, so business matters never took a whole lot of time. Or, the experiences were new, so it didn't feel like work as much as it was an adventure. But as things grow and progress, time and space start to diminish. We've all heard the phrase there aren't enough hours in the day, and I find that's very true as you get older.

Which brings me to the topic of balance. Specifically, work and life balance. It's a bit ironic to be writing about it at this time of year because - being an accountant by trade - the month of April is not the time to be talking about work and life balance. Tax season is at the forefront in April and May, so there's no such thing as a standard working day. Weekends of doing nothing are also a rarity.

However, I'm now starting to really understand the importance of balance, especially when you are at your busiest. With wedding season approaching, things have really picked up at YourSuit and I've felt short on time; it's made me stressed, impatient and occasionally burned out. I had a conversation with my Dad the other night while we were at the gym together about his career; he's approaching retirement (an image I find hard to conceptualize given that he's probably the hardest worker I know) and I asked him what he plans on doing once he leaves the workforce.

He listed a few traditional items while we were warming up on the elliptical, like travelling, spending more time with family, but he mentioned something that kind of hit me. He told me not to live with the intention of retiring.

"What if you don't make it to retirement?" he asked, rhetorically. "What if you die young? Or, let's say you make it to retirement; that doesn't mean your health will be the same it is now."

I kind of stared at him blankly for a second, then glanced at the elliptical display to see how many calories I had burned.

"I think the worst thing anyone could do is delay things until retirement," he continued. "Sure, people need to plan for the future and stuff, but people should just live, too. You never know what will happen in the future; wouldn't it be a shame to make extravagant plans and never get to do them?"

With this in mind, I've started doing something that I've never done before in my life: I've started blocking off sections in my calendar for rest. I mean, I've booked vacations before, but those are bigger life events. Working independently can cause stressful problems; it's hard to force yourself to take time off or get your mind off work. I've now made an effort to block off small increments, like a free evening here, or blocking out the odd weekend to rest and do something completely unrelated to my daily routine. It's a bit foreign to me, but it's creating stress relief, and I find that it's helping me with my work life balance.

So to all those who are a bit stressed out, don't forget to take care of yourself.

To close, I'll end with a great quote from the Dalai Lama (which I pulled from Quora):

Man surprised me the most about humanity, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then, he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.