Koff & Associates
Insights How to Design a Balanced Life as a Business Owner
July 22, 2016

How to Design a Balanced Life as a Business Owner

A vast number of us, business owners, are fixated on implementing spontaneous, isolated strategies to move our lives forward. Yet, we haven’t stopped to ask the big question,

What do I want out of my life?

After many years of running my own life and the businesses which are part of it, I am convinced that all the strategies we act on, business-wise and personally, should flow from our thoughtfully developed big picture goals. There will be many destinations in a well-lived life but the real juice is in the journey that connects them.

Why is this important?

Well to start with it’s your life we’re talking about. If that’s not important then reading any further is wasting your time. If your life is important then surely it’s worth discovering what‘s important and planning to achieve it. As Lewis Carroll, the famed author of Alice in Wonderland said,

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

I couldn’t agree more. We must start with the big picture!

This is the first in a series of posts on how to take control of your life, and build supportable systems around you to achieve what you want. More than that, it will help you develop a plan where all your actions and strategies are consistent with each other, fuelling an acceleration towards the goals that might have escaped you before and where spontaneous, isolated strategies are eliminated in favour of complimentary, comprehensive ones.

We haven’t said anything about money, why?

Well that’s not because money isn’t important, it most certainly is. When it comes to the big picture though, money is only one component. If we’re going to get the big picture right, we’re going to have to consider the other components.
Over the years of working through this, even with financially successful clients, I have found the other components typically include but are not limited to:

Health – How is your health?

If you continue to follow the same path you’re on right now, how will your health be in 10 years? 15 years? The one absolute truth we’ve seen played out repetitively is that health can never be taken for granted. And yes, it is said that we spend the first half of our life exchanging our health for money and the next half exchanging our money to try to get our health back. If there was one thing you could change about your health, what would it be? Are you committed to making that change?

Relationships – How is the quality of your relationship with your:

  • Significant other?
  • Children?
  • Parents?
  • Employees/colleagues at work?
  • Friends/associates?
  • And strange as it may seem, with yourself?
  • For each of the above, what changes do you need to make? Are you committed to making those changes?

Spiritual/Intellectual – Do you feel connected to something bigger than you that adds meaning to your life?

And of course,

Financial – How are your finances?

Are you concerned about them in any way? Do you have financial pressures that rob your enjoyment of life? Are you running the kind of business you’re passionate about or doing the kind of work you want to do? If there was one thing you could change what would it be? Are you committed to making that change?

The fog is lifting…

You’re beginning to see a relationship between the components!

Terrific! Which is why I also agree with this Lewis Carroll’s quote:

Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

You see, if you’re out of shape, and you want to travel extensively when you retire, you’re going to have some challenges. At the very least, the type of travel you can do is going to be different from someone who has better physicality.

How to design a balanced life as a business owner

I can remember my meeting with Alan who was 55 at the time and very successful financially. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t recognize a gym even if he took a daily walk through one on the way to get his supersized burger and fries. I had him attend a planning session with his wife (still the original wife, to my surprise) but their disconnection was palpable. He was hoping to travel the world when they retired but his wife was not on the same page. “You can buy as many villas as you want” she quipped, “and visit them whenever and for however long you choose but don’t count on me to be holding your hand. I want to be near the children and grandchildren. They make me happy!” So both his health and his relationship with his wife were out of sync with his life goal.

Of course, we’ve had planning sessions too where couples are very connected but lack the finances to do much of what they really want. And we’ve had sessions, where the relationships within a family business are so acrimonious that succession planning is all but impossible.

The purpose of all this is to emphasize that our lives are like a jigsaw puzzle. We need to get the pieces properly aligned and connected in the right way to truly get the best result. These pieces are the components we need to balance so we can achieve the life we want.

Let’s talk about balance:

If I’ve learned anything from my clients over the years of practice, it has to be about focus. What you focus on, you create in your life. Focus intently on financial success and you will have it, but you might not have good health or relationships. Or you might have awesome relationships and even great finances but serious health challenges.

In truth then, we need to find the right balance and this is different for each of us. And it will likely change over time, where one component will be given greater emphasis than another but if you ignore the pursuit of balance you will pay a price.

Let’s recap our journey so far:

  • You’ve decided your life is important
  • You can see value in developing an integrated plan or simply stress testing the one you already have
  • You understand that a well-designed life will almost certainly require a balance of components
  • You are the only one who can choose the relative emphasis you will place on each component at any given time to achieve this balance.

What is next?

It’s time to design the next phase of your life or test the plan already in place. Consider the balance of components that’s right for you. Is this the mix you currently live or do you need to make some changes? If so, take your 24 hour day or a full week if your balance is weekly focused which many of our clients’ tend to favour and allocate the hours in your day or week to the components that are right for you. Now live it and check in on it.

At first you will tend to revert to the old mean so keep your allocation in front of you and measure your actual time allocation to your plan. Finesse the components and timing as needed. I would suggest you then have the same exercise completed by your significant other and then compare allocations. This will help identify existing and potential pain points that you’re either dealing with or are going to. Better start talking about these sooner rather than later. I cannot tell you how important it is to do this exercise because without doing it, nothing changes.

Let me leave you with a clue from Thomas Huxley,

The great end of life is not knowledge, but action.

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