Whether it’s business, sport, learning a new skill or looking after your wellbeing—achieving successful results requires sacrifice. There is simply no way around this. Consider it one of the physical laws of the universe.
Starting and running a company, as you know, requires an incredible amount of sacrifice, especially time and energy. It also requires a capacity for risk-taking, and a heightened resilience to pressure and stress. If things go well, the reward is the fulfilment of both your personal and professional dreams, as well as an invaluable amount of personal growth (the latter is also the case when things don’t go well, for there are a lot of positive lessons from ‘failure’ too).
So, yes, to have success—whatever that means to you—you’re going to have to make sacrifices. The question is, what do you sacrifice? This is something you really should sit down and consider, because too many entrepreneurs, when wrapped up in the excitement and stimulation of starting a business, can either end up sacrificing too much or sacrificing the wrong things. The result? Losing important relationships, missing potentially memorable moments, burnout, and being left in the unenviable (and silly) position of achieving your personal dreams but feeling miserable and lonely. Not good. Not good at all.
One way to stop this is to get conscious about your sacrifices. Write down (in order) what you’re willing, and not willing, to sacrifice to stay on your path and ensure that your journey and destination are pleasant and harmonious rather than ruinous.
Here are two questions and a suggestion for you to consider when working out what and how to sacrifice:
What do I value?
Ask yourself what things you’d really miss or be devastated to lose if they had to disappear tomorrow. Your family? Your physical and mental wellbeing? A particular hobby or sport? Being able to walk in nature or swim in the sea? Or something even simpler, like ordering a coffee in a café and spending 40 minutes people-watching?
The things you hold dear may vary in significance and depth, but anything that truly makes you feel happy and content should be firmly held on to, because when all is said and done, it’ll be these aspects of your life, these moments and memories, that will have the most meaning.
When considering what to sacrifice, write down the ten things you most value, in the order of their value, and see if you’re able to apportion more time to the top ones and less to the others. Of course, the things we place value on change over time so what you prioritise will change with it, so take time out every so often to reassess what you value, and how you plan to keep them solidly in your life while still pursuing your business ambitions.
How can I make more time?
Yes, we all have the same number of hours in day (even though it sometimes might not seem like it!), but there are ways of cleverly managing these hours to fit in as much as possible without (i) over-stretching yourself and (ii) compromising those valuable things mentioned above.
One of the easiest way to ‘buy’ time is simply to get up an hour earlier. Use that time to indulge in one of those things you value but sometimes have to sacrifice—going to gym or for a bike ride, reading, meditation, etc. Not only will you start the day feeling refreshed, you’ll seem to gain an extra hour once work is finished to spend on more valuable things, like having dinner with your family and/or going for a walk.
Diarise your sacrifices
Just as you diarise all the important things you need to do during the day, schedule your sacrifices you can open up more time for yourself without having to compromise on the valuable things.
For instance, do some extra work once everyone has gone to bed; spend some money/employ someone to lighten your load; learn to delegate (!); skip ‘TV time’ for a session at the gym or a run; turn down a social event you don’t really need to attend and use that time to catch up on work that you might have had to do on the weekend…
As we concluded at the beginning of this article, achieving anything worthwhile is always going to require sacrifice, but there are ways of doing that in clever, considered ways so that it doesn’t always have to be a direct trade-off between work and life. Simply put, work out what doesn’t matter/add value to your life, and replace those with the things that do.