Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
I’ve been in Washington, D.C. for a four-day conference and only now have some time to catch up on emails and write a post or two. I’m sorry for the radio silence. Are you keeping warm?
This post is business related, since I’m still working on setting up shop and want to bring you along for the ride, but it’s also inspired by today’s celebrations of love.
A lot of entrepreneurial resources talk about that elusive work-live balance. They offer tips on how to stay on top of your never-ending business demands and still meet family obligations. If you ask any entrepreneur, most would say that work-life balance is a constant struggle, despite all of these resources, and it’s often a cause of guilt and stress. What these resources don’t say is how to mitigate the guilt that you’ll often feel at times when you’re absent from your loved ones.
Personally, it’s my main concern about launching the shop and I sometimes feel guilty about the very fact that I want to start a business. Isn’t what I have enough? Yes, yes it is. Can’t I just keep my life simple, work during the day and have my nights to myself? Sure I could. But I believe in the shop’s mission to help support Canada’s sustainable fashion designers, and I want to eventually work for myself, working on this. This venture, this shop is, I know, the way to make that happen. So how do I deal with the guilt? How do I kick it in the pants and tell it to scram? I get proactive.
I’m honest with Olivier about my fears of neglecting our relationship and those with my friends and family. I tell him that I’m going to do my best to make sure he feels and knows that no matter what, he’s my priority. When push comes to shove, those I love will always take precedence over my career. Is this a poor attitude for an entrepreneur to have? Some would say yes, but I disagree.
If my “sustainable” business venture doesn’t allow me to sustain my personal bonds, it isn’t really sustainable, is it? I don’t subscribe to the business model that says that you have to be a slave to work and put everything on the line, even love, for the bottom line. Sure, you have to make sacrifices, but it’s important to define them so that you don’t find yourself isolated from those you hold dear.
I’ve made sure that Olivier knows that my days will be quite regimented: day work, evening work, often weekends. This way, he can prepare himself for many nights doing his own thing. And believe me, he doesn’t mind one bit. I knew he wouldn’t, but I feel better knowing that I’ve prepared him for what’s to come. I’ll also make sure to carve out time with him, and with family and friends, no matter how much is on my plate. It’s important to have a break from work and to relax your mind, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Being with friends and family is therapeutic for me, a much-needed reboot.
Oli and I’ve also agreed not to talk a lot about the business. It’s going to be a home-based venture, so it’ll inevitably be a part of our day, but that doesn’t mean that it should dominate our conversations. I have a great network of friends and mentors with whom I can talk business with. When I’m home and we’re relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine, we can talk about anything but.
Before I was in a relationship, I was often busy with side projects and sometimes I felt guilty not seeing my friends as often as I wanted to. So I’d shoot them an email or give them a ring to say that I was going to be absent for the next little while and that I hoped they understood. Of course they did. And this is where today’s theme of love comes in.
I love my boyfriend, my family, and my friends. This is why I tell them when I’m going to be busy and absent and that I hope they’ll understand and forgive me. What’s important for you to know is that love goes both ways and love is trust. I’ve had to learn that I can also love my friends and family by trusting in their love for me and trusting that even if I didn’t alert them to my absence, they’d understand and not hold it against me.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and guilty of not giving your loved ones the time and attention they deserve, be proactive and honest. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and surprise you with their understanding, patience and love. Trust in their love for you and carry on with your venture. Lead with your heart and you’ll never go astray.