You must sacrifice work-life balance to build something great.
I am very tired.
It’s 11.54pm on a Thursday night. I haven’t gone to bed before midnight any day this week. Or last week. Next week isn’t looking too good either. As soon as I finish writing this, I’ll head to bed and set my alarm for 5.30am.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll work for a few hours, then head to my day job as a copywriter. Then during lunch, when my co-workers head out together, I’ll sit in a food court by myself and send prospecting emails. This Saturday, I’ll be up at 5.30am again.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. I make enough money to live a comfortable life. But I want more. And I’ve realised that when it comes to building something great, work-life balance is a luxury that should be dropped as quickly as you can kick it.
Over the past year as I’ve been building my business, I’ve tried to observe what other small business owners are doing and how they act. For those that have day jobs, running a business is a huge time-sink. But I’ve also noticed something — they’re trying to both grow their business, and get in as much leisure time as they can.
And it doesn’t work.
If we as business owners want to succeed, and really succeed to the point where you can become self-sustainable, why do you expect to be able to send 100 pitches to prospective clients on a weekend when you also want to play golf with your buddies, watch the latest TV shows, and catch up on some reading?
You can’t. Sorry. It can’t be done.
You’ve got to ditch your hobbies.
And if you don’t realise why it’s so important you do that now, then you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on.
I’ll use myself as an example, if only because I’m the person I know the most about.
I love videogames. Love them. I write for videogame publications, I love reading about new trends in the industry, I’ve attended either E3 or GDC for the past four years.
In the past four weeks, I’ve played about 20 minutes of a videogame in total.
I was speaking about that to a friend of mine recently. “I think I’d kill myself if I didn’t play videogames for that long,” he said. Facetiously, of course. And good for him — he’s happy. But I know that I can’t sit around and play Bloodborne while there are pitching emails that go unsent.
Reading. Television. Movies.
All gone. I get up, do some work, go to my day job, sit in the food court at lunch, do more work, go home, eat dinner, then get back to work.
On Sunday nights, when everyone else is relaxing in front of the TV, I’m writing editions of my newsletter.
You know what the funny thing is? I don’t miss it. I don’t miss sitting on the couch and losing myself in television shows and whatever else. I’m much happier putting in the effort .
I’m not saying everyone needs to work 17 hours a day. I’m not saying give up everything in existence. Hell, I still watch Game of Thrones on a Monday. (Although that’s pretty much all I watch these days.)
If you’re not building a business, then who cares? Do you thing. But if you’re trying to juggle a day job and a growing business entity, then you can’t afford to give yourself the luxury of work-life balance. For you, it’s simply not going to exist.
Of course, give yourself some down time. 24 or 48 hours when you don’t do much client work and focus on family. I have a wife and a two year old, and I promised her my time between 7pm Friday and 7pm Sunday was all family. And I’m cool with that. But that also means during that time I’m not out doing my own thing or playing golf with buddies. I’m with them.
And so I miss a lot of opportunities and get-togethers. Because that’s what it takes.
Because you know what else? In my industry, copywriting, there are a tonne of people who show up in search results. You can hire writers now for peanuts. Most of them are crap, but it doesn’t matter. They’re out there. How can I possibly compete against them?
I’ll tell you how. By refusing to give in to the notion of work-life balance while building this business. By working harder than they do. Every day.
So if you’re building a small business alongside a day job, and trying to maintain some work-life balance?
Ditch the hobbies. Just for a while. And you’ll be amazed at just how successful you’ll be.