So many entrepreneurs get caught in a trap: They started their own businesses for freedom, flexibility, creativity, and innovation. And yet, they find themselves in the weeds of never-ending tasks, to-dos, and fires to put out, stealing their energy for possibility seeking (let alone the fun and enjoyment, and spark they once felt for their business).
Entrepreneurs with families face a slightly different challenge: They want that same spark and freedom in their business at the same time as wanting to raise up the next generation of thoughtful leaders and innovative change makers. They want to be present, whether they’re working or with their families. And they want to bring the same intention they have for their business and success into their homes, around their tables with their kids and loved ones.
But for so many entrepreneurs with families, it doesn’t seem possible to wear all the hats and do it all well. They feel like they never have enough time, or enough bandwidth, or enough support to be the intentional leader at work AND at home that they want to be.
See, I felt the very same way for a really long time… like I was hustling and pouring so much into my business, and reaching these great milestones while feeling depleted, stressed, and anxious at home.
I wasn’t able to show up as the mom and the leader I knew I was destined to be. So I took a step back, looked at my habits and routines, and found there were 3 things I needed to change if I wanted to step into the shoes of a family-first entrepreneur I so desperately wanted to fill. Here’s what I found needed to shift — and amazingly, I’ve shared these 3 mistakes with countless other entrepreneurs who have since been able to step into a space of more abundance as soon as they addressed (ahem, and fixed) them:
Mistake #1: Living in reactionary mode.
Do you feel like, despite your deep desire to float up out of the weeds of your life, it just doesn’t seem to happen? No matter how hard you work, how much you get done, how many things you launch, how many clients you bring on, how much you hire, there’s still an element of the hamster wheel?
As someone who’s walked through this many times, I’m here to remind you that it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re called to a life of possibility where you really heed that call to your purpose in business and with your family, you won’t find that life in a reactionary state. It will forever feel like it is just out of your reach.
The main solution is that you need to be willing to do your homework, to change your actual routines and rhythms, both in business and as a family. Your habits need to mirror the feelings and outcomes you want to create.
So, start with the end in mind. What do you want? What do you crave? If you look at your life, are you living in congruence with that craving? Are you actually working towards it? Are you making it happen?
Proactive leaders have the discipline to not start with the “low-hanging fruit” tasks that allow them to check the box quickly. Instead, they first choose the mission-critical tasks that require their leadership and presence, the things that matter most.
Mistake #2: Waiting for “someday.”
Have you convinced yourself that this is just a season? Are you saying things like: “When we finally do X, then we can actually do Y”? Do you feel overwhelmed and overworked, like you’re constantly putting out fires and you’re beginning to realize that it might not be just a season, but it might just be your life?
The truth is, how we show up in the little ways and our day-to-day habits are more important than the massive shifts or big changes. The impact we can make is going to be determined more by the micro-decisions that make up our days. So, stop living for the “someday” because you’re going to miss the opportunity to actually make a difference while you wait around for someday.
The first thing that is going to help you get one step closer to stop living for someday, and making a difference in the present, is identifying your non-negotiables and having them appear on your calendar today and every single day.
If you never draw the line in the sand and clarify what’s really important to you, then you’ll end up doing what’s expected of you. When we’re not sure what we really want, we do what we think other people want us to do or we think we need to do what other people do despite it working against what we desire.
Once you have your non-negotiables, the next step is determining your best “YESes” and your “NOT FOR MEs”. What exists in your life right now that might feel important, or even urgent or obligatory, but it’s really not for you? When we can let these things go, and stay in alignment with what truly matters, we’ll be able to shift the focus and start living out our “someday,” today.
Mistake #3: Losing your entrepreneurial mojo.
When you’re an entrepreneur there is always a certain point where you feel like you’ve lost your energy and your spark for your work. That shift from losing sleep because you’re too excited to losing sleep because you’re too stressed out.
The first reason that we drift into this is that we drift into bad habits. You were once the visionary, you had new ideas, and you took risks. Then little by little, you unconsciously built yourself a new box of to-do lists, deadlines, routines, and habitual motions. And ultimately, this took the joy from the ride you were initially on as a new entrepreneur – that entrepreneur who had vision and spark. Now, you try to keep your head above water as you fulfill your entrepreneurial obligations each day. And that’s not how it’s designed to be.
You have to identify your sweet spot, YOUR zone of genius in order to get back on track and in line with who you’re meant to be in your business. Make a list of your mission-critical things that you want to give your love and attention to every day. Some of mine are: leading myself with prayer and journaling and growth resources, creating margin in my life for vision, and leading my team, not just managing them. What actions for you are critical to fulfilling your mission? Become hyper-aware of them, and hyper-vigilant about protecting time and space to prioritize them.
What does it take to return to leadership as a family-first entrepreneur?
If you’re feeling called to take action, good. If you’re feeling pulled into a new way of running your business and life, good. If you’re feeling like you have some challenging choices in front of you to make a change, good. Being a leader isn’t easy, but we didn’t leave our corporate careers or past jobs for “easy,” did we? We wanted to pursue a better way of achieving our dreams and leaving a legacy, one that starts with clarity, focus, intention, and spark, no matter if we’re at work or at home.
If you haven’t yet, make sure you download our FREE 30-minute game plan, Frazzled to Focused, to help you further reduce overwhelm and gain more clarity about the family-first entrepreneur you’re meant to be. Check it out here!