The Secret Life of Entrepreneurs- Part 5

the secret life of entrepreneurs

Part V- When All is Said and Done

“Oh teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to Wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

If you have heard it said once, you have heard it one thousand times. At the end of life, no one ever wishes they had spent more time at the office. On that day, everyone wants to cram more life in life.

A life filled with meaning does not happen by default. If we want to have more life in life, we must define living. Then we must live our definition, day by day, moment by moment. We cannot cram for it, or reclaim it later. Time is now. Time is the stuff of life. Time is all we have.

Sure every entrepreneur sacrifices periods of time to achieve a goal. But if your business is consuming all your moments like a ravenous wolf, do not be fooled. Success is living a whole life, or it is nothing at all. Do not allow your business to suck the marrow from your bones.

Your business is on a trajectory. Project it out another five years. If things stay the just as they are today, where will you be? We work hard to create a vision that clarifies the final goals of our enterprise.

Have you ever created a vision statement for your life?

What does success look like to you? Forget about what your Mom thinks it should be. Forget about the standard definitions of business gurus blabbing about sales projections. What does it mean to you? Wealth is not money. Health is not limited to the human frame. Happiness is not having everything you want. It goes much deeper than all that. Having everything means nothing if you have no time to enjoy it.

All entrepreneurs, especially successful ones, have a tendency to get sucked into the same black hole of work, work, and more work. It is hard to climb back out. Your life is more than work.

Here are some ways to reverse the vortex and put more life back in your life: 

Don’t become numb to the stress levels. Stress and small business go together. Not all stress is bad, and some is indeed good. If you cannot make payroll, the stress is valid. Stress can also mean you are stretching and growing and becoming. But when the Geiger-counter of life is constantly going off, indicating toxic levels of stress every day of the week? That means your schedule is not aligned with your values. Time to stop and re-calibrate. When your schedule reflects your values, your Geiger-counter shuts up.

Don’t get in the habit of working so hard that you forget to ask if you should be doing the work at all. Entrepreneurs are ready and willing to work hard. Robert Terson’s blog recently featured The Story of an Ant. The author watches an ant struggle to get a large feather across the paving, maneuvering over the cracks and obstacles only to find out that his prize did not fit down the hole of the anthill. He had spent much time and effort, only to abandon the prize. We can be like that ant–forgetting to make sure our efforts are worth doing in the first place. 

Don’t become a prisoner of habit. Some entrepreneurs get so entrenched swabbing the deck that they miss the port. It is so easy for an entrepreneur just to work, and work, and miss opportunities to grow and expand their life. Sure, you have a lot invested. Sure, you might make a mistake. You also might miss your true calling. Try something new. You will never keep your creative streak by missing out on life, and ideas will not wait around for you. Shake up your schedule, get off your boat, and go looking for them.

Don’t get so focused on problem-solving that you miss the solution.  Never forget that problems can overshadow the goal. Say for example your car breaks down. If you are focused on the problem, you focus on getting it fixed. If you focus instead on the goal–of getting to that important meeting–you might call a cab or a friend instead, and keep your appointment. Keep your eyes on the goal and you will always find another way. Focus on the problems, and you will miss the solution standing right in front of you.

Don’t take your life for granted. Create a vision statement for life. Work backward from the end of your life, just as you do when setting a business goal. Imagine you could trade places for a moment with a person who has just learned that they have six months left to live. Not a pleasant thought, I know. And yet, I almost envy that person, if only for a brief moment. Why? Because I have always struggled with getting my ducks in a row. My ducks are always running around in circles. It is hard to discern which duck should come first when they all seem equally important. People who have just learned they have a terminal illness have immediate clarity about their own ducks. A life sentence is the fastest way to know what is truly important in life. Immediately the cream of life rises to the top, and all else sinks to the bottom. People who know their time is limited do not waste time. Now, imagine if we could gain that kind of insight without having a terminal illness. What are the important things in your life? If they are not part of your life now, they may never be. Because guess what? We all have a limited amount of time on earth.

When all is said and done, what do you want people to be able to say about your life? If we want to live a life that matters, we have to define what matters.

Don’t get to the end of your life and find out that you allowed your business to keep you from fully living it.


This is the fifth and final part of The Secret Lives of Entrepreneurs Series. Did you like it? You can read the rest here:

Part I- And Then You Take Yourself to Work

Part II- The Care and Feeding of the Entrepreneur

Part III- Working Well With Others

Part IV- Taking the Bull by the Horns

Why do we at etc!graphics inc, a graphic design company, care about the way you manage your business?  Because your graphics will always reflect your internal management. The clearer your vision, the more lucid your marketing, and the better your visual graphics. Join us all this month as we share ways to help your small business sustain and grow in a crowded marketplace. Etc!Graphics is devoted to helping you, the small business owner, think like a marketer.