Stop Seeking Work-Life Balance

Seek work-life happiness instead.  I had the honor of presenting this topic for discussion at the XY Planning Network conference in Dallas last week.

When viewed through the lens of a traditional employee, entrepreneurs lead an “envious” lifestyle.  Our earnings potential is unlimited and we likely have more flexibility, outside of the traditional 8-to-5.  BUT it is easy to fall into the trap of entrepreneurship where you literally do nothing outside of work.  Business development and yearning for more income sets many on a perpetual hamster wheel.  As our businesses grow, our role within the organization must change too.

This article titled “Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3” paints a pretty grim picture.  The author argues, through Randi Zuckerberg’s 2011 tweet, that an entrepreneur can only have three of these goals.  For start-ups especially, two elements must fall by the wayside. 

I disagree with the article and think you need a healthy dose of each of the five elements (work, sleep, family, fitness, and friends) to lead a “successful” life as an entrepreneur.  Sleep, family time, and movement help me stay sane in a very hectic professional environment.  Visits with friends may be less frequent but shouldn’t disappear.  What is your opinion?  Do you agree that entrepreneurs can only feel successful in three of these areas? 

Why Balance is Unattainable

Now, let’s turn to another area of contention, summarized below:

Balance = Equilibrium

This perfect equilibrium just isn’t attainable, given competing priorities.

Alain de Botton stated “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”  And I couldn’t agree more. 

Finding Happiness

Happiness should be the goal, not balance.  Within “happiness,” I see two main components: emotional and physical.  Here are some possible emotional fixes:

  • Time blocking
  • Schedule professional and personal activities on the same calendar
  • Create replicable business processes
  • Outsource your weaknesses
  • Clear the physical clutter in your office and home
  • Be emotionally present to your team and family
  • Journaling / gratitude list
  • Daily meditation
  • Mastermind and/or study groups

Proposed physical solutions include:

  • Frequent movement (standing desk, anyone?)
  • Quarterly or annual fitness goal
  • Morning routine
  • Monthly chiropractic adjustments or massage
  • Eating healthy foods, not junk

You get the idea.  There are plenty of ways to keep yourself emotionally and physically sustained so you can avoid stress, fatigue, and burnout. 

Let's Get Personal

What methods have you employed to find work-life happiness?  It’s easy to recognize when we feel off-kilter, like something isn’t quite right.  It’s often harder to focus on the times when professional and personal worlds synchronize.  Take a minute and give yourself permission to recall the times you felt “happy.”  Now focus on the most meaningful recollection.  What was different about that situation than the one you’re facing now? 

What is one tangible step you can take today to create more “happy” situations personally and professionally?


Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS, CFP® is a perceptive problem solver and the proud owner of SV CPA Services and WorthyNest.  She is passionate about client service and enjoys being a trusted advisor to other small business owners.  Deb is a professional contributor to Kiplinger Personal Finance and Investopedia and a member of the: AICPA, NAPFA, and XY Planning Network.  Outside of work, Deb spends time with her husband Bryan and their three young sons.