As small business owners, it can be difficult to prioritize ourselves over our business, especially when you are just starting out. When I started my second business, I was pouring 100% of my energy into my business and completely ignored any personal priorities. And boy, let me tell you, this did not serve me or my relationship or my health one bit! If we fail to focus on personal priorities, we are left feeling drained, burnt out, and unhappy. Today, I want to talk about how to set personal priorities as a small business owner. And I promise, in the end, this will help you avoid the burnout and live your life to the fullest!
It all starts will defining your ideal lifestyle. I know many of you, like myself, turned in the keys to your 9 to 5 job to pursue your dream of owning a small business. BUT, have you actually traded places for a better life? Or, do you feel more stressed and overwhelmed than ever? Before you can begin setting your personal priorities, you need to think long and hard about what you want for yourself, not just your small business’ bottom line. Without boundaries and personal priorities, you are not serving yourself fully as a business owner. So, let’s jump in. Time to ask yourself some hard questions.
What are the most important areas of your life?
Think about the most important areas of your life (e.g., career, relationships, personal development, finances, health, fun, service etc). Rate each area in terms of how important it is to you. Use a scale from 1-10 with 1 being “not important” and 10 being “vitally important.
Now, rate how well you are living each of these areas. How satisfied are you with the amount of time you spend in each important area of your life? Again, rate this on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “not living it at all” and 10 being “living it to the fullest”.
Last part, look back at the areas of your life that you rated as very important (8, 9 or 10). Do you see any disconnections between how important an area is and your satisfaction rating? Chances are that you are feeling a lack of balance because there is a gap between what is important to you and what you are actually doing.
How are you currently spending your time?
Now that you have decided the most important areas of your life and how satisfied you are with how you are living them, it’s time to dig a little deeper. One of the first steps to changing your relationship with time is to assess how you are spending it. For this question, write down all the things you do on a daily and weekly basis. How much time do you spend in each of the important areas of your life?
The truth is, the way you spend your time is a direct statement of your priorities. Are you satisfied with how you are currently spending your time? Or, do you feel a lack of balance between the most important areas of your life and the amount of time you are spending on them?
Let’s Set Some Priorities!
If you are still with me here, then you are feeling ready to set some personal priorities and boundaries. There is no simple formula and it must be customized for you and your business. But, since I have been down this road before, I want to give a few tools to help you set your own personal priorities to begin living your best life possible.
Set new priorities to start doing more of the important things in your life
The first step to reordering your priorities is to figure out what important activities are missing from your life. As you review each question, write down the activities, people, events, etc. that come to mind. This is the beginning of your new list of priorities.
- What is the most important thing in my life right now?
- Where would I want to spend more time?
- Where would I want to spend less time?
- What areas need my attention now (e.g., school, talent, health, relationship)?
Define your non-negotiables
The next step in deciding what your new list of personal priorities is to define your non-negotiables. For me, one of my primary non-negotiables is making time for my family and friends. Specifically, I make it a priority each week to either have a date night, have a lunch date with a friend, or even just a facetime date with a friend since nearly all my friends live in a different state! Your non-negotiables can be anything– attending your daughter’s annual concert or attending happy hour every Thursday with your girlfriends. Whatever they are, define them, write them down, and remind yourself each week why you are setting these personal boundaries.
One big part of this step is defining your “No List”. This means deciding how, when and why to say no to a new project or an additional client. This can be very difficult for small business owners because we are so focused on turning a profit and being successful. BUT, this is SOO important for ensuring that you have enough time for all the areas of your life that are important to you. So, can you say no to one more wedding this year? Can you turn down an invitation to attend a business retreat or event? The true key here is to listen to your heart and draw the line when it’s necessary.
Pro Tip: Tell others in your life (even non-team members) what your non-negotiables are so that you can be held accountable. Tell your significant other, spouse, best friends, etc. so they know to put their foot down and gently let you know when you’re slipping up. It’ll be so worth it.
In John Acuff’s book, Quitter he says, “before you can be successful, you have to DEFINE what success means to you.” He says, “you have to define your enough.” So, as you consider your new list of priorities, also consider the statement above. Manifest the feelings you want to feel every day. Whether it be creativity, connection, joy, adventure, decide what your enough is!
And with all of this, never underestimate the power of positive affirmation. Find the positive affirmations that fire up your creative soul. Read them to yourself every day and remember that no matter how much money you make or how many clients you book each year, you are ENOUGH!