Ah, the elusive work/life balance—if there’s anything more controversial, hard to achieve, and hard to explain we have yet to find it. People have opinions (and opinions…and opinions) about what the right work/life balance is, how to achieve it, and whether or not it’s even possible. As wedding professionals who work up to 80 hours a week during busy season, we certainly don’t consider ourselves experts on the whole work/life balance thing—but what we do know is that professional success often comes at a cost.
That last thing we said—success coming at a cost—probably made you cringe a bit; it’s not a sentence most people are comfortable with, but we happen to think it doesn’t have to be a scary notion or something to avoid at all. It simply is what it is—there are a handful of things you will likely either have to adjust or give up all together in order to achieve the professional success you’re after, and that’s just fine! It all comes down to knowing what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not to create the balance that’s right for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to finding balance between our personal lives and professional success—the proper formula is the one you come up with as the ultimate alchemist of your own life. To help you as you work to find the right mixture, then, we wanted to break down some of the top areas of our lives we’ve had to adjust in order to make room for professional demands.
Especially in the early stages of your business, you have to really dedicate yourself to your professional goals, which oftentimes means giving up some (though not all) freedom. You may not be free to go out with friends for drinks every Friday night anymore as you might find yourself working late on that new website of yours. Or, you may have to skip Saturday morning sleep-ins and instead rise early to meet the contractor at your new studio. But, with freedom lost there’s also freedom gained. As a freelance writer, I no longer have the freedom offered to me by a simply 8-5 schedule—there are nights where I work until 10 or 11, and there are mornings where I start in on the day’s work at 5 a.m. But, there is also a new kind of freedom that comes along with that—and that’s the invaluable freedom you gain by working for yourself, setting your own schedule, and choosing your own clients. It’s all about deciding which kind of freedom is right for you and which is most likely to bring you happiness and balance.
Disposable (And Steady) Income
Starting your own business or working for yourself often means you’ll have to get used to being a bit strapped for cash—especially in the early stages of your business if you’re not getting a loan. Dinners out may not be as plausible as they once were, and you may have to cut back on exciting online shopping in the name of buying really boring file folders and office chairs. Along with disposable income, success—especially in its early stages—often means giving up steady income as well. When we work for ourselves, we’re no longer signed into a contract that guarantees us X number of dollars every two weeks on payday. But, on the flip side of that, we also open up the door to eventually make far more money than we would have working for someone else.
This one’s a biggie. When you’re a business owner, you are your business—and it can be hard to truly separate your personal and professional lives and identities. For example, as a freelancer and the owner of a sole proprietorship, I put my personal cell phone in my email signature and on my business cards as I don’t have an office landline. Unfortunately, this means clients often text me about projects (whereas that would never happen if I were working in-house) early in the morning or late at night as opposed to emailing me about them. I’ve also found that clients follow my personal social media channels, which means I have to be a bit more careful about what I’m posting. In a sense, to many of my clients, I am one in the same with my business—which means the lines between my personal and professional time and identities can often get blurred.
Overall, success, like anything else in life, comes at a cost. That being said, life is all about bargaining and balancing—we have to decide what we’re willing to pay for what. The best part about being a business owner, then, is that we actually have the freedom to do so. We’re given freedom we wouldn’t otherwise have as an employee in a large company to decide how many hours we’re willing to put in and when we’re willing to put them in, or what clients we want to work with versus which we want to turn away, or what colors we want our website to be, or how many Saturdays we’re willing to spend in the office, or what we want our logo to look like. As business owners and wedding professionals, there are a ton of things we have to give up in order to make our business a successful one—but there are also a ton of opportunities to make our own decisions rather than having them made for us, and, if you ask us, that makes the early mornings, late nights, and unsolicited texts from clients absolutely worth it.