The other day I was talking to someone about my ever-fluctuating work schedule. It seems that all my clients need work the same week, while they all disappear the next. It means I roller coaster from crazy busy to nothing to do fairly constantly and it is almost completely out of my power to even out the flux. The women I was speaking with – a much older, more wise and more experienced one – responded with this sentence:
“Sounds like life, to me.”
That got me thinking: In an age where millennials are reaching for a life that is lived instead of a job that is worked, is our perception of balance a little askew? Every entrepreneur I talk to wants a job that allows them to live the way they want – one where they are in control of their schedule, their earning potential, their work location. One where they are appreciated for what they bring to the table and not taken for granted. One where they can schedule that vacation whenever they want while also feeling like they make a difference with the work they do. Unlimited family time with unlimited inspiring work with meaning all mixed into the recipe. Is all that even possible?
I have been striving to even out my work schedule so it doesn’t interrupt my life, but maybe that even-ness isn’t as attainable as I imagine and shouldn’t be part of the equation.
As an entrepreneur I enjoy certain luxuries. I work from a home office, or shared space, or coffee shop, or wherever I feel motivated and inspired. I choose my clients and the projects I want to be a part of. I enjoy the creativity of other entrepreneurs as we discuss big ideas and possibilities. I don’t have to clock in and out. I don’t have to say no to great opportunities and I don’t have to take a shower or get dressed or make a commute.
However, there is a trade-off. I have to worry about payroll taxes and profit versus income and how to track expenses so I don’t freak the F out come April 15th. I have to worry about paying for my own health insurance and what happens if I made the wrong decision when I bought that major medical plan with a high deductible banking on being healthy thus far. I have to worry about not taking on enough work to pay myself the salary I negotiated with myself in an attempt to stop the roller coaster of my personal monthly budget. And I have to worry about over promising and needing to work longer days, into the evenings and weekends at the sacrifice of spending time with the people I love, which was the whole reason for going to work for myself anyway, while also wondering if there is enough money in the bank.
My life as an entrepreneur is not in balance. At all. It is a crazy mess of sometimes chaotic needs and self-doubt and a steep learning curve that I will never be off.
But I wouldn’t change it for anything.
I would rather research the hell out of health plans than just take what crappy option someone gave me when I signed on with their company. I would rather learn to work spreadsheets and track numbers than have zero control over how much money I made and how my taxes were calculated. I would rather deal with occasional highs and lows and learn to work through them then force myself into a grey cubicle with a 5 inch policy and procedure manual written in 1985 to guide my day. I would rather sit down to make a schedule that includes things like “Get Creative” and “Learn Something New” than rest on my 9 to 5 laurels.
I think balance is a myth, but I think freedom is a job perk that I gladly accept. Freedom like a kite dancing in the sky while responsibility ties it to the land and makes it possible to soar.
Do you seek balance or freedom with your entrepreneurial journey? Talk to us about your priorities by tweeting @StarterNoise.