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Wellbeing / Work life balance

Setting priorities: Looking after our ecosystems

It's our duty as soloists to turn our back on today's work-obsessed culture. When setting priorities, we must ensure our work takes its rightful place alongside other priorities. When we suffer due to lack of balance, so of course does our business.

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I have come across two similar ad campaigns which have angered me no end. The first, a TV ad, features a beaming bride who keeps smiling as she takes a work call during her ceremony. The second, on the radio, has a dad reading a bedtime story, before taking a call then cutting it short, explaining ‘Sorry son, it’s daddy’s work.’

It makes me want to run a counter campaign: “Lost – Priorities & Perspective. Last seen before the Industrial Revolution.”

Aren’t adverts supposed to be aspirational? Can anyone tell me what is aspirational about working at your own wedding, or having a client interrupt time with your son?

I think we soloists need to lead by example by unapologetically ensuring work takes its rightful place when setting priorities. It is our duty to show the drones how it’s done by putting at least as much conscious effort into staying healthy and making our relationships a success as we do into our work.

Each of us is responsible for our delicate ecosystem of work, health and relationships. For this ecosystem to survive, each element and its interrelation needs to be nurtured and respected

"Just because you take a Tuesday afternoon to lie down with a book, lark about in the ocean or have a long lunch with friends, it does not mean you don’t take business seriously and aren’t committed to it."

The good news is it should be easy for soloists, free of the strictures of tut-tut-you’re-five-minutes-late corporate culture, to ensure there’s harmony between these elements.

And now the bad: lots of soloists are so frightened of not being taken seriously they busily emulate Jobland. In their zeal to create a career others will take notice of and have respect for, they end up creating a black-hole business which consumes all of their energy.

Want more articles like this? Check out the work life balance section.

Naturally this way of setting priorities has got “counterproductive” written all over it as when energy does not get replenished by time “out”, our business ends up suffering anyway.

My business partner and all round good guy Robert Gerrish explains the role of the review process he sometimes undertakes with coaching clients, 99% of whom are solo business owners. “I’ll find out how they think they have performed in their business. Then I will ask ‘And how about as a partner/parent/friend?’ If they stall on the answers here, it’s a strong indicator something is out of whack and trouble is not far behind.”

Just because you take a Tuesday afternoon to lie down with a book, lark about in the ocean or have a long lunch with friends, it does not mean you don’t take business seriously and aren’t committed to it.

Time out is not going to kill you. But over-committing to your work just might.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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