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Finding Balance: Family, Work, Personal Interests, New Ideas for 2011

By Paul Hense, CPA. From the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

I love to spend time with my wife, kids, grandkids, brothers, my farm in Cheboygan, my Boston Whaler, the apple orchard and berry patch, our vineyard, vegetable garden, University of Detroit basketball, making wine, fishing, reading history, traveling, eclectic music , writing articles, my SBAM activities, politics, and hiking, etc. I also have to work, exercise, and pay bills. All of those things are important to me. Obviously they are not all going to be satisfied. They therefore must be prioritized. And at the start of the New Year, trying to prioritize all of these things together with the natural sense that you have to start the year off with a bang can be a challenge!

I think it was Bruce Springsteen who wrote a line in a song that went, “cause tramps like us baby we were born to run.” Bruce may be expressing a universal truth. Some of us were born to race and some to plow-and you can’t interchange them. Maybe entrepreneurs were born to attempt to live three lives at once. Being married to, the child of, sibling to, employee of or any other relationship with self employed people is probably difficult. But it’s never boring.

So what is the solution to balancing business, family and yourself in our hectic world – and satisfying the goal to start the year off with a refreshed and reenergized team, new ideas and a finely-tuned strategic plan? Be creative, use your gifts and personal strengths to positively affect the areas important to you, delegate and realize that you cannot do it all alone!

I realize that’s easier said than done. Here are a few things I’ve done to help achieve balance in my life:

1. Your business provides your family with its sustenance. In the current economic situation, having a source of income is a blessing, and in order to maintain the business, you must attend to it. Make sure your family understands that. Have a family meeting to discuss your need to be attentive to the business. Don’t assume they understand. You are important in their lives and they would like more of your time. Not having as much of your time as they would like might be easier for them if they understood everything you have on your plate and adjust expectations to avoid disappointment.

2. Include family time in your priorities. I have been in business for 38 years. At the end of the day, week, year – your family will be by your side long after a demanding customer is forgotten. My kids eventually understood my dilemma when they faced adult responsibilities. I think it’s important to let your family know you love them and that providing for them is the driving force in your business.

3. As you start the New Year, ask the people you consider family and friends what they would like from you. You make business commitments everyday and you honor them. Honor your commitment to friends and family. Take it as seriously as you take your delivery dates and meeting commitments. Your rewards may be greater.

4. Then there is you. What feeds your soul? Take a day off and think about that. In order for me to be happy, I have to grow things. Some people need to hunt. What blows your hair back? Do it. You work hard. You deserve it. If you love work, you are lucky. But that is still only one aspect of your life.

Life is difficult. Being a responsible adult is complicated. Delegate what you can. Take care of your physical and emotional health. Give as much of yourself as you can to the people who love you. After you have done all that, take a deep breath and go back to work.

Paul Hense is a Grand Rapids-based CPA and long-time SBAM member and supporter.
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