Being an entrepreneur comes with many benefits, but it can also take a toll on your health. The long hours, the constant decision making and the need to always think about the bottom line can be exhausting even for the most energetic person. Sometimes a lifestyle change is needed in order to ensure that your business does not succeed at the expense of your health.
We asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council for suggestions on simple ways to change the entrepreneurial lifestyle for the better. Remember, it’s important to make time for yourself and pay attention to priorities outside of the business.
1. Set boundaries
The biggest positive change I’ve made to my lifestyle came shortly after my son was born. Realizing that I couldn’t be a workaholic and needing to set my priorities in balance, I completely banned work and my computer on the weekends. This was accomplished simply by leaving my laptop in my car in the garage and refusing to allow it in the house. Contrary to my expectation that this compromise would harm my effectiveness, I found myself energized and with dramatically improved perspective at the start of each week. Getting up on Monday was easier, challenges were more resolvable and goals were easier to quantify. Our brains need time to decompress, and having the weekends off is like a mini vacation that allows for greater focus. It’s been six years since I made that change, and I’ll never go back. – Jeff Jahn, DynamiX
2. Learn to delegate tasks
The most important thing that has helped me live a healthier life as a business owner is making time for my family. In order to do that, I had to delegate a lot: administrative tasks, sales management and house chores, to name a few. But in the end, I truly value the time I spend with my family every morning and every night. When I look back in 10 years, I will know I made the right decision by being around to watch my son grow. Even if that meant my business didn’t scale as quickly as it could, I can accept that. Money can be made, but you can’t get time back. – Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged
3. Meditate and practice yoga
About a year ago, I was getting burned out with my business and clients and I felt very helpless. I turned to meditation and yoga. It has helped me tremendously in getting out of my rut and focusing on my business. Meditation allows me to take 10 to 15 minutes out of my day to clear my head. There are always pesky small thoughts; I need to email this person or I need to update this spreadsheet. When I sit down to meditate, I purge all those little thoughts from my head and focus on what I want, visualize how I want to structure my business and my life, and think about how grateful I am for all that I currently have. Additionally, yoga has given me the opportunity to focus on my body, especially with a robust running and workout schedule. – Jean Ginzburg , Jean Ginzburg.com
4. Downgrade your number of hours worked per week
I used to work 100 hours a week, and I thought that was a badge of honor. However, I realized over time that I was not being efficient, doing too many projects at once and not focusing my attention appropriately. Ever since I’ve downgraded my work week to about 60 hours, I’ve found that I’ve not only been more successful due to increased focus and efficiency, but I’ve also been much happier. In fact, I wouldn’t have a problem taking the rest of the day off if I felt the need to (mentally or physically), knowing that I can catch up again later in the evening or the next day. With entrepreneurship comes flexibility. Use it. – Andy Karuza, FenSens
5. Read something good
Many people recommend exercise or meditation as good habits to ensure a healthier life and greater success in the pursuit of your goals. I agree that these are extremely effective, but another habit that provides similar benefits is reading. Taking the time every day to read a few pages of a book can be a calming, centering experience similar to meditation. It can also engage the mind if your reading material is challenging, functioning as a form of mental exercise. Many of the most successful people in all industries recommend reading and attribute their success to its positive effects. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or nonfiction; as long as it captures your attention, you will notice positive results very quickly. – Bryce Welker, Crush The PM Exam
6. Create and utilize a home gym
I found myself not making time for the gym and putting other things first. When we don’t prioritize the gym, we simply don’t go. It’s so easy to make excuses. Luckily, I have a remote team and I noticed that my office was pretty bare other than my desk. So, I just moved it to an area in my home gym and now I have no excuses. I see the gym every day when I go into the office and can take walking breaks on the treadmill. This simple move has greatly helped me to live a healthier life. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
7. Get enough sleep
Burning the candle at both ends benefits no one. The brain and body require sleep to function. You can’t push through for an extended period of time without major negative impacts on your performance. It’s actually in your best interest to stop, rest and then start again tomorrow. Pushing too hard doesn’t result in anything but problems, mistakes and bigger issues. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
8. Cook a meal at home
I spend a lot of time on the road attending and speaking at conferences worldwide. As a result, it’s not always possible for me to eat as healthily as I would like. Until recently, this trend would continue even when I returned home. It’s so tempting to take the easy option of ordering food and eating at your desk. Even if I managed to get out of the office for lunch or dinner, eating in a restaurant offered very little control over what actually went into my food. Now I make a concerted effort to cook at home whenever I can. Not only is it healthier, it also offers a valuable break from thinking about business. Thankfully, services such as Blue Apron have made it easy to cook and eat healthy, delicious food without the hassle of shopping and selecting a recipe, making it much easier to include cooking as a regular part of my routine. – Thomas Smale, FE International
9. Make health a top priority
I used to wear 16- and 18-hour work days as a badge of honor. I’d routinely power through exhaustion and sickness to get the job done. After several years of brushing health problems aside, I started experiencing chronic pain and developing frequent infections. When I finally got around to seeing a doctor, a number of the issues required surgery to repair. I eventually made the decision to make health my top priority. With my well-being as a guiding principle, I adopted a number of positive lifestyle choices. I started sleeping more, exercising, eating healthy and meditating on a daily basis. I felt better both physically and mentally. And as an added benefit, my work quality and productivity improved as well. – Mark Shore, Strike Social
10. Gain clarity within 15 minutes
Taking just fifteen minutes to meditate every morning has changed my life greatly. Before meditation, I would act on the most pressing business issues almost immediately in the morning. Without giving myself time to start my day with a clear head, I was not always focused and found myself working on tasks that did not drive my business forward. What’s worse, I would be lost in my thoughts while at family gatherings or having dinner with my wife. Once I started meditating in the mornings, the change was almost immediate. With a focused mind at the end of the meditation, I found myself prioritizing business game-changers before everything else. Not only that, my ability to focus got a lot stronger with each session. At first, I meditated for five minutes, then ten and gradually worked my way up to fifteen minutes every day. Now, when I’m in the zone for work, I stay there and get things done fast. When I spend time with my family and friends, I make sure I am fully present. With meditation, I have strengthened my ability to focus and shifted my mindset to match what I need at any given time. – David Henzel, TaskDrive.