While this blog post may not be a huge news flash to you, I’m going to bet, it may not be something you’ve put as much thought into as maybe you should have. Trust me when I tell you that if you don’t deliberately do this ahead of time, you can easily find yourself on a very slippery slope to a place you do not want to go.
What am I talking about? Sacrifice.
This practice is employed by anyone who excels at their craft. People who are incredibly productive don’t have more time than the rest of us, they simply make To Do lists and the all so important NOT To Do lists. Look at high performing athletes or performers, they make decisions every day about what they are going to do and what they will not do.
If you’re serious about starting or growing a business you need to decide early on what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not willing to sacrifice. If you don’t your clients or you family will decide for you.
For me, sacrifice has meant different things at different time. When I started, I only worked during naptimes. I sacrificed growing my business larger or faster than I did, so I could be with my children more. As they got older, I limited myself to working two or three days a week. Again, I sacrificed growth, but I also wasn’t around every minute of every day with my kids. To compensate for this, I often sacrificed watching TV at night after they were sleeping to catch up on emails or finalize a client project. Sometimes I sacrificed sleep.
For me, a very goal driven person (who could easily slip into being a workaholic), this was really hard! One of my goals is to grow my consulting firm into a million dollar firm and it has been tough to watch friends launch and grow their businesses larger and faster than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly happy for their success, but sometimes I feel like a failure or like less of an entrepreneur because I’m not there yet. The reason my husband and I decided ahead of time how much (or little) I would work was because we knew, given the opportunity, I would work nearly all the time – and that wasn’t what we wanted for our family.
However, all of my sacrifices have not always been for my children’s benefit. Especially during this past year. As you probably know from my previous posts, I’ve been traveling a lot more – usually at least 25 percent of the month. At this point in my business, I am trying to manage some controlled growth. My husband and I have some financial goals we are really working hard to achieve. The most important is to pay off our mortgage and be completely debt-free within the next 12 months. Plus, I still want to become a million dollar firm. As a result, I’ve missed a few things at home. This week in fact, I’ve missed my son’s first trip to Cub Scout Day camp and dress rehearsal for this weekend’s dance recital. (To be honest, part of me feels guilty because I think I should feel guilty for missing these two events but I don’t.)
Over the last seven years of doing this, here is what I’ve learned about sacrifice: decide upfront what you are willing to sacrifice and what you are not willing to sacrifice. Because when the opportunity presents itself to take on a new client’s project, take the kids to the park, or simply flop on the couch & veg out, if you don’t already have your boundaries established, you may find yourself making a decision you regret later on.
What have you decided is something you are willing to sacrifice or what are you not willing to sacrifice?