There are so many books, blogs, videos and workshops that talk about how to start a business, be a successful entrepreneur and create good work/life balance. There are just as many people talking about how to have the greatest relationships. But what about people who want both of those things? Where is the support for them?
Being an entrepreneur is an intense lifestyle. You work 365 days a year,your mind never switches off. There are long hours, never ending phone calls, meetings, networking, marketing, blogging and more – whatever your business requires. There are highs and lows, ups and downs – regularly. Like a roller coaster you can’t get off. While it’s usually even harder for new businesses to switch off, even when you have build a business where you can delegate the work to your team, ultimately, you are still the decision maker and the boss.
Entrepreneurs have many characteristics in common: passionate, persistent, risk taker, ambitious, disciplined, independent, creative, hard working, focused and decisive. Do you recognise these in you or your partner? Whilst these characteristics might be desirable in a partner, when it comes to intimate relationships they might not be quite as desirable as first thought. Re-read these characteristics carefully. Can you see how they could also equate to controlling, imbalanced and a loner?
While you are working and building your business in these modes 16-18 hours a day, 365 days a year, you are switching off to other parts of your life. To a part of your life where a more understanding, loving and caring mode is needed. Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of work. But guess what? So do relationships. Both require full time commitment and patience if you want to achieve success and long term results.
So what does it take to balance your entrepreneurial life and love life, and have success in both at the same time?
1. Priorities! Make Your Partner Number One
When you are an entrepreneur, there will always be another e-mail to write, another call to make or another meeting to arrange. With all this happening, making time for your significant other might feel like a sacrifice, but let me put things in perspective for you.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in end-of-life care. She recorded their dying thoughts in a blog called Inspiration and Chai. It gathered so much attention that she compiled her observations into a top selling book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. One of the most common thoughts was ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’
She says “this came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
It is so important to make time to spend with your partner; away from business and giving your undivided attention. Being present with your partner will make them feel seen and heard, which is incredibly important way to build trust.
So here’s a start: for one day, or even just a few hours every week, make time for your partner. Just you two, doing whatever your partner wants to. Date nights are another way of spending quality time together – away from business talk and the distractions of life.
Another suggestion is to do spontaneous things for your partner. This will make them feel extra special just knowing you were thinking of them. Most of the time it is small and unexpected thoughtful gestures which build trust and connection, rather than anything big and planned. So give priority to the small ones. Once your partner knows you care about them, you will have more freedom to be the entrepreneur that you are.
2. Communication! Have Honest And Open Conversations
Trust is the key in relationships, and we build it through communication. As an entrepreneur working 16 hours a day, attending back to back meetings, business travel, networking and having only limited time to spend with your partner, trust will be the main factor keeping your relationship solid. It will help you get through the most challenging of times.
It is vital you have frequent communication during the day, and they don’t have to be long messages or phone calls. A message as simple as ‘I miss you’ or ‘I can’t wait to see you’ can make a big difference and help keep the excitement in your relationship.
What makes a relationships particularly strong is when you both make the decision to have honest and open conversations – even when it’s uncomfortable to do so. These type of conversations require vulnerability and trust, which creates an invisible bond and will bring you closer than ever. You must create a safe space for your partner to open up, and ensure you are listening without judgement or criticism. Listening itself is a skill: especially when you can hear the emotions behind the words. Be present, ask questions to understand exactly what are they trying to communicate and let your partner vent if that’s what they want.
3. Show And Express Your Appreciation
I can’t stress enough the importance of showing and expressing appreciation in relationships.
When a person is praised and shown appreciation, they will do more than expected. Praising your partner with words of affirmation and reminding them of the things you love about them, especially when they’re having a bad day, is a great way to show them appreciation. Remind your partner that you are proud of them, you love them and that you don’t take them for granted.
After the honeymoon period ends, sadly, we often focus on each other’s faults and mistakes. According to John Gottman, a renowned relationships researcher and therapist, couples need a positive to negative interaction ratio of 5:1. So for every negative interaction or thought you have about your partner, you need five positive ones to be balanced. Thanking your partner for the little yet important things is an easy way to increase that number.
Being in a relationship with an entrepreneur, this is crucial. This is because to be in a relationships with someone who works long hours without any days off, you have to be very patient and understanding. There will be times when date night is rescheduled last minute due to a business meeting, or a weekend away cancelled for an unscheduled client visit. When your partner knows they are loved and appreciated, they will be more understanding and supportive at these times. This will give you the freedom and support you need to focus truly on your business.
So when was the last time you stopped to feel, and express how much you appreciate your partner ? When was the last time you used appreciation through acts of service, gifts or unexpected hugs or kisses to express how amazing they are and how lucky you feel having them in your life?
The importance of sex in a healthy relationship cannot be understated.
Sex is where you find a closeness with your partner that cannot be achieved with romance or hugs and kisses. The best way to be as close as you possibly can be to the one you love is through sex. Keep it exciting! Check into a hotel spontaneously and make time for intimacy and physical connection.
Writer and coach Daniel Dowling explains the link between emotional connection and sex: ‘The deeper you are able to connect with your partner emotionally, the more dynamic your sexual experience will be. The greater your emotional connection is with your partner, the more in tune you will be with their physical and sexual needs as well. Emotional connection requires the most sensitivity of any of our needs, so it is the most important connection to practice.’
Being an entrepreneur is very challenging and needs a lot of sacrifices. The attention, dedication and focus required to build a business could make it hard to have a relationships at at the same time but it is absolutely worth it. When you can’t sleep at night, worrying about the next project, cash flow or next client meeting, having someone next to you who you can trust and rely on, someone who supports you and loves you no matter what,is worth for every effort.