Do You Want to Get Your Life Back?

Leslie Liondas, CPA
Posted by Leslie Liondas, CPA on Nov 10, 2021 12:06:27 PM

How often do you find yourself thinking back to when you had a life outside of work and trying to figure out where the time went? Or do you find yourself thinking that if you could just get a couple of good clients, you would not have to work so much? How often have you found yourself on vacation working?

Do you just wish you could get some REAL time off? No answering the phone or looking at the computer. Just fully present in the now!

As a business owner, I was all the above. I see this in the accounting and tax industry every day. I hear accountants, bookkeepers and tax professionals say all the time, “I have no life outside of my business. I just need to take some time off, but I can’t because.…” We are told over and over that, for a business owner, it must be this way. You must work until you build your business up and that means long hours and sacrifice.

Unfortunately, I don't see the sacrifice ever ending for many of us. We continue to work the long hours and kill ourselves - deadline after deadline. Why do we think we need to do this?

For five years, that was me. I was in that hamster wheel along with many of you. I would go to conference after conference. Enroll in training course after training course. Implement technology after technology. I did these things with the hope that I would find the solution to make the pain go away.

Unfortunately, I just worked more and more without changing the situation. My clients dictated my business and I let them, causing great harm to my health and suffering for my own family. I gained weight, lost confidence, lost myself and lost who I was outside of my business. There were even times I had surgery and I could not take time off to recover. My daughters would talk to me at night, and I had no idea what they said. I would get called on it sometimes, so it did not go unnoticed. What kind of life was this?

As business owners, it is hard to separate our business and personal life. We must figure out how to make them work together. When people say leave your work at work and home at home that is impossible for a business owner. Our minds never stop or at least mine never does. I suffer from “shiny object syndrome.”

Many of us take vacations but are not truly on vacation. We are still working somehow whether it is constantly answering questions by text or phone. Answering emails because we feel that they can't wait. When you do this are you truly on vacation? No, you are not!

I had to get out of the mindset that I would (or could) work my way out of the situation. There was no solution to the pain of long hours and sacrifice until I changed my own mindset.

Going on unplugged vacations from my business was the best thing I could have ever done for my business and myself. I have taken up to 3 consecutive weeks completely unplugged from everything. No client or team calls, no checking in, just vacation. It helped me get clear and find myself again. I was not worried about my business when I returned home. I had complete confidence that my team could handle it and they did. They now have more confidence and are empowered to make decisions on my behalf. While this took time to develop, I had to put the time in to make it happen. That was the best time I have ever put into working on my business.

The thing about being a small business owner is that the business is yours to create. You can have any type of business you want. It does not have to be like everyone else, it is yours.

Many of you do not want to hire and have a team and that is OK too. You must find a way to build your business around that. You may need to work with a company to outsource some of your work. You may need to have a contractor to help you when you are on vacation. We all need the unplugged time off and when you come back you are much more focused on your business! 

Seeing and hearing the same story in our industry every day is what has caused me to be so passionate about writing these articles and telling my own story. I want others to change their future as well.

I have a new mindset and I work ON my business. 

1. Setting boundaries with clients, my team and my family has helped me keep a clear head. 

2. Getting rid of non-ideal clients and non-ideal services was key in getting this far.

3. Develop a method to get things done

4. We've standardized our processes

5. Every day I ask myself “what is the most valuable thing I can do for my business today?” I then look at all of the tasks in my project management system that I need to do and evaluate each one based on which is the most valuable thing. Yes, there are days that I must do things differently but not very often.

I've benefitted tremendously since I've gotten my life back. Since I have completely reduced the entire firm's work hours and my team still gets paid the same, I've heard so many times, "You are crazy!" But my team is more productive and they are willing to do anything I ask of them; they benefit from letting me work on my business while they handle everything else.

Since implementing reduced hours in the entire firm, I work 25-30 hours each week instead of 70-80. This has helped me put my health first and start going to the gym during the day. I make a meal plan and stick to it. Since I now have the time to cook, it is not just something else on my to-do list. I have lost weight and feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I started walking at night and just taking time to myself. Since then, I am more focused on what I need to focus on instead of putting out fire after fire.

I challenge you. Figure out how to get your life back and find yourself again. With a clear focus and plan, it is possible. By working on your mindset, you will no longer be the one holding yourself back. You DO NOT have to be everything to everyone JUST TO YOURSELF!

Topics: Practice Management


 

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