Entrepreneurs are crazy busy, but pursuing your dream doesn’t have to mean ditching your friends and loved ones.
5 min read
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When you’re starting, scaling, or simply running a business, it seldom feels like there are enough hours in a day. As a result, entrepreneurs quickly learn to adapt by sacrificing parts of their lives… and their social lives are often the first to go.
But, what are the costs of consistently abandoning a Friday night out with friends in favor of your work? It may seem like a smart time investment at the moment, but it may be harmful to your mental well being. A study from DePaul University found that the happiest people are those with strong social ties who engage in social events frequently.
And nope, it doesn’t just cut it if you chime into a group conversation around the coffee bar at your local co-working spaces. These social ties need to be deeper and more substantive in order to evoke the full scope of happiness, as found in a study titled ‘Eavesdropping on Happiness’ from scientists at the University of Arizona.
So, how should one balance a social life with their entrepreneurial ventures?
1. Be strategic about the activities you do with your friends.
It’s important that when you do spend time with your friends, you aren’t totally derailing your schedule or making it hard for you to pick up your work again. That’s right: that means no late-night cocktails, dinners on the other side of town, or staying longer than you agreed to. You can make time within your current schedule to see friends who matter to you instead. “When I need to get my nails done, run to the farmer’s market, get some shopping done, or get in a workout, I’ll call my friends,” shares Charlene Perez Huber, CEO of Coaching the Phoenix. “That way, I’m knocking off items on my to-do list while also getting in that social time, which is more fun!”
Which items on your to-do list can you slow down and do with some company? You’re likely to leave your office at some point to do something — make a friend date out of it.
2. Communicate clearly with your friends.
Oftentimes, your friends are friends you’ve had for a lifetime, and they may not understand the demands of being an entrepreneur. Chances are that if they aren’t entrepreneurs themselves, they certainly don’t understand, and can start to feel hurt or angry when you’re harder to reach. Communication is vitally important in these scenarios.
“Do your best to articulate your position and make time when you can,” writes Adam Toren for Entrepreneur. Take the time to tell a friend how much you value your relationship and also fill them in on the current high-stakes of your business. This way they won’t take your distance personally. And keep the lines of communication open for when you can afford to take a few hours off for dinner or a coffee.
3. Set aside one evening or afternoon a week to unplug.
Most entrepreneurs thrive when they have some overview of a weekly plan. Setting aside one morning, afternoon, or evening a week for social time with friends is a great way to make sure you’re making the time while avoiding the hassle of trying to find a free window in your schedule. “I have a rule: Saturday nights for friends, Sunday nights for family,” shares Lalaine Dawn, Author of Who Gets The Last Laugh and co-founder of Launch Alter Consulting Agency. “That way I know not to schedule any events for those evenings, and my friends know which night I’m free and available.”
This act of setting aside time, also known as “time-boxing,” will help you feel more in control of your schedule while also helping to manage expectations for your friend group.
4. Connect with a local entrepreneurship networking group.
Finally, keep in mind that you don’t always have to get in your social hours with old friends. Perhaps your growing business is inspiring you to expand your horizons and learn through social engagements, in which case joining a local entrepreneurship networking group is a great idea. Depending on which type of group appeals most to you, you’ll find yourself in a room with other people who do understand the demands you face.
“Being surrounded by peers who have lofty goals and a strong work ethic helps to hold you to the same standard,” writes Christiana Minga. The sharing of these goals and growth strategies certainly can be classified as a substantive social connection, encouraging not only a greater sense of well-being but more inspiration and support in your business.
It’s always going to be a balancing act to make time for all facets of your life – but the best entrepreneurs know when to take a break and let loose. You’ll be surprised how much making time for social interaction and engagement can help your performance when you return to working on your business.