Preserve your family as you build your business

Despite the importance of work-life balance, most entrepreneurs have a 24-hour work day and often, even dream about their business in their sleep. The relationship with your loved ones is usually the first victim of the entrepreneurial bug. As the newly-fledged business owner obsesses over the product, the promotions, the social media strategy, and the best joint venture, family members are left craving emotional closeness.

With time, people around you may start complaining about unrelated and unjustified slights. Kids especially express lack of attention by acting out. As the family dynamic becomes more complicated, you may be tempted to withdraw even more into your work as a way to escape having to deal with the situation.

Contrary to what many people think, physical proximity alone does not solve the problem. Healthy relationships require mental and emotional presence. That means not just looking and hearing the people around you, but seeing and listening to them, too. As much as your business impacts the family, your relationships have a direct effect on the growth of your company. If left untreated, unhealthy relationships can sap you of the creative energy so crucial during every stage of business development.

Entrepreneurship is a lonely job. You carry almost exclusive responsibility for the success or failure of your venture. The emotional support of people closest to you will contribute tremendously to your peace of mind and confidence in your ability to make it happen.

A work-life balance solution

As always, the solution requires you to be proactive. To stop the downward spiral, you need to take control of the situation instead of letting it control you. If the description sounds familiar, you are long overdue for a relationship break. A relationship break is the time you set aside to be not only around the people you love, but with them. It's the time to tune out of work and to tune into their needs, their stories, their emotions, while also sharing yours.

One hour of communication is worth a thousand hours of reconciliation. Ironically, setting aside several hours a week to nurture everyone's emotional needs (yours included) will allow you to be more productive in the long run. Investing the time in maintaining strong family bonds is a sure way to prevent many of the problems that require countless hours to resolve. At the same time, a calm and healthy environment at home will contribute to your ability to work the necessary hours during the rest of the week.

Relationship break is not housework time

A relationship break is not the time to do the chores that require the involvement of other family members (unless doing them together actually brings you closer). Find another time to haul that new desk home from Ikea, shop for groceries, or get ahead with cleaning. Discussing your family's budget, parenting challenges and your relationship with the in-laws will not help you enjoy each other's company either.

Scheduling

The relationship break doesn't have to be on a weekend. In fact, it doesn't even have to be a whole day. Find the time that works best for you and mark it on your calendar. To survive, the relationship break needs to become a tradition and a habit. It requires consistency and planning. Don't be tempted to reschedule, otherwise, your efforts will taper off after just a few tries.

Set rules

Turn off the business-building podcast playing in your head - If your business can't survive several hours without you, you have signed up for slavery, not entrepreneurship. Tell yourself exactly when you'll get back to work and leave all thoughts of business until that time.

Disconnect from technology - Nothing says "you aren't important to me" more loudly then texting and emailing during the "us" time.  Relationships are nurtured through mindfulness, deep listening, and emotional involvement. That means being focused on the people you are with for a stretch of time. Beeping Blackberries are the ultimate enemies of romantic dates and family outings. Leave them at home.

Negativity's out - Even if your relationship is not perfectly smooth, you can still enjoy each other's company by concentrating on the positive. The relationship break is not the right time to correct your partner's temper or grumble about your children's dismal grades. Set aside criticism, negativity, and complaint for another time.

By Leah Aharoni of All Business.com

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