Things I Learned In The Woods
Balancing a business and a life
This week I am spending a week with my boys in the mountains of Vermont at family camp. Other than the few minutes it is taking to type this, there is no computer, cell phone, ipod or any other electronic device in sight. They do have a hidden wireless connection that they will let you use if you beg but only in a secret room. We are building a community of 140 people who value the decision to completely uplug themselves and their family for at least one week during the year.
The power of this experience to rejuvenate and reconnect me to my spirit are reminders for me to take time to unplug on a more regular basis.
I really apprectiate all the things that modern electronics have done for me personally and all of us collectively, but I do think there is a certain cost to being perpetually plugged in. Here, every meal is eaten in community, songs are sung and played by people, not through speakers. Stories are told instead of watched on a small screen projected into my living room.
The only news that seems to matter this week is if it will rain and what’s for dinner. Well, my youngest son has had a hard time not hearing the Philadephia Phillies scores daily, but he seems to be managing just fine. He is on the autistic spectrum and in his daily life lots of people spend time heling him with his deficiencies. Here everyone seems to focus on the incredible gifts he has brought to this world and his bright spirit. It’s the only place I’ve ever gone where he is free to go off on his own and I feel totally confident that he will be well cared for.
It seems that I am continually called to teach or write about things I need to learn. The latest in these is how to balance a business and a life. It is so easy when I am working with a health coaching client to help them see where their life is out of balance but using that as a mirror for my life does not always happen. I teach them about primary food and how important things like a spiritual practice, physical acivity and healthy relationships are.
It’s the dream of every entrepreneur, to work for yourself. Be able to make your own schedule, work when you want, make a meaningful difference in the world and have time for the things that are really important in your life.
The reality for most of us is that it takes a lot of hard work and long hours to make these dreams a reality. It was a sobering realization for me as to all the work involved in running a business. Yes, in time most of the more menial tasks can be outsourced, but starting out on a shoestring budget forces you to learn many various skills. Marketing, accounting, web design, as well as many other tasks.
While all of this can be exciting to learn it can also be overwhelming. My experience has been that this can be one of the biggest obstacles to starting a business. Overwhelm leads to paralysis by analysis.
Rather than give you more lists to follow and steps you should take, I will just tell you what I have found to work for me to bring me back into balance when I get into that overwhelmed with too much to do space.
I do write a list of the things that need to get done. Then I put it away turn off the computer and the cell phone and head out into nature. This time is for a week, but even an hour will suffice. I go barefoot if I can and let my feet really touch the earth. This helps to ground me and then I am more likely to be able to put things in perspective and not be so freaked out by all the things on my list.
On a daily basis I try to do things like have a morning ritual that I do before ever turning on the computer, cell phone, or radio. For me, that involves making a green drink, doing some sort of conscious movement such as yoga or qi gong and sitting in meditation. Do I do this every day? Of course not, with kids schedules and first days of school I miss my “ideal” on a regular basis.
That is the great thing about taking time to recenter and ground, it reminds me how important it is to take care of myself. I strive to be completely present for my kids, my family, my clients, friends, and anyone else I connect with. I used to get down on myself when I wasn’t able to do this 100% of the time, now I realize that when I’m checked out, it’s usually because my life has slipped out of balance and I need to take a look at how to reconnect.
By Geoff Young