Life balance is elusive for most entrepreneurs. They put heart and soul into building their business and as a result, they become focused on business success – sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.
But what worth is that success if it’s achieved at the expense of your family, your health, your community, or your personal growth? And if you haven’t attended to those areas of your life, what do you do when you no longer have a business? Perhaps that’s why many business owners plan to die with their boots on. They have little else in their life that gives them pleasure.
A 2010 survey conducted for Scotiabank and reported on CBC newsrevealed that 70% of Canadians plan to continue working after age 65. Whatever happened to ‘Freedom 55’? There may be many reasons, but it seems that many people are afraid to retire.
I suspect that many entrepreneurs don’t have anything better to do with their time. But that’s a poor reason to run a company! And perhaps it is the beginning of the end of their business. I’ve seen it. The spark is gone. There are few, if any, new initiatives.
They are hanging on by their fingernails and hoping that no one can see that, in the words of Thoreau, they are leading “lives of quiet desperation.” But they keep going into the office, nodding politely to some, growling at others, afraid to take a day off for fear the place will fall apart while they’re gone.
In his book Encore, Marc Freedman advocates that baby boomers should think about a second career as another option rather than the never-ending holiday vision perpetuated by the financial institutions. He argues that with the improved life expectancy we enjoy because of recent medical advances, it is in our best interests to continue to work in some capacity much later than age 55 – even into our seventies.
Being an aging entrepreneur can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because if you take the time to figure it out, you can have more control over your life balance – now and in the future. You can have options and choices that are not available to most employees. You can achieve whatever level of balance you want.
It can be a curse though if you don’t slow down long enough to reflect, assess your current situation and make plans for the future. It’s easy to get sucked into a never-ending job until you no longer have the energy to make better choices.