The balancing act

by Kimberly Greene19 Dec 2018

As the year winds down and we all become engulfed by the Top Whatever lists of 2018, it’s also a good time to take a breath, look up from your business, and look around at your life.

Yeah, your life. Remember that? What does it look like apart from your business?

Do you even have a life apart from your business?

In “All Work and No Play? A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Correlates and Outcomes of Workaholism,” a study published in the Journal of Management in 2014, researchers found that workaholism is related to many negative outcomes, such as burnout, job stress, work–life conflict, and decreased physical and mental health.

It’s easy to get lost in the business when you’re working to build it. For mortgage coach, trainer, author and former originator Cindy Ertman, she says that her personal work-life balance began to get out of whack when she surpassed $150 million in loan volume. Her solution was to create a structure around her priorities and create some non-negotiables: leaving work at a certain time every day to have dinner with her family every night; attending her kids’ sporting events; and committing to a two-week vacation every summer.

“My goal was to spend my time when I was at work working on income-generating or relational activities, and when I was home focused on family, and I really hired people around me to do everything else. I allowed myself to let go of those activities and it was being intentional about my time in that way that began to scale my business in a really meaningful way.”

Any originator, regardless of production volume, can give themselves permission to set specific non-negotiables as they’re growing their business and to build that framework so that things don’t get even more out of balance.

One of Ertman’s clients sought her services because she was successful professionally but was an admittedly aggressive workaholic who wanted to be a better leader and a kinder person. Ertman said that she worked with the originator for a year, and her business went up 30%. It wasn’t just due to the systems that she put into place, but because “people gravitated towards her, because she worked on her leadership skills, her soft skills, and really began to show up as a better version of herself.”

Having a proper work-life balance isn’t just about working less (being balanced can contribute to increased productivity); it’s about identifying the areas of your life that need more or less attention than they’re currently getting. If you’re closing $400,000 in loan volume and can’t manage $10,000 in personal debt, then that area needs attention. If you can’t remember the last time you did something more physical than climbing a set of stairs, then that area needs attention. A successful business is useless if your body isn’t well enough to function and support you for the long haul. When was the last time you mentally challenged yourself outside of structuring loans? Education, industry-related or not, can keep your mind sharp. What are you doing to contribute to your community?

The common rebuttal is that there’s not enough time for everything, and that’s a valid concern. But Ertman offers another way of thinking about it: there are no do-overs.

“It’s a rude awakening when your son or your daughter goes off to college and you realize, there’s no do-overs. I can’t get that time back. So make that a priority and get people to support you in a way that allows you to spend time on what matters most,” she said. ‘It’s huge to move towards that awareness of, how present am I in my life? How present am I when I’m with my spouse when I get home from work? How present am I when I’m with my children? Because this business can be all-consuming, but to put the business ahead of the most meaningful people in our life is obviously not a good choice. What choices do you need to shift to live a more intentional and satisfied life, is really what it boils down to,” Ertman said.

The first step to solving anything is being aware of and acknowledging the issue. Once you identify the areas of your life that are out of balance, you can start to make choices and set time- and space-specific goals around those areas. The vaguer the goals are, the less likely it is that they’ll be met, and if you’re not likely to take the action necessary to meet that goal, make an intentional choice to determine why.

‘I’m going to go to the gym this week!’ becomes, ‘I’m going to go to the gym on Tuesday at 6:00 a.m.’ becomes ‘I hate the gym. I’m hiring a personal trainer to come to my house on Tuesday morning at 6:00 a.m.’ Making little shifts to adjust your routine enables you to focus on your identified priorities, which will make you happier and more likely to succeed.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

“Why do we want to do more business? Isn’t it about creating a more fulfilling life experience? What does that look like for you? What do you want out of your own life? I always say, start with the end in mind. When you fast forward to the end of your life, what do you want to be remembered for, and what do you want to have created? Let’s work towards that and get you real clear about what you want and then how do we back into growth that is going to support you not only in your business, but in creating a really healthy life for yourself and your family.”