Lesson: How to keep your business and marriage healthy
Some people call their businesses their ‘baby’ – that’s a fine analogy since it’s something that takes a ton of time and care when you first get it going. But as a business ages, and you get more experienced as a business owner, I think a better analogy is marriage.
You and your biz are like life partners.
And like any partnership, there are times when your business makes you gush with pride and thank your lucky stars that you get to be here. And then come the times when you grit your teeth with every incoming email and remind yourself that saying what you WANT to say is not productive or healthy.
Also like marriage, you learn a lot about who you are and all the awesome and not-awesome defaults you have. And after a while you can see just cyclical these phases are, and you learn how to cope with those bad times – and hopefully in a way that makes them less painful next time.
Here’s my story:
I can’t say that I’m an expert in business or marriage, but I can say that I’m pretty damn happy with both (at this point anyway). I’m well beyond the honeymoon phases, and I’ve dealt with complete disasters and come out the other side.
So how do I deal with the down times? As I mentioned above, I have learned to recognize my default emotions and behaviors. That’s the most important thing, I think, because it allows me to course correct.
I am a Capricorn, loyal and determined to a fault. I will stick with something that sucks for a long time, trying-trying-trying to get it right. But there is a breaking point (there always is) and once I pass it, there’s no going back.
In a previous business that I owned with my husband (how perfect is that for my analogy?) this is exactly what happened. It was like a light switch flipped – I passed my point and it was over.
For someone like me, it’s very important to not pass that point. I can come close, but I have to recognize it soon enough to take a step back and adjust. As I have grown personally and professionally, it’s easier to see the warning signs. It’s also easier to say NO to things when I know I need a break.
The moral of the story:
With business and relationships, there is no certain formula for health. But I think there are some pretty good practices (sort of obvious ones that aren’t always easy to do) that will at least create a foundation of health.
1. Awareness – consistently monitoring your own thoughts and actions, as well as taking the ‘temperature’ of those around you. You should be checking in on your business and your spouse regularly 🙂
2. Distance – being able to separate your feelings from the current situation. Crabby husband does not have to equal crabby self. Like I said, not always easy to do. In business, the less ‘emotional’ you are when you make decisions, the better.
3. Growth – your partner will evolve over time, and so will your business (and so will you). Let it go where it needs to go, even if that’s not the super-specific direction you wanted it go. Chillax, and see where it takes you. Organic growth is almost always better.
4. Self Respect – you know who you are at your core, and you need to respect and defend your ideas and opinions. No you will not always be right, but if you’re listening to your intuition you’ll probably be pretty damn close most of the time. So don’t let anyone tell you something is dumb, or impossible. I mean seriously, don’t even let them say it.