You’ve missed your daughter’s dance recital and your son’s soccer game this week. You can’t remember when you last sat down and ate a complete meal without texting or checking your phone. Speaking of phones, you sleep with yours and are more intimate with it than you are your spouse. You are gaining weight because you can’t find time to exercise. You are bitchy and irritable because you are only sleeping 4-5 hours/night. Your family complains that they don’t have your attention. You don’t enjoy social events, because your mind is always on your business and socializing seems a waste of time. Your sleep is restless and full of dreams where you are being chased. Oh, and by the way, you are drinking more than you used to. Any of this sound familiar? If so, this is your “wakeup call”!

Remember why you wanted to start your business? You envisioned freedom, controlling your own time, making the decisions instead of being told what to do, and now your business is controlling you. I bet you are even working more hours than you did as an employee, and having more headaches. How did this all happen?

When we start a business we are excited about all the possibilities and the ownership. As our business grows it becomes an extension of us, and our identity. And because there are no external limits—there are always 79 more things that could be done— we don’t know when to stop. We also feel protective about our businesses, and have difficulty letting others take on responsibility. “No one else will do it exactly the way I would, so I need to keep doing everything.” And the monster grows until it swallows us.

What to do? BREATHE. Take a step back. Get away and get some perspective. Think about what you are doing and why. What was your vision when you started? What is it now? Who is it serving? What will happen if you continue the current pattern—to your health and to your family? Carefully look at what you are doing and what it is costing you and those you care about.

On a practical level, consider a couple of these strategies:

  • Outsource some work, hire contractors, or an assistant
  • Train employees in new areas and support their growth
  • Look at your target market- is it the right niche for you?
  • Do you need to fire some clients who aren’t worth the headaches?
  • Set a boundary on your work hours. Turn off your phone and computer in the evenings.
  • Learn to meditate
  • Find a method of exercise that is fun for you and involves your family and friends.
  •  Get to bed at a reasonable time.
  •  Upgrade your eating habits and look at your alcohol use
  • Get a mentor or coach to hold you accountable for the new habits you want to build into your new life.

There is life after “near- drowning” and it can be wonderful and amazing!