I think this is a subject I’ll explore in more detail in my upcoming LinkedIn series (more on that later!), but a few posts I’ve seen this week triggered this thought, so I wanted to write about it at least on a surface level.
The saying goes something like “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s a simple enough concept that implies that when you enjoy what you do for a living, it doesn’t feel like a chore and you do it happily. Many of us who decide to leave Corporate America and start something of our own (or work on our “passion” after hours) go into it with the mentality that we want to be our own bosses and be in charge of our destinies, but the illusion of freedom that comes with owning a business quickly devolves into the reality that we are now more than ever tied to work, it’s just OUR work.
Everyone wants to be a celebrity or a YouTuber, but when push comes to shove, many give up. Or as the Marines say “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” No one creates a successful business overnight, and I think we’ve all become obsessed with seeing the final packaged result that gets curated on social media or TV, because not many people show or talk about the actual journey that got them to that point.
At first, it’s exhilarating – you’re the captain now, you get the talking stick, you make all the decisions, and because it’s your passion, it’s all you think about. And then, reality sets in: you ARE the captain now. It’s ALL you think about. EVERY decision is ultimately up to you, no matter how many opinions you ask for, and depending on the scale of your small business, it’s your face/name/reputation on the line every.single.time.
Another post that I read this week that was very much in line with this idea was one from a college friend who is a trained pharmacist and is currently building a brand around his expertise. Inspired by Gary Vee (because who isn’t?), Richie decided that in order to turn his ambition into reality, he would dedicate the four hours after he gets home from his job until he goes to sleep (#10to2), and would invest them into working towards his brand and business. Again, simple concept, but one that requires a solid vision and some serious discipline. He admits to many lifestyle changes and sacrifices, but it’s something he’s happy to do in order to see his vision come to life – and it works for him. I’m really invested in seeing his journey, reading his articles, checking out his podcasts and videos, and I can’t wait to see the results that his dedication will yield!
At the end of the day, I really don’t need to look too far to see how entrepreneurship takes years of around-the-clock dedication before you can really sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. My parents started a business (and went into bankruptcy pretty quickly with it) the year I was born. It took them about seven years of constant work (weekends? holidays? what are those???) for us to go on a family vacation, and once their business really solidified, we were all able to reap the rewards of their tireless and admirable work ethic. But those work-work-work-work-work-work years are the key, and it’s wild because from the outside, people don’t see the struggle and just focus on the summit at the mountain, not the arduous journey to the top.
Entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing, but when it comes to work-life balance you can expect to have a lot more of the work, and a lot less of the life – at least for a few years. And that’s ok, because as my friend Gary likes to say “you have to love the process.”