Guest Post by Marissa Lawton
The word balance tends to get a lot of flak in our industry. There are some who argue that work/life balance is dead and that the key now is to blend our biz and family lives together as there is no real line of separation.
I believe in the “blend” idea. However, I also strongly feel that balance is an emotional state we should all strive for as creative entrepreneurs and even more so as mom business owners.
Balance is not a destination we arrive at once. It is a continuous tip of the scales. A little more here one month and a little more there another.
But, if we try our hardest to always operate from a place that stems from our core values, it won’t matter how “busy” we are because we will be busy with the things we love. The key is to create a values-based work schedule that leaves us busy but balanced.
How to determine your core values as a mom and business owner //
Before we can build a values-based schedule that accounts for building our businesses and devoting time to the things that matter in life, we have to first have a solid idea of what our core values are.
Core values are areas of importance that touch our souls and make up the fundamental identity of who we are. They are the foundation of how we interact with others in the world, how we promote our businesses, and how we grow our families.
Because of the unique nature of our core values, they are not something we want to look to others to define. We do not become attuned to our core values by watching reality TV or listening to the messages broadcasted by society. Instead, defining and refining our core values is a very internal, authentic process.
There is no surer way to feel icky and incongruent than by trying to live our lives according to other peoples’ value systems.
If you’re wondering exactly how to go about figuring out your unique value system, follow this simple process.
STEP ONE / start by asking yourself three questions:
What events, situations, or items am I naturally drawn to?
- Have you always found yourself flocking to large, boisterous family gatherings? Or do you feel more comfortable with small, intimate dinners?
- When making new friends do you prefer to find the fun, party crowd? Or do you fit in better with the more serious, worldly types?
- Do you seek out busy networking events to market your biz? Or would you rather collaborate in steadier partnerships?
Figuring out what draws your attention and where you feel most comfortable will tell you a lot about what you value in your family life and your business.
- What would I do on an ideal day?
- If money were absolutely no object and you got to choose exactly where to spend your time, what would you do with your freedom?Would you spend the entire day with your spouse from sun up to sundown, play with your littles, or work completely uninterrupted for as long as you’d like?
With zero expectations of our time and money, we are free to let our minds wander and imagine some wonderful possibilities. These possibilities give great clues into the things you place the most value on.
What are the few times in my life where I have been completely overcome by joy? Maybe this was your wedding day, the birth of your babies, the day you graduated from college, or the day you left your 9-5 to pursue your own business full-time.
Spend some energy reflecting on these moments. Really try to relive them and focus on the emotions they bring up. This will give you a great indication of your core values.
STEP TWO / identify the common themes
Once you’ve spent some time reflecting on these questions, go back through your answers and identify some common themes.
Were you always with your family on your joyous occasions? What role did alone time play in your ideal day? Are you drawn to more chill social situations?
Start by writing the common themes in complete sentences such as “I am happiest when my entire family is together.” Or “giving my time to others in need lights me up.”
From these complete sentences you can start to highlight key words like “family” and “charity” that come up over and over again. This is the beginning list of your core values.
STEP THREE / test the value
So far, you’ve established your core values list according to your most positive experiences. To really ensure that the value is at the core of your identity and something you want to hold a primary position in your life, you need to test the value under a negative circumstance and see if it holds up.
For instance, if family is one of your core values, think of your experience at something like a funeral. Think back to before you had clients and you were essentially working for free or were in debt because of your business. How does reflecting on these negative experiences makes you feel?
If the values hold up under this test keep them on the list. If not, toss them. It’s better to be more specific and really hone your values than to have a vague idea of what’s important to you.
Prioritizing your core values and putting the big stuff first //
As mom entrepreneurs, we all have a list of priorities that likely includes our family and our business, but there is so much more going on in our day that begs for our minutes. For many, this includes things like:
While this stuff is important to our daily existence and takes up a significant amount of our time, these tasks do not always align directly with our core values. Instead, they feel a lot more like obligations.
Getting caught up in our to-do list is what makes us feel trapped, overwhelmed, and ultimately unbalanced.
So, the key instead is to shift away from the mindset of knocking out everything we have to do first hoping to have time and energy left over for the things we want to do. Rather, the more fulfilling way to think about our time is to emphasize our values first and our obligations second.
Transforming your routine into a daily work schedule //
Now that we’ve done the work to highlight our core values, we can use our list to build out a routine that capitalizes on our mompreneur value system. This foundation becomes the bedrock of our work schedule and ensures that we focus on our ideals and not on our demands.
Here is a really easy system to use when building out your schedule:
Identify three non-negotiable priorities for your day.
These are the things that you will promise yourself to accomplish regardless of how the rest of your day pans out. It takes diligence and commitment, but this is where the mindset shift and your dedication come into play.
Choose these three non-negotiables from your list of core values. Perhaps you choose one thing that relates to your business, another which relates to your family/parenting, and a third that relates to your marriage/relationship.
Create or utilize naturally occurring anchor points.
Perhaps your baby naps at the same time every day. Or, if your kids are older they may have activities such as swim lessons that happen regularly. The thing about these activities is that they logistically divide your day into chunks of time.
Plan your non-negotiables around these anchor points, maybe one in the morning before, one in the afternoon after, and save one for the evening.
Fill in the remaining time.
Now that your values are accounted for and you have committed to three things that are going to move you forward in your purpose, you can revisit your to-do list of obligations. Pick a few things off of your list knowing they are non-essential and fill in the rest of your schedule.
Planning for the things that are important and fill you up first, utilizing anchor points, and filling in the gaps with your obligations will allow you to build a work schedule that accomplishes everything you need to do and leaves you feeling balanced at the end of the day.
Are you wishing you had a worksheet to walk you through all of these steps? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. For more on balancing your family, home, biz, and ME time, head HERE.
Marissa Lawton is a Productivity Strategist for Mompreneurs and the mama behind The Riss Lawton Co. She is the creator of Busy But Balanced, a 1:1 intensive program that helps mom business owners hone their family’s core values and build a schedule around ideals first and obligations second.
In a previous life, Marissa worked in corporate finance. She then became a Mental Health Counselor who specialized in women's issues. Today, she uses her training as a licensed therapist along with her business degree to help moms develop a strong Mompreneur Mindset and build Sustainable Strategies to raise their biz baby and their real-life babies at the same time. When she’s not helping mamas manage their time, Marissa is chasing her shockingly smart 2 year old daughter, watching horribly addictive reality TV, or binging on business-building podcasts.