Business consultants and independent consultants spend a lot of time working. A LOT OF TIME. It’s part of the job. You’re strategizing, planning, problem solving, projecting, calculating, and anticipating. You’re marketing, selling, giving advice, listening, and testing solutions. You’re brainstorming, coaching, teaching, and making decisions. You’re going over your day in the shower and reviewing the day’s checklist of accomplished tasks in bed at night. You succeed when your clients succeed, and you’re so tied up in their businesses it’s as if their businesses are your own. You live and breath your work–something we all desire. Being passionate about your job eludes many of us, and you feel very fortunate to do what you do.
However, there is a fine line between loving your work and being your work. This has nothing to do with hours put in either. It’s a mentality and one that can be all consuming if we let it. Opterre understands how easy it is to get wound up so tight in your career you can’t find the end. We coach and mentor many business consultants in their practices who sometimes lose themselves in their work. Here are our top tips for business consultants to not be defined by what you do.
TIPS TO SEPARATE SELF FROM WORK
- Make time for yourself. We know you’re busy. You have family, pets, kids, a house, and a car to take care of; however, there is nothing more important than making time for yourself. Yes, this is a conscious effort, but it’s easy to let your hobbies fall to the wayside when life gets harried. Have an accountability plan in place so the temptation to skip these activities are lessened. For instance, sign up for a team sport such as adult softball where you’re depended upon. Have a partner to go for a run with every day. Schedule a time with a music instructor so you’ll have to pick up your guitar and play it at least once a week. Join a book group at your local library. Don’t begrudge yourself this time.
- Spend time by yourself. If you’re a morning person, get up 30 minutes earlier to have a relaxing cup of coffee and watch the sun rise. If you’re a night owl, find a quiet place in your home such as a study or den to sit and watch the fire in your fireplace, listen to classical music, or enjoy a cup of hot milk before bed. Don’t consciously think about your day. Instead, let your mind flow. You’ll be surprised what ideas come to you in these unplanned moments.
- Find a cause. There are so many amazing non-profits in this world that this can be easier said than done. The point of this is find something outside of yourself and your work to care about and volunteer your time for. Whether it’s the local homeless shelter, the local raptor rescue group, a non-profit organization that helps foster kids, or your local humane society, support it with all of your heart, your time, your energy, and your financial resources. There’s nothing better to bring you out of your created world than giving to others.
- Develop deep friendships. Friends as defined here are the people who you call when you get a flat by the side of the road, you call in the middle of the night to watch your kids so you can take your spouse to the hospital, and who you call for emotional support when your pet dies. Ultimately, life is people. Invest in people, and your career will automatically take second stage.
- Have morals and values. This can be an organized religion or political cause but doesn’t have to be. We’ve all experienced situations where we’ve been asked to do something outside of our moral compass. Know your sense of right and wrong, and stick to it.
As business consultants and human beings living in the 21st century, we spend so much of our lives working that sometimes we feel that’s who we are. We’re a doctor, a lawyer, a business consultant, a problem solver, a teacher, an astronaut, a writer, a mechanic, or a server. When we’re not working, we’re hankering to get back to the job. We’re thinking about the job in our spare time. We work on our job outside of business hours. We make one more call. We send one last email.
Life is too short to lose yourself and when you finally realize it, twenty-five years have passed. Yes, we all want to make an impact on this world in the short time we are here. We want to help others achieve their dreams and passions, and we want to feel we’ve left this world a tiny bit better for having been here. As top business consultants, we’re driven typically more than others to make a difference.
Rest assured, you have. You also want to have time to just be. Be who you are without the label of your job. Enjoy yourself and your hobbies. Spend time with others if you like to hike and climb or camp or hunt or do karate or play a musical instrument or be the comic in the family. Get to know others on a personal level. Listen to their life experiences, and offer advice when prompted. Practice random acts of kindness. Mow your neighbor’s lawn. Rake your neighbor’s leaves. Take the five to ten extra minutes to shovel their driveway of snow. Go on a long walk with your spouse to unwind at the end of a long day. Listen to your teenagers when they tell you about their day. Value others.
It’s easy as a top business consultant to convince yourself your clients’ work is life work. It’s helping others. It’s making an impact. The question you have to ask yourself is this: what’s my work?
At the end of the day, your job is just a job. You are not what you do. Life is a set of collective experiences and memories. Life is your son’s basketball game, your daughter’s gymnastic competition, your family vacation to Alaska, the road trip to Grandma’s house five hours away when you got a flat tire, the cutting of the Christmas tree, the Thanksgiving meal, the board game you played with your kid in the middle of the night because he or she couldn’t sleep, the book you read outloud with the horrible ending of a dog dying and you threw the book across the room, the visit with Santa Claus when his beard fell off, the bird you rescued off the side of the road, the money you dropped in the Salvation Army bucket, the Girl Scout cookies you bought that you didn’t need and don’t like, and the dog dying in your arms. This is life, and the mark you’re making.
Opterre has years of helping others’ start their own consulting businesses. We’re here for our clients when they need us, and we support them every step of the way. We also coach our business consultant clients to find that work/life balance. You work hard, so you can play hard. Just make sure you remember to play. Contact us today!