If you have children of your own, chances are you have heard this phrase too many times to count. It either prompts you to laugh inside or to sit down and have a little teachable moment with your kids about the realities you face as a business owner.
While the parental accountability of childhood may leave us as we become adults, “adulting” can feel very far from freedom most of the time. This is especially true if you have small children and double negative freedom points if you are balancing both a young family and the responsibility of having a business!
Time freedom is very similar to creating financial freedom. It all stems from infrastructure. For example, in order to have financial freedom, you must make a plan to eliminate debt, put a budget and retirement plan into place, and plan to grow your income as well. Similarly, to go on a vacation you must choose the date and destination, book the hotel, transportation, and so on. After the infrastructure of your trip is set, you can then fill in the gaps with the fun stuff like activities, sightseeing, and dinners.
So what does infrastructure look like when you are trying to make the dream of entrepreneurial freedom a reality and have more time wealth in your life?
Sit down and dream
What do you want your life to look like? Answer honestly! How many hours a week do you want to work on your business? Will you have to hire to make that happen? (Hint: probably so) How many weeks a year would you like to be away from the business? Do you want to travel or stay home during those weeks? Do you want to be a mompreneur who volunteers at your child’s school or shares your gifts with a local non-profit? Do you want the freedom to serve at your place of worship or be able to spend a day each week visiting your mom across town? Your business and your schedule should serve your personal goals just as you serve the business’s goals.
Start with the big picture
Once you know what you want your recreational, personal, and work life to look like, take a couple of hours with your family to lay out the weeks you plan to be away from work throughout the year. The winter holiday break is the perfect time to do this on an annual basis as you are looking towards the new year. Once you have your time-off set on your calendar you will find that rest, relaxation, and family time are automatically more tangible. It feels like you are gaining time but really you’re just being more intentional about where your time goes.
Rhythms at Home
From here, look at what kind of structure your home life needs so that you have the personal time you desire, such as regular date nights, a weekend away by yourself, or having neighbors and friends over for dinner on a regular basis. Determine what rhythm those days would have (weekly, monthly, quarterly) and put them in your calendar. You can always move them around by a week or two should a kid’s baseball game conflict—but make a commitment to put this personal time on the calendar to hold yourself accountable! If you do not put something on the family schedule it will not happen.
Now that you have some quick wins planned for your time at home, it is time to set the structure of what your work weeks will look like. This is the day-to-day infrastructure that entrepreneurial freedom is truly built upon. Each weekend, sit down with either a journal or goal-setting program (My favorite is Darren Hardy’s Living Your Best Year Ever Planner). Determine what your top three goals are for the quarter, month, and coming week. Those goals will be what dictates what your week looks like. You can usually only tackle three goals or projects each week in order to see them through to completion. I suggest planning your workdays in three 1.5 hour chunks of time that move your business forward. This system will offer maximum efficiency while allowing breathing room for the day-to-day tasks you do, and give you space to be with your family after work hours.
The biggest obstacle that comes between mompreneurs and freedom is not a lack of time, it is mindset. Working moms can either have the mindset of “mom guilt” and scarcity or adopt a mindset of abundance and intentionality. As a working mom, know that you are giving your children the gift of witnessing hard work, seeing dreams being achieved, and observing the impact you have on your clients. You are also giving your family the gift of flexible time … you just need to put the proper staffing and infrastructure into place in order to utilize it. Guilt begins to set in when we allow our businesses to sit in the driver’s seat instead of our intentional plan. We begin to shed the shackles we have placed on ourselves when we dream of what could be, make a plan, and put guardrails in place to help us stick to that plan.
Communicating this newfound structure with your family, as well as with your staff (where appropriate), will be imperative to your success. Sharing with your team your prioritization of family time not only sets a good example, it can help eliminate guilt when you are not physically present in your business. You chose to own your own business for a multitude of reasons, including the freedom it promised to provide. Make a plan, work the plan, and do not be afraid to hold it to that promise!