The Guilt Factor

You’re a business owner. It’s one of those rare occurrences where you’re doing something non-business related. But instead of focusing on what you’re doing, you’re thinking about your business. What if I miss an important phone call? What if someone has an emergency when I’m gone and doesn’t know what to do? What if I’m not giving myself enough time to meet a deadline and I should really be working now?

This is what I refer to as the guilt factor. My partner Mike and I talk about it all the time. The example we always use is going to the gym. Something that should be invigorating and refreshing becomes stressful because you’re constantly trying to cram a 60 minute work out in to 45 minutes by cutting sets short or skipping your stretching. We’ve always said that we want to get to the point where we don’t have to think like that.

Here’s the secret though: that point will never come unless you force it. Mike and I have spent the last several years sacrificing a lot in the name of our business, doing only what is necessary to keep us sane and healthy so we can get as much work done as possible. You can only do that for so long. Luckily for us, Pure Adapt is in really good shape right now and we don’t need to sit up at night trying to figure out where payroll is going to come from next week. But there’s lots of stuff we could worry about, and if you’re a business owner that will never end. It consumes you, and if you’re not careful it will drive you insane.

Personally, it was different when I was worrying about where the money would come from. I felt guilty if I did anything that wasn’t furthering my sites, particularly when I was a solo-entrepreneur back in the SportsLizard-iPrioritize-SEO consulting days. Now that we don’t have those worries, I’ve started working at shedding that guilt. And trust me, it’s not easy. You become addicted to it, and it becomes the norm.

While difficult, the answers are kind of obvious. You’ve got to draw lines and boundaries, and more importantly you’ve got to train yourself to not feel guilty when you’re not working. I’ve begun spending more time at the gym lately because my goals at the gym are now getting the importance and place they deserve. I’ve begun scheduling more social events for week nights and weekends because I want to spend time with my friends and family. I don’t carry a blackberry or iPhone, and sometimes when I’m reading at home I go as far as shutting down all of my computers and turning off my phone so no one can get a hold of me. That might sound a bit over the top, but it’s what I need to do to take time for myself. If you don’t give yourself that respect, you can’t expect anyone else to.

2 comments on The Guilt Factor

  1. George says:

    Adam,

    Great blog post! I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this, but I have been thinking about this a lot and I’m glad that you have taken the time to write about it. I’ve had some days recently where I finish up dinner and haven’t turned my computer back on. Quite honestly, it feels great to do when needed.

    I feel like I’m doing a much better job organizing and managing my work load. What normally would take me 10 – 12 hours to get done, is now only taking me around 8. I’m rewarding myself with those extra hours, while still maintaining the same level of productivity.

    I really enjoy being able to do something without having thoughts of the business clouding my mind. This is one of the main reasons I love playing poker. It’s one of the few things I can do for a period of time and completely forget about the business.

  2. […] of the biggest things I’ve been focusing on lately to eliminate the guilt factor is controlling my day.  As Christmas and New Years approach, it becomes increasingly difficult to […]

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