Everyone struggles with maintaining a healthy work-life balance to some degree. The misconception that those who are self-employed work less or those who are C-class business people work less is just that; a misconception. It is this belief and motivation that can drive individuals to open their own business to begin with. Unfortunately, for those who are in business by themselves, reality is quickly discovered. More often than not, the workload falls on their shoulders with little relief. Entrepreneurs adopt a “no days off” mentality to compensate for the sheer quantity of business obligations.
So how can a person experience high quality of life (the goal of most business owners) and a satisfactory work-life balance?
Countless studies have been done showing a desire for work-life balance and the significant correlation between work-life balance and quality of life. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001879102000428, http://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/protect-health-13/balance-life, and http://time.com/43808/how-to-achieve-work-life-balance-in-5-steps/ are just a few examples, but none provide answers for those who are self-employed.
Looking at specific studies focused on entrepreneurship work-life balance, it seems as if coping mechanisms are the ultimate determining factor for achieving high quality of life. It is also important (and should not be entirely surprising) to note there are gender differences, with male entrepreneurs experiencing higher work-life satisfaction and higher quality of life than female counterparts, simply because they interpret the “balance” differently. Coping mechanisms can be divided at the individual level and family level. Some individual coping mechanisms include segmentation and suppression of emotions or thoughts, accommodation of work or life, limiting the other, compensation at work or home for unsatisfactory behavior at work or home (and vice versa), and boundary establishment to limit the cross-pollination of the two. Family level coping mechanisms include having one family member work full time while the other stays at home, postponing or foregoing children, reducing career goals, and reducing personal goals.
In reality, the sobering facts point to achieving work-life balance is just a management of expectations. If realistic expectations can be established and self-managed, satisfaction will inevitably increase. As most serious entrepreneurs come to realize, work and life messily tend to overlap and intertwine, and it is up to the individual to establish reasonable and manageable boundaries.