Monday, July 28, 2008

Avoiding the Double Life

Consciously or not, many people lead two distinct lives. They exist as one person in the corporate environment. Their other existence is the "everything else" person for home, church, community, etc. The extent of the contrast between these two depends on the individual. It has been my perception, however, that the differences are pretty dramatic. Look at the evidence. Why are people so excited for the weekend? Why do people relish vacation days? Why do we laugh so hard at The Office or Office Space? It's not just that we don't enjoy work as much as those other parts of our lives, it's at least partially due to the fact that the "work self" is more different from the rest of our life than we like it to be.

In contrast, small business owners and entrepreneurs find it nearly impossible to lead the double life. For better or worse, all parts of your life become inextricably (25 cent word!) linked. Now, many people will react negatively to that based on their corporate world experience. Imagine, however, a job that can fit with the rest of your life and becomes a valued part of your identity. Not to say that all small business is wine and roses, but it is real and it becomes part of you.

This is the reason that the decision process for getting into entrepreneurship is so important. Rash decisions lead to a miserable existence where all of your life is infected by something that does not fit. There's no walking out at 5:00 on this one! Know enough to know what you are getting into. In fact, uncertainty around your comfort level with that can inform your choice of paths. For example, don't buy a business that may be difficult to sell (as most are) if you are uncertain you want to stay married to it.

Avoiding the sense of a double life can and should be a real upside of small business. Most people don't realize the toll that the corporate double life takes. (Admittedly, a paycheck every two weeks can cover many ills!) Make sure that the choices you make are ones that can accommodate this reality.

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