I’m staying late at the office. I have to get this done before tomorrow!

Above is an example text from my husband that I receive at least three times per week. In the world of entrepreneurship, “late” does not mean 7 p.m. It’s more like 11:30 p.m. in our household. And while nights may be his weak spot, mine is the opposite. I start my day between 5 and 6 a.m., by immediately grabbing my phone or sleep-walking toward my desk, unable to wait even a minute to get the work day started. The to-do list seems to loom like a black cloud over my head while I sleep, and it demands that I get it done first thing.

BUT LATELY, I’VE BEEN ASKING MYSELF, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I DIDN’T GET IT DONE?

When you have a high-stress job or own your own business, it’s easy to feel like responsibilities pile up with no end in sight. There’s a sense of urgency and a frequency of heart palpitations that come along with the ding of an email arriving in your inbox, demanding yet another minute of your time. Additionally, as an entrepreneur, the truth is that you can always work more. There’s always more to be done or another way in which you could challenge yourself, grow your business, and take things to the next level.

AND YET, IF YOU FIND THAT YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE IS CONSISTENTLY SUFFERING BECAUSE OF YOUR INABILITY TO SAY NO TO YOUR TO-DO LIST, WHAT IS THE POINT OF WORKING SO HARD?

There are different seasons in your job or your business. There are times when you need the resilience to stay up late, wake up early, grind it out, and get stuff done, to put it lightly. However, if this becomes a lifestyle rather than a season, the only thing in your future is a burnout. If you spend your time racing toward the finish line only to find you’ve sacrificed everything else you care about along the way, what’s it really worth?

The question comes down to a matter of trade-offs. If you don’t get your to-do list done, if you say no to work to say yes to your life, a few things may happen:

you might make less money;

you might disappoint someone;

and you might risk your status in the company, promotion, or a big sale.

However, if you say no to your to-do list, a few other things may occur, as well:

you might re-align your priorities;

your definition of “success” could change;

and your relationships may become more valuable than your achievements.

The key to finding these measures of success is knowing when to say no to work and yes to family, relationships, fun, rest, and more. You can’t say no all the time, or your career will fail. Similarly, if you only say yes to work, your life might fail. You have to decide what sacrifices you’re willing to take and which ones will cost you too much, both financially and emotionally. 

The difficult part of this equation is that no one can solve it for you. You have to analyze your work/life balance and decide what needs to continue and what needs to stop ASAP. If your busyness is becoming a lifestyle instead of a season, it’s time to create better rhythms and learn how to push the temporary aside to make time for the forever.