I was stunned when I heard it – “Next summer is our 30th anniversary, and I’m planning a full two-weeks off work to celebrate with my wife.” This proud declaration from a man who owns a $30 million a year company demonstrates what a sad life he has. This is a man who lives in abject poverty with no clue how to run a business.
I see it all the time. Business owners whose personal lives are train wrecks, with no time to invest in their kids, spouse, or non-existent hobbies, and no time to even think about creating meaning in their own lives. They are hostages to their businesses with no end in sight for their incarceration.
People think this guy is a great business owner because he works all the time and has a lot of toys he doesn’t have time to use. I think he lives in abject poverty.
Riches vs. Wealth
Riches is just money. Wealth is freedom. Freedom is the ABILITY TO CHOOSE what to do with my time. Time is more valuable than money. It usually takes money to buy time, but unless the specific goal is to buy time, money can make us hostages.
Money does not bring freedom. Time brings freedom. This man has millions and has no freedom. He readily admits that if he is gone from his business for a few days things begin to go awry. He has built a $30 million business that depends on him personally being there every day! He is a hostage to his business. He is not a business owner; his business owns him. He lives in abject “time poverty”.
Intending to receive time, not just money
You get what you intend, not what you hope for. You can just hear this man starting his business. He intended to do two things:
1) “I’m going to work REALLY hard” and
2) “I’m going to make me some money.”
He got exactly what he intended – hard work and some money. And he is trapped by the hard work. He did not go into business intending to get both time and money from his business, just money. He HOPED that getting money would give him time and create freedom, but we don’t get what we hope (wish) for, but what we intend to get.
A Day a Week, a Week a Month, a Month a Year
I built five businesses like he did and was trapped as a hostage every time. This time around I intended to do something different – I decided this next business was going to give me both money AND time, and everything I did from the beginning was driven by forcing my business to produce both.
As a result, I now have every Friday off, the last week of every month off, two weeks every three months, and the month of February. I also now get the unintended bonus of every other Monday off, and only work a half day on the other one. A three-day, to three-and-half day week, with 16-20 weeks off each year is something I’m getting used to. I use only a few weeks for vacation, and CHOOSE (freedom) to invest the rest in Africa and helping others build businesses around the world.
A recent American Express OPEN survey found 66% of business owners haven’t taken time off in several years. And of those few who do take vacation, 68% of them check in daily to try to run things from their beach chair (we didn’t call once from New Zealand for 3 1/2 wks last February).
The famous Framingham Heart Study found those who took regular vacation are 32% less likely to die from heart disease and 20% less likely to die from anything else.
The objective of your business should be to build your Ideal Lifestyle. If you’re proud that you finally get two weeks off, you need to reassess how you are running your business and your life, and refocus on WEALTH (time/freedom), not just RICHES (money).
Is this just for special people? No. I built five businesses and never got off the treadmill. The sixth time I simply decided/intended to do it differently, and, what a surprise, it turned out different.
You get what you intend, not what you hope for.
What are you intending to do with your business and your life?