by Dr. Tania Howard | Featured Contributor
You have no idea what I mean, do you?
One of my favorite business consultants, Greg Stanley, gave me the best professional advice I have ever received. He said he had seen too many doctors put in 90-hour work weeks, leaving no time for family or recreation. These same doctors would count down the years until retirement, upon which time they would do one of two things; die shortly thereafter, or become bored stiff. The lucky minority would enjoy great health and embrace retirement fully.
I’m not big on playing those odds, so I followed this sage advice: Retire while you’re still working.
Huh?? It took a little more explanation – and a whole lot of guts – to understand and buy into this philosophy, but I am so glad that I did.
Let me explain further.
If you read my last She Owns It piece, The Dollars and Sense of Small Business Ownership, then you know I’ve owned my own chiropractic practice for over twenty years. Some people (like myself) are lucky enough to discover the kind of work that they were truly meant to do. These people never really ever “work” a day in their lives. That is what Greg meant when he said, “you should set up your entire life so that you never have to retire.” If you are working in a field that you love and have a great work/life balance, why would you want to stop? I took his words to heart, and with my very first practice, put them into play.
Graduating with significant educational debt and just a few bucks in the bank, it would have made sense to work 6 days a week. I knew myself well enough, and trusted Greg enough, to know that I would quickly burn out at that pace. I took a leap of faith, signed my lease and opened my doors – three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I decided to work smarter, not harder. My practice was incredibly efficient, giving our patients great care. My buddy down the road often shook his head at me, since we served the same number of clients – all happy, satisfied patients – only I did it in half the time he did.
What did I do the other days? Well – whatever I wanted! When you are self-employed, every encounter with another person or business qualifies as PR, right? So I guess you could say I did a lot of PR…at the gym, the art studio where I took painting classes, the beach where I’d meet other dog-walkers. Each workday was a “Monday” – I’d show up with fresh energy and enthusiasm for the work I loved.
Wait, it gets better.
When I became a mom, I knew that I wanted my primary job to be caring for my girls, yet I didn’t want to relinquish the career that brought me so much satisfaction. My answer? Work only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That way, my girls still thought of me as a stay at home mom, even though I contribute a significant amount to our family’s financial well-being. I will say that, though I was able to maintain a full-time practice in three days, taking it down to two required trading money for time, a sacrifice that I was very willing to make for my kids.
I know that many of you enjoy flexible work schedules and /or work at home, which can translate into working all the time. I would urge you to squash that ASAP! Carve out your work time, but also ink in your play time. You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘pencil in’, I said ‘ink in’. That’s right. Taking care of yourself should be as much of a priority as taking care of your business.
If you are overworked, stressed out and eating take-out at your desk every day, you and your business will soon crash and burn!
Invest in yourself so you can show up as the best CEO ever. Rarely will I give up time with my family (or yoga) for a meeting that can be scheduled another time. Set your priorities, and design your day and week around them.
Being the entrepreneurs that you are, I would encourage you to set up your life in a way that can sustain and fulfill you for a lifetime. One of the reasons you chose to own your business in the first place was so that you could dictate your own destiny, was it not? I can tell you that very few employees get to write their own ticket like we do. There are some downsides to business ownership (hello self-employment taxes and unpaid vacations!) but living your life by design – and not default – is one huge upside that can make it all worthwhile.
Dr. Tania Howard – Health and Wellness Guru – www.drtania.com Annapolis, MD
Dr. Tania decided to become a chiropractor at age 15 when she experienced a complete metamorphosis in her health through chiropractic. She completed her undergraduate work at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and doctorate at Life Chiropractic College in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the founding partner of Broadneck Family Chiropractic, where she has practiced for over 20 years with two amazing partners who make it possible for her to take her message ‘on the road’.
Hollywood called, and she enjoys providing care on movie sets and behind the scenes at live performances. She’s been profiled in Washington Post Magazine and many trade publications, and has done extensive postgraduate work in prenatal and pediatric chiropractic, nutrition, exercise, and family wellness. A chiropractic lifestyle has helped her to stay fit enough to become a triathlete at the age of 40! She lives in Maryland with her three true loves, husband Braden and daughters Francesca and Julia.
The advice and guidance Dr. Tania has given her patients has been written, filmed, and boiled down to be informative, yet entertaining. There is a LOT of good health information available online, but most of it is, excuse us, BORING! Conversely, there are so many entertaining lifestyle bloggers to enjoy, but few, if any, have any healthcare credentials. She fancies herself a “Dr. Oz meets Bethenny Frankel” hybrid, and it’s our intention that Drtania.com will bring good, solid health and wellness advice from an “every girl” perspective, to it’s readers.