When we think of retirement planning, we think about money, but this type of preparation can enrich your quality of life and job performance today as well.
Have you ever heard the Franklin Covey metaphor of “sharpening your saw?” Basically (the way I remember it), it’s a story of a guy who’s really busy at his job cutting down trees. He works long, hard hours every day, cutting the branches and trees; keeping his saw at work. His sweat equity is second to none, but there’s one problem. He’s working so hard and he’s so focused on cutting down trees, that he won’t pause to do anything else… not least of which is sharpening his saw. You see, what he doesn’t realize is that he’s working much harder than he needs to; if he would take the time to stop cutting and sharpen his saw, he could cut down more trees in less time.
This is a common theme among business owners–we can get so caught up doing our “work” that we don’t take time to maintain our most valuable equipment–ourselves.
Ask yourself right now, “What is the most valuable tool I use in my business?” Is it your mind? Your ability to innovate and create new solutions to problems? Is it your gut instinct or intuition that helps you decide which course is the best to take next?
Any of those tools can get dull if you don’t take the time to hone them, but the question is: how? If you’ve committed all of your time and focus to your business, your first instinct is probably to do something else business-related. But don’t limit yourself!
Research shows engaging in creative hobbies boosts your on-the-job performance, but what’s even more important is that it increases your quality of life. Imagine that you’re a business owner who’s spent 5 years (working constantly) getting your business started and profitable. You’ve established a quality team that you trust, and you finally have some “free” time to dedicate to non-business pursuits. What will you do?
Well, five years into your business, you might be family oriented and want to spend time with them, so let’s imagine that’s what you do. It’s certainly an important and valid choice, but what happens another 15-20 years down the road? At this point, your business is going strong, your children have left the nest, and you’ve been working on either succession planning or selling your business. You’ve gotten to that wonderful place where you’re about to have actual free time again. What will you do with it?
Currently, you may not feel like you can devote a day each week to your hobbies, but as you are growing your business it’s important to remember that you are more than just a business owner. And if that’s not enough to encourage you to do something fun, imagine what your life will be like if you have no outside interests when you finally do sell your business or retire. Elderly people who thrive are those who have an active social life and wide variety of interests. Nobody wants to feel irrelevant when they retire, but if you have nothing to do or have to completely reinvent yourself at age 60, how enjoyable will your life be?
Taking time to sharpen your saw today–this weekend–will help you develop a skill that will enrich both your business and your life: enjoyment. Having fun is a skill you can hone, and it’s a muscle that atrophies without exercise… so go out and play!!