I have been working with some newer entrepreneurs lately as a consultant/mentor and there’s one thing that keeps standing out to me that I think is really important for anyone starting a business, or anyone already years into entrepreneurship.

This is something that has taken me around 5 years of being an entrepreneur to truly figure out.

But first, let me give you a 5-second overview of who I am and why you should even listen to me. My name is Michael Gardiner and I am a 20yro serial entrepreneur currently traveling around the world running a couple of online businesses primarily focused around digital marketing. This has allowed me to make a solid living and also achieve my dream lifestyle. Ok… introduction over.

Here’s the real meat.

You’re allowed to do the things that make you happy before you reach your financial goals.

Last year I had a 6 figure year, and this year I will probably hit multiple 6 figures, the shocking thing is (and this genuinely would have shocked 15yro me), it does not feel that much different to have a 6 figure net worth or a 6 figure business.

Obviously, having some cash reserves will genuinely increase your happiness levels because of the security it provides, but (at least for me) once my needs were met with some money to invest, I did not magically become happier or more fulfilled in life.

I think the people who not only win at business but win at life are the ones who understand that business is not a means to an end. You won’t magically have all the free time in the world to pursue your favorite hobby, spend time with your family, or travel when you hit the $10,000/month mark.

The time to do these things is now. Build the things that make you happy into your routine and allow your business to be a vehicle that serves you. I see a lot of people slaving for their business when it’s not necessary. Obviously some hard work and sacrifice is necessary, but it certainly is not a requirement to get rid of things that genuinely provide you with joy.

I overworked myself for many years when I first got into entrepreneurship, and I did enjoy it, however, it eventually led to burnout, feelings of depression, and a lack of passion.

I also found that I genuinely am more productive and more excited to work when I have a better work-life balance.

I can get all the work I need to get done in 5 or 6 hours that I could get done working a 10 hour day when I was burnt out.

I’m sure this is something that differs between people, but this is something I certainly wish I had considered at the beginning of my journey.

Just as a little bonus, I thought I would mention a system I have been using to keep accountable with my work-life balance.

I have an excel spreadsheet that each day I use to measure three main categories:

– Happiness (how much did I enjoy the day, was I happy and fulfilled?)

– Productivity (did I accomplish what I needed to get done today?)

– Interesting Activities (did I do the things I enjoy doing and that make me happy?)

I rate each of these categories on a scale of 1–10 and get a daily average between all 3, weekly average for each specific category, and an overall weekly score.

In addition, I log all of the activities that affect these scores on the side of the excel sheet. To give some examples:

– Did I workout?

– Did I meditate?

– How much sleep did I get?

Tracking variables like these allow me to identify things that increase my happiness or decrease my productivity.

This gives me a way to reflect on the day, and also clearly track my personal growth. I find without being detailed in my tracking it is easy for my brain to make excuses, but when I look at explicit numbers I don’t tend to make those excuses.