Work and Life: A Balancing Act
By Tyler O’Hara
In today’s fast-moving world and in our grind-centric industry, achieving a work-life balance is sometimes challenging. I know this all too well. My thoughts on this go beyond just our own mental battles and desires—society, social media, the news and the people we look up to don’t help our mental state. In today’s world, people want instant everything … It’s nice how connected we are, but this is damaging at times.
What We Can Control
Let’s start by recognizing the only thing we can control in life—ourselves. As someone with a clinical diagnosis of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this has been extremely hard for me to learn. I say this because I have met many people in this industry who share the same traits. Couple that with a deep desire to work extremely hard, and you have a recipe for disaster—or at least a mental breakdown.
I’ve been in this industry since 2008 and started my business in 2018. I have been on a 15-year grind. This was all my choice. I was in control of that. I have ruined relationships, burnt friendships, and caused myself to go almost completely grey. I have sacrificed more than most people are willing. For what?
Money doesn’t buy happiness, and anyone who says otherwise lives a sad life and is not truly happy. I come from a family of blue-collar workers, Irish immigrants and German immigrants. I am not afraid to work hard, but it comes at a price. I am all for working very hard but, in the last two years, I have been working on my mindset because there were many times I was so mentally beaten down that I didn’t know if I had it in me to keep going.
I’m not a fan of the term “self-care” because I feel it’s used in trendy ways nowadays, but sometimes we all need a little “me time.” There were times in my career when I would work 30-plus days straight. I was in the building mode of my business, but that mentality is not sustainable whatsoever, and these are the lessons I’ve learned the hard way. As business owners and entrepreneurs, we cannot let business be the only thing we do.
You will perform better at business if your head is in the right space. Don’t lose touch with the things that bring you happiness. For me, that’s staying active. I love to work out. When I can consistently stay on a workout plan, I am 100% better.
Lately, I have been playing pickleball with my fiancé a few times a week—it’s an awesome game. This also kills two birds with one stone: enjoying time with her and giving me a mental reset by doing physical activities. You need to find the things in life that help you mentally reset so you can perform at the top of your game at work and home.
In today’s world, everyone wants everything right now. Customers want answers from you right now, they want the jobs done yesterday, and everything is supposed to happen right now. Well, news flash—that’s too bad. Do not feel bad or beat yourself up about this. You can control how you feel about it. If a customer doesn’t understand, then that’s too bad. They can go somewhere else and be someone else’s problem.
Over my career, I’ve learned those are sometimes the worst customers to deal with. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with customers and tell them, “I don’t talk shop on the weekends.” Your children, if you have kids, won’t understand. They will see a parent constantly on their phone because a customer needs an answer right now.
Make them wait. If you lose the customer, trust me, it will be fine. The world needs to slow down. People are too rude nowadays, and the world is moving faster and faster. Stay present and in the moment.
Social media doesn’t help work-life balance. It’s only making it worse. All we see on social media nowadays is everyone trying to be an influencer … all the hottest cars, attractive people and everyone’s best moments. Control your screen time. Your whole life doesn’t need to go on social media.
Social media is a tool for business and a digital photo book of our work. I can’t stand when I’m somewhere cool and half the people there are viewing the cool place through a phone because they have to put it on social. Stay in the moment with your loved ones, interact with your kids and set a good example.
I love nature and getting away from the noise of a city. I love to breathe, take air in and smell the pine needles of the forest and the crisp mountain air. Enjoy a sunset and watch it slowly go down with your partner in your arms.
Your sunset photo that someone will view once and forget about is meaningless, but holding your partner in your arms and watching the sunset while you chat peacefully together is a priceless, meaningful memory that may last a lifetime.
The Bottom Line
My best advice is simple. Don’t work yourself into the grave. Don’t lose touch with the things that do your mind, body and soul good. Eat healthy and take care of yourself. Stay organized and efficient. Make plans and stick to them. Don’t let social media consume your life. Social media could be gone tomorrow, and it doesn’t matter.
Don’t let customers rule your life. Set boundaries and keep them. There are no emergencies in PPF, tint and coatings. Check work at the door when you get home, be present for friends, spouses and kids. More people than you may know look toward you for examples.
Life can be taxing and daunting sometimes, but stay present in the good times. You can only control yourself. Life is like the ocean. If you stand in heavy waves and try to fight it like a wall, you will be knocked down most of the time. If you can learn to ride the waves on the way up and down, you can control the outcome.
Tyler O’Hara is the owner of American Wrap Co. in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
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