3 steps to help you create your best life

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Chris Smith

Married, father with multiple startups and a growing law practice. Living at the intersection of law, technology, and life.


Building a business is incredibly challenging for anyone, but the unique demands of an entrepreneur-parent create multipliers in satisfaction that our non-parent counterparts can’t understand. And just as a successful trip to the supermarket starts with a grocery list, success as a parentprenuer requires an organized plan of action based on three critical elements.

Having a family at home waiting on you at the end of the day has a unique way of bringing priorities into focus when it comes to your business. Referred to by some as the “Baby Effect,” the birth of their first child places a never-before-experienced expectation for performance on most parents the moment they first lay eyes on their new child. There is a newfound focus on provision that had been previously muted in most of us.

The heightened focus on achievement of your best life, in business and family, is achievable by realizing success in your life’s highest priorities, but you must first know your priorities and maximize effort toward those priorities before you can ever achieve your best life. So, how do you balance the requirements of successful entrepreneurship with those of successful parenting?  Start with these three steps. 

1. Know Your Non-Negotiables. 

When I’m concluding one year and beginning a new one, I don’t begin with goals — I begin with my non-negotiables. What are the traits, events, scheduling needs, family concerns and cultural needs that I will not compromise or sacrifice in the face of any other demand? This is, and should be, a small list. You’d achieve very little if everything in your life were a non-negotiable.

Your non-negotiables may be spouse, children, faith or the way you look, but the list should be small and broad enough to encompass many situations that arise in life. Identifying these non-negotiables guides your decision-making through the year and helps when a question arises about what course of action to take. If a decision requires violating one of your non-negotiables, eliminate it as an option immediately.  

2. Define Your Priorities. 

If you don’t create your own priorities, others will create them for you. Priorities are those broad elements to your life that move you in any direction. You want your priorities to lead you only toward your "best life." 

I like striving for a best life as opposed to aiming for goals. Goals are always changing and evolving; however, your life is happening in the moment, so your best life needs to be the end-goal at all times. The priorities you create will either move you toward or keep you from your best life. 

What are your priorities? Some priorities may be acquiring wisdom, maintaining an active spiritual faith, having a happy spouse and raising happy children, among many more. You can see that these aren’t specific numbers or activities as much as targets, and although some of them may track with your non-negotiables, they are flexible and are the general areas in which you should focus your time and resources in order to achieve a better life. 

Your priorities set your agenda for action, and when a priority conflicts with another priority, your non-negotiables play the trump card. Priorities set your agenda, but non-negotiables always win. 

3. Execute Prioritized Action Items. 

Action items are the items on your daily agenda that achieve your priorities. Your non-negotiables influence your priorities, which in turn determine the action items on your daily agenda.

If acquiring wisdom is a priority on your list, then reading a book could be the action item. If a healthy body is a priority, then 30 minutes of cardio might be an action item. Scheduling a date night once a week may be necessary to the priority of a happy spouse. The compounding of small daily actions will add up to achieving the goal of creating your best life. 

As an entrepreneur-parent, your children get to witness and experience the process of growing a business first-hand. Implementing this three-step process will help ensure they learn the value of working toward the right priorities from the most important teacher they will ever have.  

Create success at home and at work by identifying your non-negotiables, creating your own priorities, and setting your daily agenda of action items to realize your best life as parent and entrepreneur. The small investment is well worth the return.