The self-help industry is a massive, multibillion-dollar market — and most of it is for entrepreneurs. It makes sense. We entrepreneurs are always looking to better ourselves, enjoy more freedom, and achieve that famous work–life balance. But too many self-help gurus focus on the planning rather than the doing.
Be honest: how many books and planners have you bought that are now gathering dust? Have you ever tried to form some healthy habits only to fall back into your Netflix-and-pizza routine a few days later?
The problem with these self-help “hacks” is that they’re essentially Band-Aids for the problem. To truly strike a balance, you need more than a plan. You need a blueprint.
Planning vs. Mapping
Many people love planning because it feels like getting something done. Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to make lists and identify your goals. But where many people struggle is in putting those plans into action.
So, you need more than a list. You need a plan to implement your new habits. You need to map out the tasks that support your goals.
Think of it as the difference between an architect’s rendering of a house and the actual blueprint. The rendering gives you the big picture: what kind of life do you want? What’s the overall shape and style?
A blueprint has the precise details of how you’ll achieve your vision. There’s a logical order you must follow. After all, you can’t build the walls or install the windows until you’ve laid the foundation!
Making Your Goals Specific
It’s relatively easy to identify what you want out of life. As an entrepreneur, you probably desire financial stability, the freedom to be your own boss, and the joy of bringing your unique idea to market. Perhaps you also want more time with the family, disposable income to travel, etc.
Those are all noble goals, but they’re not specific. Too many self-help books focus on vision boards, bucket lists, and other high-level techniques. Add in pseudoscientific ideas about money manifestation, and you’ll be left feeling like you must invest 100%, 24/7 into your business. Yet you haven’t mapped out the actual steps to reach your goal.
To live a balanced life running your own business, you must make your goals specific:
Bad example: “Grow my agency’s client base fast.”
Good example: “Book 10 new clients within my first 3 months of launching.”
This is important because when your goals are well-defined, you can easily identify the tasks you need to do. You know when you’ve completed a milestone. So, once you’ve achieved that, you know
But when you are constantly chasing an elusive and ambiguous “I want,” you’re more likely to give up all your time to working on your business. And that leads to burnout, imbalance, and even resentment toward your enterprise!
The problem with these high-level self-help ideas is that they leave no room for balance. You’re either working on your business 24/7 or you’re not meeting your goals. By developing a blueprint, you can map out those goals.
Remember: clarity leads to confidence, which leads to competence. When you take the time to define the actionable steps toward your desired life, you gain clarity. And the rest follows naturally.
That feeling of accomplishment when you complete a supporting task generates momentum. And as you know if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, momentum is crucial to entrepreneurial success.
But here’s what’s really powerful about blueprinting your business goals. When you don’t feel the pressure to constantly “hustle,” you allow space for rest and recovery. You learn to forgive yourself when you fall short. By contrast, if you’re chasing an ambiguous dream, you never really feel like you can disengage — and therefore you’re constantly struggling to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
So, take care of yourself. Let your blueprint be a tool for achieving that elusive work–life balance. And remember: specificity creates clarity, which launches the Wheel of Momentum.
This blog is inspired by an episode of the Simplifying Entrepreneurship podcast in which I chat with Dr. James Bryant. He’s a leadership coach with Better You 4U and the creator of the Engineer’s Blueprint for a Balanced Life.” You can watch the full interview below.