By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Dr. Sharon Lewis-Bultsma

How many of you entrepreneurs at one time or another are faced with overwhelming guilt?  If you’re a fledgling business owner, you may feel guilty that you’re not doing enough to get your business off the ground. If your business is up and running, you may feel like you’re spending all your time on the business and ignoring your family and personal life. Or maybe you feel guilt you’re not doing enough for your employees, not keeping up to date on technology the way you should…the list can go on and on.

I asked Dr. Sharon Lewis-Bultsma, PysD., for ways to deal with guilt.

“Guilt can be useful. It can be our consciences indicating to us that we are doing something wrong. It can also be a huge waste of emotional and mental energy,” says Dr. Lewis-Bultsma, who is a licensed clinical psychologist.

If you feel guilt about not spending enough time on work and business goals, perhaps fear is the underlying issue, she suggests. Do you fear failure? Do you fear success? Do you fear that even your best efforts won’t be enough?

“Take some time to look inward and reflect on the deeper issues that can reveal what is [really] going on,” says Dr. Lewis-Bultsma.

Whether you feel guilty about work, about family, or about something else, the key to learning from those feelings is to be honest with yourself. “It’s important to be self-reflective and thoughtful about what we value, and learn to prioritize our time, energy and resources accordingly,” Dr. Lewis-Bultsma explains.

“Sit down and think about what is important to you. Is it being at home when kids get home from school, being home every day, or being home a few days a week? Is it being able to take days off when the kids are off school? Is it freedom to do family things on weekends instead of cleaning house?”

Pinpointing what you value and what you would like to have happen is the first step. “When you know specifically what your values are, [you’re in] a better place to begin to try to tailor your work schedule,” Dr. Lewis-Bultsma advises.

The good news is, as an entrepreneur, you make the rules. You’ve got more freedom than most people to craft how and when you will work. So if being home with your kids every afternoon is your priority, figure out a way to make that happen. That could involve rearranging your workday or outsourcing some tasks. “Sometimes a cleaning service is the best money you can spend in order to free up your time with your kids and spouse,” says Dr. Lewis-Bultsma.

You may not get everything you’re dreaming of, and you may not get it right away—but if you stay in touch with your values and stay focused on your goal, you can make your business and your life a lot better—and eliminate a lot of guilt.

You can find Dr. Lewis-Bultsma at