I've been wanting to write this post about work/life balance here for a very, very long time. There was a time when I was hired to give speeches on this topic, and I've written numerous articles on the matter, but that was then, and this is now. People still ask me, "how do you do it all?" and I still tell them, "I don't"... but it goes deeper than that, doesn't it? You know. I know you know.
I've been wanting to write about it in a more personal perspective as it pertains to my life now.
This life. This slowed down, off-the-executive-track life. This I'm-making-my-own-darn-roads-so-I-can-be-here-for-my-kids-while-they're-still-young life. One business, two blogs, two kids. Simplified.
So if I've slowed down, and I've hopped off the skirt suit rat race, how come I still haven't been able to find time to sit down and write this post until now?
Because it's one of 7,243 things on my mental To Do list. Because I have kids that add an extra unexpected 1,232 things to that list every day. And because, I know that you know -- you have a list like that too. We all do.
A new study by domain. ME found that most of us are stressed because we are always in a constant state of hurry. The majority of respondents, nearly 39%, stated that they feel high levels of stress around finding work/life balance. How do you feel about your own work/life balance?
While I have slowed down, I am still busy, and I have to say, I think I'm in a good place of balance now -- because I've made peace with it, and I have learned to take accountability. I've acknowledged that my balance doesn't look like your balance. If I am stressed out? That's my own fault. And I do still get stressed out, just not like before. *I* have full control of my own life, and in the past few years, I've been working to take a stronger stand and ignore what other people say I should or shouldn't be doing, say "no" more often, and let go of the guilt. Most importantly, I've learned that *I* am the most important player in this life of mine. And if I don't take the reigns of creating -- not finding, but working hard to build -- balance in my life, then no one else will.
Balance starts with self-care, and self-care is NOT selfish
My balance begins with self-care. The whole putting the oxygen mask on myself first before others.
That's not an easy thing to do, though, is it? Not with kids and husbands and friends and clients and co-workers. I still fail miserably at this sometimes, but I'm trying.
After the reason/excuse of not having enough time, respondents in the domain. ME study said that the second reason they don't take time out for themselves is because they feel guilty. After all, we must exist as mom, wife, friend, CEO, employee, coach, chauffeur, nurse, teacher, cheerleader, chef, janitor - all at the same time. We all only have the same 24 hours in each day. How do we find the time to nurture the title of Woman? How do we do the thing that matters the most? The thing that, if we did not do regularly, all other things would suffer? When put in that perspective, self-care is not at all selfish -- it's a critical component of our every day lives.
First, let's stop using the word "pamper" when describing self-care. Pampering denotes something frivolous that your life could do without. This? This caring for one's mental, emotional, physical health and well-being? This is mandatory.
My idea of balance is likely very different from yours (I am NOT a spa person, for example), but in the end, it all leads to being able to do all of the things we want to do with a clear head, full heart, and more energy. Here are some of the things on my self-care list that help me find work/life balance amidst the madness of it all.
Time with friends and family
My family and my friends are my zen. I crave time together and find that nothing else brings me more balance than making sure that I spend quality time with my kids and my husband every single day. My little family is tight, and they are my everything; if I feel unbalanced in any way, time with them always brings the scales back to balance.
I also make girlfriend time a priority, and try to see my dearest friends as often as possible. Girls Night Outs are a regular occurrence (I think I do at least two or three a month), as are coffee and lunch dates. How often do you make time to just be with friends and family?
Do you hate working out, like I used to? Maybe, like me, you just haven't found the right form of exercise that fits your interests and style. I thought that I hated working out with other people, but I was wrong. I love going for a run with a friend or two; I have no discipline to go for a run on my own, and quite frankly I get bored. I love going for walks and hikes with friends and soaking up all of the glorious nature around us here in Oregon. I don't like exercise classes, but I do love, love, LOVE working out at home with my family. We have been doing videos (P90x3, Insanity, T25) together at least 4-6 times each week. Not only do I feel incredibly strong, but I've also lost 10 pounds. More importantly: we have found a way to make exercise that we enjoy a part of our family time together.
Taking care of my physical health has definitely helped me find more work/life balance in each day. Have you found an activity that brings physical balance into your life?
Building a flexible business doing all the things I love
I can't just do one thing. I get bored and I actually get high anxiety when I feel stuck just working on one type of thing. For me, the ability to switch gears and design after hours of writing, or write after hours of paperwork, brings me peace and soothes my anxious soul. I need to write, design, strategize, analyze, empower, embolden, paint, cook, organize - I need ALL of these outlets in my life to feel whole. So I designed a work path for myself that brings me the balance I need. Do you feel your work brings you balance?
Adventure time outside of my comfort zone
While I can't always just hop on a plane to Hawaii as in the photo above, balance for me means getting OUT of my comfort zone and familiar surroundings. Whether it's taking a class to learn a new skill or freshen up skills, or exploring a new neighborhood or part of the Northwest, I have learned that I need to constantly push my comfort level in order to feel balanced in my life. I need to be challenged in order to have balance. How about you: how often do you purposefully seek opportunities that push you outside of your comfort zone?
As much as I enjoy meeting new people and spending time with others, I desperately NEED alone time, and often I prefer it. If I don't have enough quiet in-my-own-head time each day, I am a total mess. How often do you allow yourself alone time?
These are some things that bring me balance, and I plan to do some of these on #MEday, on Monday, March 16, 2015. The day is meant to promote the values of self-appreciation and the importance of taking care of ourselves.
What about you? Mark your calendars, and do yourself a favor: do something to celebrate YOU that day! We can all use a special excuse to take care of ourselves and help us get that balance back in our lives.
And while you have your calendars out, block out some time for yourself in the future. Whether you can spare a couple of hours once a month, once a week, or 15 minutes each day, schedule that time like a regular appointment. And, like your doctor's appointment, know that you cannot back out at the last minute -- because there will be a price to pay, and losing the balance in your life sometimes means your health and happiness, which is a much steeper price to pay. Trust me: I know this all too well.
And in the end, all we can do is our best. Some days we'll fail to meet our lofty expectations as business owner, mother, friend, daughter, citizen, and sometimes we'll soar. I'm okay with that now. I suppose learning to manage expectations is a big part of creating that balance.
How do you build balance in your life?
What will YOU do on #MEday to help recalibrate your work/life balance?
This post was sponsored by domain .ME. All thoughts, opinions, and photos are, as always, my own.