If you never take away any other nugget of good and valid information, please read this and learn from it. Seriously. If there is one thing that has effed me up in life more than once, it is THIS.
We all hear about work/life balance. We see the tips and tricks. We download the printable checklists. We watch videos on YouTube and listen to numerous podcasts to finally crack the secret code. We wait and hope that we will glean some magical pieces of information that will add glimmering radiant hope to the disaster that has become you as you try to “balance” your life.
Let me tell you something, friend. I too use to think that one day my calendars, dry erase boards, checklists, or SOMETHING was going to fix everything. I would finally be “caught up” and I would one day have the perfect balance of work-life and family life. No more constantly feeling overwhelmed. No more guilt trips of not being there enough for the kids when working and not giving enough to the business when with the kids.
Balance. Peace. Serenity.
I tried EVERYTHING and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t find my balance. What was I doing wrong?
The truth of the matter was that I was doing a lot of things wrong. Gulp
That is SO hard for me to admit, but it’s the truth. I was doing some things right..but more things wrong. Worse than that was the fact that my ENTIRE definition of work/life balance was majorly off.
I had the mental image that one day this perfect balance would happen. When I got this one thing or that one thing done or reached this goal or that goal.
Here is the problem….that form of balance DOESN’T EXIST.
Let me point out that I am stubborn. Okay...I am really stubborn.
Sadly I am the “fall on your face” type. Yep THAT kind of stubborn. That is how I learn. The hard way. It took a while for me to figure out what I was chasing a magical unicorn that didn’t exist.
Work/Life balance is not actually balancing anything. It doesn’t work like that. You will never hit a point of perfect balance. The truth is...the outcome will go up and down depending on where you are putting your focus and your effort.
It is a constant game of the balloon game. Did you ever play that game when you were a kid? You run and POP the balloon up and run to get the next one. The object is not to let them hit the ground. THAT is what work/life balance is really about. Never let what is important to you (your balloons) hit the ground.
So how do you do that? At first, it was terrible. I was trying to do FAR too much at one time. I actually was proud of the fact that I was a multitasker. The problem wasn’t that I couldn’t do a lot of things. I could. The problem was that I couldn’t do a lot of things well.
That was a wake-up call for me. My goals since that AH-HA moment has been to start to be pickier and start to fine-tune everything in my life.
This is not an overnight task. It took me quite a while of digging to get myself into that hole, and I was going to have to be patient and dedicated and focus to start to get out of it.
Here are some of my goals:
Pick your highest value activities and focus on those first and foremost. Often they are the tasks we don’t want to do. Ask your self what gives you the most for the time spent.
Make a list and stick to it. Prioritize your to-do list. Make sure it is realistic.
Remember to focus on self-care and family time. When life is hectic we tend to forgo caring for ourselves and spending downtime with friends and family. However, this is just as important (if not more so) than many business activities.
Have only 3 tasks going at a time. I admit that I have not got down to three yet, but I am getting there. And I cannot wait. Three ongoing tasks are PLENTY.
There are some other goals that I have in place, and I am sure that things will still change along the way. However, I know as someone who hit full-blown BURNOUT last year, I cannot ever go back to that much pressure and stress on me or my family. It’s not worth it.
How about you? Have you found your balance? Are there some tips and tricks that you have found?
Or maybe you are here reading this because you are there in the big and ugly of burnout right now. If so….just breathe. One step at a time. It is okay to admit burnout. The key is not staying in that place.