Remember how easy it was to consciously select your career, your spouse, your car, your future… in the game of LIFE? What happened to the ease of planning out your next 10 years with the confidence and self-assurance of your 13-year old self? Now, far past a decade later, you wonder why it hasn’t always proven to be quite that easy. In fact, with the internet, dating apps, and social networks, you find yourself wondering why any effort is required at all!
The reality is, selecting your dream set up—whether personal or professional—takes work, effort, and determination. The good news is, we still get to select all the things we want out of life (we’re not talking about the game anymore), and it’s still fun. It just takes some planning, careful consideration, and good choices. The trick is finding a balance that works for you, because few of us are able to completely separate our personal and professional lives. This is when calendar and discipline comes in. Here are a few tips to get you started:
• Reserve time on your calendar for yourself and stick to the plan. If you plan to work out at 5:30pm, do it! Can you stray a bit? Sure. A meeting goes over, a call runs late, you get hit with a last minute deadline—push back your gym date, but do your best not to cancel it. Maybe you find plans post work, beyond your commute home and making dinner, don’t work for you. Switch it up, try working out in the morning instead. We can’t always predict how our days or even weeks will look, so trial and error is going to be key here.
• Not into the gym? Fine, let’s explore a different route—relationships. All kinds of relationships from family to friends to significant others, these can be the most difficult to juggle with a career. I can’t tell you how to manage your relationships, but I can suggest a few things that may help. When you’re working long hours, trying to keep your bod in shape, attempting to eat healthy, and desperately trying to keep your fridge stocked (who has time to grocery shop, right?), don’t let the pressure of face to face with your loved ones get you bogged down. Here’s where technology comes in… wait for it… FaceTime! My niece and nephew are two of the most important people in my life, but with an hour drive to see them and my sister, I can’t always find the time to get to them. So, FaceTime is my go-to. Sure, it’s not the same as being in the flesh; but, there’s definitely something more personal and special about seeing faces when you speak. Plus, it’s nicer than a text or a phone call, which enables you to become preoccupied. So, even though you may not be able to schedule a real date, make a Skype or FaceTime date.
• Another tip: schedule time in advance. Making last minute plans will only stress you out, but having that little reminder on your calendar gives you time to build up to it and arrange your schedule as necessary. You won’t have to scramble to shift appointments or arrange last-minute child care. With a set plan on your calendar, you are very aware that you have a hard-stop time and are more inclined to stick to it. So fight the urge to turn down plans that seem far away, if worse comes to worse, you can always reschedule—it won’t be the end of the world.
• Last but certainly not least, set aside YOU time. Time to simply do whatever makes you happy—because let’s be honest, few of us really love going to the gym. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Many of us are in the habit of putting others first—your children, your significant other, your colleagues, your pets—don’t forget about YOU. Go to the spa, veg out for an hour (or two), read a few chapters from your book, or catch up on sleep. Do whatever you have to do to unwind and slow down.
On paper these things probably don’t seem too difficult, but actually doing it is where the struggle comes into play. Finding a balance between your personal and professional life is imperative, though. And, the struggle is part of it!
Take a moment to ask yourself this: Had you never struggled, never made mistakes, never had extreme lows, would your successes and accomplishments have felt so incredible? NO WAY! It’s called experience, and that’s exactly what you gain from life and why it isn’t always easy… and why it’s certainly not a game. Your experiences are what got you to where you are today: and you’re KICKING BUTT in your career, good for you! You should be very proud of yourself. But make sure you’re kicking but in your personal life, too!
Overall, our experiences are what make us stronger, well-rounded, enlightened individuals capable of making conscious choices, taking risks, and balancing more than we thought we ever could. The more we learn, the more we know, and the more confident we become. We start relying on others less and start taking charge of, well, anything we want to! Whether it’s your career, your relationships, or your own personal goals, the struggle is what eventually leads you to recognize the good. Once you know what feels good, balancing it all will become easier.
So throw out the board game—or keep it, it’s probably a classic—and start consciously and confidently living your BALANCED life!
Tara Fox is a Project Specialist at entreQuest and works closely with all eQ team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.