The constant struggle for women today is to somehow obtain a sense of balance between their job and personal life. For many, it is like a tightrope act that can cause anxiety. Worse, it can lead to burnout.
Without balance between your business and personal life, there’s just no way you can survive in today’s fast-paced world and not buckle under the pressure. Each day must include some time for self-renewal, joy and serenity in your life. Just as healthy eating habits take into account your nutritional needs, a balanced life takes into account all of your needs: your need for family, friends, work, play and private and spiritual time.
To achieve balance requires clearly defining your values and shifting a few hours each week from one activity to another. It requires coming to terms with your values and priorities, deciding what is most important and making the tradeoffs they require. Then, you need to have the discipline to create a structure that defines how you spend your time. If you think of your life as a jigsaw puzzle, you may have these pieces squarely in place—going to the office early, staying late to catch up on paperwork and working weekends. If this is the case, where’s the missing pieces of your life—the time for yourself and your family to complete that puzzle?
Having a clear understanding of your values should determine how you spend your time. Values help define who you are and tend to evolve as you get older and wiser. When you ask people what they value in life they usually respond with: children, family, relationships, financial security, education, spirituality, health/physical fitness, travel and volunteerism. These are the things they hold dear, and the things they feel are most important in life. They also mention the activities they most enjoy—boating, golf, music, movies, cooking, etc.
The key to achieving life-balance is to build free time into your schedule so it becomes routine. To do this, you must respect and cherish your free time and make it a habit to block out time on your calendar for YOU. Schedule activities that will regenerate your mind and your body. Get your appointment book and look at your monthly calendar. Then, look at the next two weeks ahead. Take a pencil and make an appointment with yourself in the days ahead to do the things that nourish your mind and your soul and nurture relationships with those you love.
So much of your time is taken up with responsibilities that you need to “steal” a little back for yourself. Block out a couple of evenings to see a friend or a family member. Block out days for bicycling, shopping, museums, family, movies, visiting, golfing— whatever it is you enjoy. If you don’t have entire days, then block out a couple of hours—whatever you can afford. Below are a few more ideas to assist you in this area.
Be Spontaneous. Embrace spontaneity in your life. Do what you feel like doing when you want to do it. Accept last-minute invitations and take short spur-of-the moment trips when possible. Living your life planned to the split second allows no room for spontaneity. Try to block out at least one day each month where you have no plans or commitments with anyone. It will give you an opportunity to be spontaneous and provide some space where you can stretch and breathe and take life at a less harried pace. Gather the kids at the last minute and go biking.
Be Outrageous. Here’s a great way to regenerate your mind and body—especially if you feel you are about to experience burnout. Shift gears to charge your mental batteries by doing something you’ve never done before—even if it seems outrageous. When I started my company, I was feeling overwhelmed with all I had to learn and do. One day my friend said, “Let’s go skating! Tuesday is adult night.” I couldn’t imagine two grown women skating at a roller rink, but she persuaded me to go. The upbeat music was energizing and we had so much fun laughing at ourselves. It was definitely a stress buster. You may not wish to put skates on your feet, but doing these types of things will definitely reduce your stress level and keep your outlook fresh.
Break the Rules! Breaking your own rules helps prevent burnout and may be a luxury in which you forget to indulge. Who says you can’t stay in bed late on Sunday? Who says you can’t take a walk through the park with a friend at lunch hour? Who says you can’t go out after work on the spur of the moment to go to dinner or see a movie? Who says you can’t let the housework go for a couple of days? Who says you can’t block out a few hours on a weekend to do absolutely nothing? Who says you can’t take a day off to take the kids to the beach? Who says you can’t order out instead of cook? Who says you can’t get up and dance even if you have no rhythm? Who says you can’t have a picnic in the middle of winter? Who says you must be a “careoholic” and be overly responsible for the people in your life? Who says doing the laundry is more important than getting on the floor with your child and listening to what she has to say about her day or playing a game with her? Who says you can’t make time to listen to a friend in need?
Just Say No! As Steven Covey tells us, “Learn to say no to activities that are not congruent with your core values.” For example, “I’d like to say yes, but it’s important to me to spend time with my family tonight.” Or, “I’m sorry, I really need to recharge my batteries this weekend.” Don’t leave the activities of life-balance at the bottom of your “to-do” list. When you incorporate leisure into your life, you will be able to handle the grit and grind of living and working in today’s real world. Alternate hard work with hard play. Balance giving with receiving. Take care of your responsibilities to others with taking care of yourself. When you do, you will be able to think more creatively, perform more effectively and enjoy your life. TPW
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