How do you handle the balance between your professional life and your personal life?
Many people struggle to find the perfect work and life balance. That’s particularly true for those who are the primary caretaker of either children or aging parents (or both!).
More often than not, our professional lives win the big tug-of-war between work and home obligations. It can leave you feeling guilty for not being “enough” to everybody who needs you. When you feel that you’re lacking in one part of your life, it’s common to blame yourself.
Does this sound like you? If so, listen up, because this is important:
YOU’RE DOING GREAT, AND YOU ARE ENOUGH!
This balance thing is not easy or simple. In fact, it’s HARD! We live in a crazy full on, sleeping-with-your-cell-phone, go-go-go world! So to start, take yourself down off that meat hook of blame — at least for as long as it takes to read this article.
There is no rule book or instruction manual for finding the best balance for you. So you need to be gentle with yourself throughout this process. But before you get started, be aware of two things:
Two Big Problems With Finding Balance
The first problem with finding balance is the concept of “perfect balance.”
It’s as elusive as balancing those old-fashioned scales in science class. Expecting yourself to create a definitive 50-50 split between personal and professional responsibilities is a setup for failure. “Perfect balance” is the white whale to your Captain Ahab.
Second, people think they have to live up to this concept — but at the same time, society doesn’t condition us or teach us how to take care of their own needs.
We only have so much bandwidth to take care of everything. At points the system will be put through stress tests.
Happily, there are multiple solutions to these problems with finding balance.
Three Essential Solutions For Finding Balance
First, remember this: if you feel like finding balance is tough, you are not alone. Few people around you have mastered the art of balance.
Second, you need to accept that there will be times when you will have to be “all in” with your professional life. The key to mitigating this need is creating personal time in small pockets that you can lock into your schedule, and then committing to keeping those appointments with yourself come hell or high water.
Setting boundaries is not a crime. In fact, most successful people do this because it’s the only way to stay sane!
Third, and most importantly, you need to know that you simply aren’t here to be all things to all people; the word “no” really is a complete sentence, and “I can’t right now” with no further explanation is an acceptable answer.
It may sound revolutionary, but saying no can actually mean saying yes … to yourself!
Will it be hard to say no to other people? Yes.
Will some friends and family members get pissed? Yes. But you’ll all live.
On the other side of that no, is a yes. A yes to you.
Maybe that yes is paying someone to baby/parent sit so you can go see that movie you’ve been dying to see.
Or maybe it’s taking a car service so you can have some quiet time instead of struggling with traffic or mass transit.
Perhaps you hire a cleaning person to get that tub spic and span so you can have a wonderful hot bubble bath.
No matter what the “yes” you’re looking for, take it very seriously. I’m talking as seriously as you would an oxygen mask dropping in front of you on an airplane mid-flight.
If and when that happens, you’re supposed to secure your own oxygen mask first. Once your oxygen mask is attached firmly to your face, you’re better equipped to help others.
In life, this translates as taking care of yourself so you can be who you need to be for those that need you.
This “yes” is how you fill up your emotional and psychic gas tank. You need to keep yourself intact in order to give yourself to others. Otherwise, there will be nothing left to give.
A Crucial Lesson on Balance…
Don’t forget this…
Balance starts with you.
Your personal life is the foundation on which your professional life stands. If the foundation doesn’t get the maintenance it needs it won’t stand in a storm or last for the long haul.
Becoming your own number-one priority will take time. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. You can’t do 100 crunches on day one but you can do five. Remember to be merciful with yourself when you forget — but be sure to get back on track.
Balance starts with the Inner Presence of knowing what you can and can’t do, and saying so out loud. If you begin to say no to something every day that doesn’t serve you and begin to say yes to yourself every day, eventually the tide will begin to turn and you will create more of that elusive balance you seek.
P.S. Have you checked out my podcast interview with trader Brice Foose? In the episode, Brice drops a ton of mindset gems — including several about maintaining balance in life and work. Don’t miss it!
What does balance mean to you?