Work-life balance… sigh. It feels like this is the topic of every discussion these days.
Maybe it’s the blogging industry. Or maybe it’s being in your 20’s and having absolutely no idea how life is going to turn out (gosh, it’s real). Maybe it’s pressure, from another person, a boss – or even yourself. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s social media–adding in somewhat of a competitive nature of who’s doing what and how they’re getting ahead and suddenly finding yourself stressing that you’re falling behind instead of finding a moment to simply just…
My life coach from 2016, Christina Trevino, calls it a hamster wheel and the term stuck with me. Some discussions I’ve had in the last couple of weeks have been over Adderall; reminiscing over the amount of friends who couldn’t sit down to study without their favorite study-buddy drug. Or the dire need for coffee; because, there just simply isn’t enough time in the day to get every single thing done (is there ever?). Both topic convos suggest that our current world holds us to high expectations that can’t humanly be executed without added caffeine, stress and even drugs.
Last year, when I found myself diagnosed with chronic stress and fatigue, I had to take a step back. In the midst of a never-ending hamster wheel, I could feel the words heal, rest, be, wait pulling me out of the status quo. While everything in sight was pulling me towards these words: work harder, can’t quit, time is now, you are rushed, competition is fierce, keep going, don’t stop now! Months have passed since that time, and I underwent the difficult challenge of learning to actually put “rest” into practice (not working on a Saturday, say what?). I can’t say I’ve conquered it, and I can’t say I don’t fall back into old ways sometimes. But what I can say is that I’ve managed to unlearn the old behavior of not being able to find balance. I’ve managed to understand what it means to have work-life balance at age 24, regardless of bills, invoices, contractors, piling emails, never-ending DMs, photos to be edited, contracts to sign, offices to clean, meetings that need to be held. And since the subject has been brought up to me so many times in the last few weeks, I thought it was only necessary to spill what I’ve learned in my personal journey. Here goes:
- Your job will never validate you. Let’s start with the hardest first. This has been a discussion amongst my friends lately. Believing that your job is your identity is believing a lie; and it’ll cause you to run yourself straight into the ground. When I believed this, the minute I hit every one of my goals, I immediately and subconsciously suddenly wanted another goal and another task and more and more. I was starving for something that simply didn’t exist, causing me to run so fast on the hamster wheel that I couldn’t get off. There is so much more to each and every one you … than what you do. There is a heart and a story behind every one of you reading this right now. You have to slow down to get off the wheel, and you have to believe that there’s so much more to you than what you do to start slowing down.
- Don’t be a slave to your to-do list. I’m dishing some 24-year-old wisdom here: the minute I check off all my to-do’s in one day (man I feel so accomplished), guess what: the next morning the list just got BIGGER (what the?!). Newsflash to Jessi: her to-do lists will absolutely never end. If you can’t get rid of your to-do list, start adding “me time” to your to-do list. Ta da!
- The comparison game is dangerous. We live in a world where we know what everyone is doing, all the time. Watching what your competitors do will only increase the rushed feeling of needing to do it all. Put on your blinders and put down that comparison game. I wrote a post about it here.
- There is simplicity in the moment. Because YOLO. Picture yourself 10 years from now, and you’re looking back at this very time of life. Would you be able to speak about joy, excitement, memories, laughter; or would you think of how hard work was? Give yourself memories to look back on, and peace to remember; something other than work. Sometimes I have to get out in nature to allow this to happen; no smart phone. Just me and stillness. How many times can you say that you simply just rested and did absolutely nothing in peace in the last week?
- You become like who you surround yourself with. I’ve had to distance myself from the blogging industry recently because of this. If I’m spending all of my time with bloggers, I’m spending my very limited non-work time — thinking, talking, and engaging in…work! This is a choice on my part; how am I choosing to use my personal time?
- Your smartphone is great; but it can be your enemy – My Dad was watching 60 Minutes the other day and I overheard a segment on smartphones and how they’re hardwired to cause us to be addicted to them. The minute I dive into the possibilities a smartphone holds, I’m consumed in another world. How can I stay present if I’m spending my time nose deep in my emails, to-do list, text messages, instagram feed?
- Let your morning pave your day. Can you challenge yourself to carve out 2, 5, or 10 minutes to rest in a quiet place? I challenge you!
- “But I don’t have enough time!” In this context, boundaries are key and you are setting boundaries with yourself. Step 1: Be honest with yourself about what’s hurting your personal life and accept it. Step 2: Hold yourself accountable for seeking change. Find my post on setting boundaries here for more.
- Find a happy place. Is this with your best friends? Walking your dog? Running the trail? Laying out poolside? Coffee and notebook in hand in morning PJs? Where is your happy place? Find it; create it; understand it; repeat it. Make this a spot that you want to come back for more rest and time for no one but you, darling.
- Give yourself grace. This is a process, and it’s not instant; it’s unlearning learned behavior and it’s a journey. Give yourself a pat on the back for simply one step in the right direction. I’m right there with you, girl!
Do you guys have any tips on finding work-life balance? Would love to hear from you!