Balance. A word we comprehend, yet seldom practice. In a world that screams at women through this advertisement or that blog on how to be the perfect fill-in-the-blank, miniscule allowance is dedicated to learning how to be your best self.
The workforce today is a demanding arena of employers requiring their employees to come in early and stay late, be available on weekends and respond to emails by the second phone alert. In an effort to achieve our professional aspirations, we women therefore go in early and stay late. We’re available on weekends and respond to emails by the second alert on our phones. We do this all at the expense of balance in our personal lives.
When the demands of our professions envelop our morning coffee chats with friends, spin classes, book clubs, dinner dates or the ability to get out of town for the weekend, the light in our soul can quickly dim. We forget what caffeine, sweat, reading, good food and adventure tastes like. Though pursuing our professional goals gives us a sense of purpose and a dream to strive toward, we must make a conscious and intentional effort to balance our lives as a whole, even if working in an unbalanced workforce.
Let these three steps act as a guide to doing just that:
Set boundaries in your work schedule
The reality of the workplace is that no company will take care of you; only you can take care of you. Yes, there are times when working a 10 hour day is necessary, but do not make that the normality. Be intentional about caring for yourself by taking a lunch break, breathing in the fresh air of the outdoors, consistently drinking water and dedicating time to knowing and laughing with your fellow colleagues. Setting boundaries will allow you to control your career and not allow your profession to control you.
Prioritize your hobbies
Hobbies are the joys that are the building blocks of who we are. Whatever those activities may be for you, incorporate them into your weekly schedule. Define them as non-negotiable. If you enjoy walking, walk for an hour each day; if you like cooking, cook five meals each week; and if you like traveling, make getting out of town once a month a calendar constant. Like the rent we pay, the oil changes we schedule for our cars and the holidays we observe, our hobbies need to be added to the list of life’s must dos.
Make a (written & mental) list of your life goals
Each New Year we set new goals, and each December, we reflect on what we’ve achieved and wished we had achieved. Like each January 1st, we need to make a list of what goals matter most to us. Is having a family, making lifelong friends or traveling important to you? Could it be owning your own business, learning a new language or writing a novel? Whatever your list is, think about it, write it down and memorize it. In your moments of frustration and weariness in the workplace — because we all get them — reflect back on your list, allowing it to motivate you and remind you of what ultimately matters most.
Most importantly, remember that life is intended for living, not working. Though working is an aspect of life, it should not be what defines us and, most certainly, not what imbalances us. So don’t feel guilty for defining your boundaries, prioritizing those hobbies and memorizing a list of life goals; your body, mind and happiness will thank you for it.
Image via Gabriel Flores