For most, the idea of having Work-Life Balance is a magical myth that will never see the light of day. Life constantly seems like a race against the clock (When did Todd need that draft by? HOW is it Sunday already?).
But, when I entered the Working World, I made it my personal mission to Stay Balanced. I never compromised my daily sweat session — no matter how overwhelming my inbox became. My Blackberry was never charged on the weekends. I had an uncanny ability to “turn off” once the clock struck 6pm on Friday evenings.
I can honestly say that I never carried work home with me. Because, I realized very early on in my career that I was an overall happier person if I could give my full self into both my personal and professional lives.
I get it — it’s a difficult thing to do. I’m not sure how I formed these habits, other than having a headstrong view that Working would not lessen my ability to Live.
But, I will admit that over the past few weeks, since I entered freelance-work-from-home magic land, Finding Balance has been extremely difficult for me. When I had a typical 9–5 job, my idea of having a “balanced day” was don’t answer emails after 8pm, find time to sweat everyday, and don’t bring work home with you. But, now that my home is work, I need to redefine what “Balance” means.
Because, I’ve been waking up and immediately starting work since my commute is only from my bed to my couch. I barely take breaks — going for a short run feels indulgent. And, I can never, ever Turn Off on the weekends.
It seems like all of my personal rules about Balance have gone out the window.
And, I realized that I’ve been more stressed out than ever. It feels like I’m an addict — constantly checking my email, running over to my computer to respond in .5 seconds. My mind was scattered in 100 different directions, and it never felt like I was fully present.
Even though I was doing things that I loved, I still want a wholesome, balanced life.
So, I decided that I had to revisit & readjust my “Balance Rules.” Because, I truly think that it’s up to us to set boundaries in our work + personal lives. It’s our choice to answer that 2am email. We won’t get fired if we don’t — I promise.
It’s almost like the old chicken or the egg theory: Who will be brave enough to Say No? To pause your response time. To set boundaries. It’s scary, but we all need to feel comfortable being in the driver’s seat of our lives. Because, having work-life balance doesn’t mean that you’re a shitty worker. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like Working Hard. It means that you like Working Smart — and you value your whole life so much that you are not defined by the person you are behind a desk.
This weekend, I asked myself a few of those hard questions, and wrote my Balance Rulebook for this new chapter of my life. I forced myself to think about the lines that I have to draw to feel like I’m living a Full Life “outside” of work.
Here are my Balance Rules as food for thought for you. Take a few minutes today and ponder what your Balance Rules are. Write them down. And allow yourself to believe that you can live a Full Life, too.