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13 Feb 2013 / Julie

perhaps a few too many words on “balance”

Wow, so apparently it was over two years ago when I wrote the very well-recieved 10 Tips for Finding Your Groove & Getting Sh*t Done.

Well, team – i think it’s time to reprise it.

Over on Fast Company, there’s 5 Insanely Simple Work-Life Balance Shortcuts From People Who “Have It All“. And while you might think “oh yeah, sure okay, whatever,” it isn’t unachievable (as long as we define “have it all” as “have everything YOU want in YOUR life” and not use some external, imposed “keeping up with the Joneses” definition). The article hits on exactly the (frankly, one) thing that will make your life less crazypants “busy” and more “balanced.”

That thing is… drum roll, please…

INTENTION.

I talked about the importance of attention in How to be successful back in May. Basically, success comes from love and love is shown through attention. But intention is just as important.

The FC article talks about things you can do to make “balance” happen (have one calendar, review your goals, etc) but the main idea is that

YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.

(shocking, i know) and that YOU and YOU ALONE are the one who can determine your priorities and DO THE WORK YOU NEED TO DO (see #4). YOU GET TO DECIDE WHERE IT IS IMPORTANT TO SPEND YOUR TIME.

I can already hear the critics – “But my job is too demanding! I don’t have time to do the things I want to in life!”

Okay, first off – What the hell is that bullshit? Take some responsibility, will you please? NO ONE is making you DO ANYTHING! (yeah okay you have a mortgage to support, but REALLY, if you didn’t want to pay it, you don’t have to. you just have to understand the choice you’re making.)

Secondly, define for me “too demanding.” Then, tell me – do you like your job? No? Then go find one that has the demand level you prefer – and then make all those other things in life that you want to happen, happen. Oh, you like your job? Then maybe you should either a) get help/delegate because you truly are being overworked b) try a better time management strategy or c) stop complaining and take control over your life anyway. [oh, or option d) stop watching TV and spending time sharing cat videos on the internet]

Sure, you’re not going to roll out of bed tomorrow and be living your perfect life. But if you figure out what that perfect life looks like, and start making DELIBERATE steps towards that end, you’re already ahead of the game. (See also: Go, Live your Dreams.)

Can’t spend the time you’d like with your partner? Well, it’s not an all or nothing game, is it? Spend what you can. Do as much as you can until you can do more. Then do more. (Unless it’s not a priority for you, in which case, don’t do it at all.)

Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up

YOU CAN LIVE A LIFE OF WHATEVER BALANCE YOU’D LIKE. You just have to be INTENTIONAL, DO THE WORK, MAKE THE TIME, and REFOCUS when needed. 

Look, life is busy. Life is crazypants sometimes, but you make time for what you deem important. Don’t feel guilty not making someone else’s priority a priority of yours if it’s NOT a priority for you. Learn to say NO.

AND LEARN TO LET YOURSELF OFF THE HOOK. Sometimes we say no to too many things, we get away from our intentions and goals and plans and we get down on ourselves. DON’T! Take a breath and refocus – get back on that horse!

Trust me, I know a little something about balance and not-balance. My days are so crazy I schedule SLEEP and DUDE, DON’T FORGET TO EAT appointments with myself. But for me, that’s what balance looks like right now- nutsoid, but happening.

In 2012, i chose five main areas I wanted to focus on. If it didn’t fall into those main areas (or into the sub-goals in each) it wasn’t going to happen. It was a no-brainer to say NO. And, because i’m crazy visual & i created color-coded calendars to help me manage it (and corresponding gmail labels), it was easy to see in a second that I wasn’t spending enough time in one of my stated goal areas because there wasn’t enough of that color showing up on my calendar. Or, too much of another color.

Don’t get me wrong – i’m not at my “perfect” state yet – there isn’t NEARLY enough Orange or Green on my calendar and WAY TO MUCH BLUE. I’d like to reduce my commute to give me an additional SIX WHOLE HOURS a week to do something other than drive to and from the office I technically don’t need to be in. I’d also love to figure out a way to delegate more at work (it’s hard to delegate when one and a half of you are doing the work of five people). But that will come. And in the meantime, i will let myself off the hook, remind myself i’m human (as painful as that is to admit sometimes), that i can only do so much, and continue on.

Also remember that “balance” comes in waves – maybe you don’t have a day-to-day sense of balance right now, but you know that while work is crazy-busy right now, it calms down in a month and that’s the month you’re going to refocus on those things you can’t get to now. That is balance, too! TOTALLY COOL.

Oh hey look, that crazy pink and red holiday is coming up – Why don’t you take some time in honor of the day of love to show YOURSELF some love – spend some time getting intentional with yourself. Make a date with yourself (and don’t stand yourself up!) Or, at the very least, let yourself off the hook – find YOUR balance. And don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. If you’re doing it the way you want to do it, rock on. Intention ftw.

Good luck. I’d love to hear how you do.

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