You know how sometimes there seems to be a theme that weaves itself in and out of your daily life for a while? That’s been happening in my life recently. The topic? Work-life balance.
It’s one of those seemingly trite and definitely overused phrases that make some people (me) cringe. But the topic has come up so often lately that I felt perhaps I needed to honor it with some serious introspection.
As a woman who owns two different businesses, is married with adult children, is a part-time clinical instructor and lives on a farm with many loving animals and many responsibilities, how can I create balance? How can I maintain (ha!) my sanity?
Don’t get me wrong. This is by no means a gender issue. This is an issue that knows no demographic biases. At the end of the day, we all need a sense of balance.
If we are all in agreement on the premise that we all need a sense of balance, how do we go about achieving that? What can we put into place that will assure us that a balanced life will be the outcome? I guess if I really knew that answer, I would be in high demand on the talk show circuit. But, I’m not. As it turns out, I’m just trying to figure it out, too. However, I do have some tips based on the wisdom of age and my old friends, Trial and Error.
Have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C and maybe even a Plan D
It sounds silly, I know. But, it has been the fact that I have back up plans for my back up plans that has helped to keep me sane. And, it keeps me from crying, “Woe is me,” and from pointing fingers (usually in the wrong direction) at who I blame for my problems. It’s too easy to make other people or situations wrong. And it serves no actionable purpose other than giving you a momentary sense of false bravado. If Plan A didn’t quite work the way you thought it would/should, put Plan B into effect without breaking stride. I’m not even talking about life plans here. I’m talking about something as trivial as running out of your favorite bonding agent. This should not even be a blip on your balance radar; Plan B should allow you to simply reach into the cabinet for the other bonding agent. And, for today, life didn’t fall apart!
Talk issues out with your trusted love circle
It turns out that Robert DeNiro was on to something when he talked about his circle of trust in the movie “Meet the Fockers.” You know who these people are in your life. Use them. Learn to open up and talk about the issues that are weighing you down. Share the burden so that you don’t tip the balance in your life. Keeping all of your concerns and worries inside will just let them build up to a point when finally something has to give. And I, for one, would not want to be around to watch that happen! Talk therapy works!
Set aside some alone time every day
I know, I know. I just went on and on about the value of talking about your concerns with someone you trust, and now I’m telling you to set aside some alone time every day. But, this is so vital to maintaining that fragile work-life balance. You need to be alone with your thoughts and meditate about the day’s events. Alone time can come in the form of workouts, walking the dog, even a cup of coffee first thing in the morning as you watch the sun peek out above the horizon. You can define your own version of alone time; just make sure you take advantage of it. It should be no less than 15 minutes and ideally 30-60 minutes. Think of it as a sort of reflection time to reevaluate your plans, issues and feelings. At the end of your alone time, you should feel somewhat refreshed and reenergized.
It’s not always easy to maintain that elusive work-life balance. The demands of both aspects of our lives are sometimes overwhelming and push us to the limits. But, if we can be mindful of these three tips, it may just make that balance a little bit easier to keep.
If you’ve got techniques that help you to maintain your work-life balance, I would love to hear them! Share them with us in the comments section below!
Meanwhile, here’s to a balanced life!
Claudia Anderson, DDS