Remember my article on being a career woman and balancing relationships with mum? Now, because all good things come in pairs, (pause for a dramatic effect while you reminisce over your favourite pair of things… mmm double scoop pistachio gelato), I figured that one more stab at this topic was exactly what was needed. Yes, we need to lengthen, then conclude the discussion – cue memories of Goldilocks. Let’s talk balancing work and life this time.
Right, you now know how I stumbled my way into an acceptable balance of a career, dealing with family members and still kept my mom largely proud of me. But how about we talk about you? How well can you do all I’ve been able to do without going through my very unorthodox methods?
Well, hold your horses, people, ‘cos it’s Christmas and I come bearing gifts!
When I first realized I was finally living a life that overwhelmed me, the first thing I did was to immediately decide what my life’s priority was. For me, it was my job; I could deal with everything else in life if my job situation was fine. So, I paid very close attention to how I felt about my job. I knew that if my feelings changed from liking it to being frustrated, it would have a run-on effect on every other aspect of my life.
So, it’s really simple, you have to center your world around something. It helps you with a constant point of balance when things go wildly out of sorts, ‘cos, truth is, they will. You know, life is nothing if not an unending series of ridiculous events.
Carry your life along with you
When we think about priorities, we often think of them as zero-sum games. I never thought of mine as that. See, I unconsciously realized that there were lots of little ‘good’ choices involved in deciding one’s priorities. So, though work was my primary priority, I still dedicated time to being social with my aunts and participating in their lives. I still shared life experiences with my mom and the rest of my family.
There are only so many times you can miss plans before people begin to wonder if you really care about them. This can really hurt if this sentiment comes from those you hold most precious. To avoid this, it’s important that you carry everyone along with you and your life. Now, this doesn’t mean talking shop at dinner but letting them in on your life would help them understand your situation. They’ll understand that you’d spend more time with them if you could.
(Don’t take the piss, though. Nobody likes a piss taker)
Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re overwhelmed
You’ve carried your folks along and they understand, but now nothing is going according to plan. You don’t want to come off as complaining because they’d think you’re just bad at managing things and you don’t deserve nice things.
Don’t worry, this is very normal. Don’t laugh but I apparently missed school when this was taught. I kept trying to put on a brave face for everyone. But once I began to falter, I realized that it was okay to sometimes, not have things go as planned.
Sometimes, you plan to the minutest detail (seriously, you need to plan! There are not enough hours in the day) and somehow things still don’t work out. You miss your mom’s birthday, your friend’s graduation and that deadline at work. You may feel like a failure on all fronts, which is fine. But instead of getting overwhelmed, struggling, and crying on the kitchen floor in your work pants like I used to do, admit it to yourself.
Talk to a trusted person (preferably, someone you know has more on their plate than you do). Tell them what you’re going through and ask for advice on how to deal with them. I called my mom pretty much every day to moan and cry on the phone. I listened to her make light of my ‘giant’ issues and that helped.
And always remember to take meaningful breaks
Now, this point is very rich, coming from me. I’m the reigning champion of team ‘No Leaves’. 5 years! No, really I need a GoFundMe account for this, it’s no longer a joke. Of course, because how else can I afford an all-expense paid walking vacation to south-east Asia?
No debates on this. You need breaks. Lots of them.
I may not have been able to go on my dream walking vacation but I try dedicating some time during the week for myself. My current set up makes Saturdays free for me.
I clean my house on Wednesdays so I can take the trash out on Thursday morning. This means that by Saturday, I can wash my hair, exfoliate my skin, put a mask on my face, do my nails, watch terrible movies, call my friends, cook and go out. Most Saturdays, I do all of these and more but on some others, all I manage is a cup of coffee as I sit at my laptop working. I work in a start-up, and so these things happen.
However, even when I’m unable to do personal stuff during the week, I try to have a day to check in on myself. Because at the end of the day, it’s called work-life balance, right? There’s more to you than just work, family, and friends. You definitely need to take care of you because if you don’t, no one else will.
Now that you know what to do, create a balance
Finally, I know how hard it is being a young career-driven woman in this economy. But in our pursuit of success, let’s remember that the whole point of life is enjoyment and beautiful memories.
Now I leave you with these ever charming words my father once said to me – “Your colleagues will only observe a minute of silence”.