This post by Annie McKee hit so close to home that as soon as I read it I knew I had to blog about it. It combines everything I’ve been thinking about the past three months – what exactly does work/life balance mean? How can I be successful at work, home, in school, and with my loved ones without getting stressed out? I love my job – but why do I still seem to love my life outside of the office more?
My main takeaway from her piece is that there is no such thing as a work/life balance, and those of us who have been spending time working to achieve it are simply spinning our wheels. Life is always going to be (and should be) more important than work. Our friends and family will always be more important than the work we are doing. Instead, we should focus on balancing ourselves. That includes mindfulness, a practice I’ve recently learned and have been incorporating into my life. I love this quote from her piece:
You can start by cultivating practices that allow you to re-engage with yourself, focus optimistically on the future and connect compassionately with other people. You can start with mindfulness — tuning in to yourself, your environment and others.
As she also mentions, mindfulness does not necessarily mean taking time out of your already busy day to meditate, do yoga, or the like. In fact, I don’t take any time out of my day when I practice mindfulness. Instead, I am working to incorporate it into what I’m already doing. When I’m driving, when I’m waiting for the crosswalk light to change, when I’m waiting for my takeout to be ready… I practice mindfulness. And that practice encourages me to remember to do it when I really do need it – preparing for a meeting at work, being called to speak in class, or doing something new. Instead of getting anxious, I work to live in the present and appreciate the moment.
Of course, I have not achieved perfect self-balance yet. But I’m working on it. And I highly encourage you to read the Annie McKee’s post and think about balance in your life. I want to leave you with one last quote.
Like mindfulness, hope is a powerful antidote to stress. A vision of a better future, optimism and the belief we can make it happen helps to calm our nervous system. Think about your dreams. Help someone else achieve theirs. Pick up trash on the way to work. Talk to a child about what he or she wants to be. Actions like these, done mindfully and often will make a difference.