It’s nearly a lifelong quest–how to create a work-life balance. But it is doable with some planning, persistence, and a change in your mindset.
We have been taught that taking care of ourselves first is selfish–that we always should put the other person’s needs before our own. However, if you are not taking care of yourself–if you are not happy, satisfied, and productive–you are not in a position to help another person achieve that state, explains Tom Ingrassia, founder and president of The MotivAct Group/Tom Ingrassia Productions and author of One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams.
Think of it this way–when you are on an airplane, getting ready for takeoff, what are you told to do if the oxygen mask drops down? You put it on yourself first…Then you help the person next to you with their mask. If you don’t have that life-giving flow of oxygen going into your lungs, there is no way you can help the person next to you, says Ingrassia.
But after you make a switch in your thinking, it doesnt just stop there. You have to not just think, but do. Make concrete plans that you put in your appointment book, just like a business commitment. You don’t just say, Let’s get together soon, you actually commit to a time and date, even if it’s weeks or months in the future, priority management coach Jan Yager, author of Work Less, Do More: The 7-Day Productivity Makeover and Put More Time on Your Side, points out.
According to Yager, there are three types of time: Me Time, We Time and Us Time. And each deserves attention.
“Me time is for you. Going to the gym, taking a cooking class, going out for lunch or a movie with girlfriends, studying yoga, taking an hour to read a novel for fun, she explains. We time is for you and your romantic partner or spouse. Going out on date night even if you’re married 10 years and have a couple of little ones at home Us time is when the family gets together. The immediate family and even the extended family. The immediate family needs to do things together, including family dinners, activities you like to do, like bowling or camping, and going on trips, whether it’s an extended weekend or a one or two week vacation.
Here are some tips to make me, we, and our time happen.
1. Want the balance? Do the time. Take time every day to do something just for yourself–something that satisfies your soul, and that refreshes and nourishes your inner being. Even if you can spare just 30 minutes from your schedule, do it EVERY DAY, says Ingrassia.
2. Slow it down. Take time to meditate–visualize your ideal life, if you can have it exactly the way you want it. Then, clarify, set and prioritize your goals, and develop the plan to get from where you are to where you want to be, suggests Ingrassia.
3. Time for a plan. Make time to spend with family–spouse, kids, and the significant people in your life. Make a date night; with your significant other. Plan an activity with your kids. Visit that sick relative in a nursing home, says Amy Geffen, a FiveO’Clock Club Certified Career Coach.
And it is possible to carve out this time if you really want to. Yesterday, my husband and I drove five hours round trip to have lunch with my nephew, whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. I am so glad we made the time for that visit! Because today was going to be a work holiday–President’s Day–it made it easier to make the long drive, but I had to set the plan in motion. We all had to commit to a day when we would get together, shares Yager.
4. Be brave and trust in yourself. Have the courage to follow your heart. Your heart will never steer you in the wrong direction, because it is through your heart that the universe speaks to you. If something speaks to your heart, don’t hold back….Jump, encourages Ingrassia.
5. Enjoy a pastime. Pursue a hobby that takes your mind off work, and requires your complete concentration. It could be playing tennis, making pottery, knitting, bowling, salsa dancing, etc. When I make pottery on the wheel, I have to be totally focused on what I am doing, otherwise I cannot center the piece, open the clay, and bring up a wall. I cannot possibly think about anything else, says Geffen.
6. Help others. Volunteer for a cause greater than yourself. Volunteering gives you a sense of satisfaction and broadens your perspective on life. It can take as little as one hour a week or even once a month, doing things such as tutoring, helping in an animal shelter,visiting the sick, feeding the homeless, helping out at a walk or run for your favorite charity, etc.,” offers Geffen.