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Work-Life Balance

Finding balance

I’ve had a full-time job for seven weeks now and I’m finally learning what it means to have balance in my life.

From finding more stability to spending quality time with the people I care about, I’m practicing being more present each day.

Some small part of me will always be looking towards the future, but in the meantime, I can start to tackle my priorities one at a time as opposed to letting them overwhelm me all at once.

With balance comes clarity. I don’t feel the urge to quickly solve all of my problems.

Instead, I can identify root causes that impact multiple parts of my life and focus my energy on solving them, one-by-one.

It’s hard to truly appreciate this sort of balance until it becomes a part of your life, but like most things worth pursuing, it takes patience to figure out what it looks like to you.

Biting off more than I can chew

I’ve always had a hard time saying, “No” to new opportunities.

You could say I’m addicted to the rush that comes with a new project or idea.

However, as many of us learn (the hard way), saying, “Yes” to everything is one of the quickest ways to welcome disappointment.

Personally, I thought I could handle my new job, freelance work, new projects with my company Viabl, and writing while somehow still balancing my relationship with my fiancé.

As I’ve quickly found out, I’m not doing as well as I thought.

I received my first email from a client mentioning the timeframe built into our contract.

As someone who prides myself one helping others take their ideas from zero to one quicker than anyone else, reading this was both a gut punch and a reality check.

I’ve always focused on successfully managing the expectations of the people I help. When I fail to meet a certain expectation I set, it communicates a lack of professionalism.

Now that I have less time each day, I have to be even more realistic with my commitments.

That’s why, once I finish my outstanding freelance work, I’ll be taking a small break to reevaluate where I want to go and, more importantly, how much I can take.

For all of you who have never worked with your own clients, I can’t stress enough the importance of managing expectations (and clear communication).

It can make or break your career.

First day of October

It’s the first day of October.

That means sweater weather, pumpkin ale, and bonfires with friends.

For those of you in the corporate world, it also means the beginning of the fourth quarter.

You know, the time of year when, thanks to the holidays, your office is either in total chaos or a barren ghost town.

Usually around this time, I find myself revisiting my final goals for the year.

When you work for yourself, this is one of the most important things you can do in order to ensure a smooth transition into the next year.

The thing is, with my new job comes a newfound sense of calmness.

For the first time in my life, I don’t have to necessarily worry about where my next paycheck is coming from.

Instead, I can focus on growing my relationships, both inside and outside of the office.

This means more quality time with friends and family - the kind where you lose track of the hours thanks to sharing stories and laughing so hard your stomach hurts.

At the same time, I’m nowhere near finished creating my own path. In fact, thanks to this peace of mind, I’ll be able to make the most of my time instead of spinning my wheels.

I’ll finally have the mental bandwidth to set clear, realistic goals instead of living with the constant pressure of exceeding my own unrealistic expectations.

What does the first day of October mean for you?

Not another lazy Sunday

I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a much clearer mind than usual.

During a “normal” Sunday morning, there’s a good chance I would still be in bed, avoiding the constant nagging of my phone alarm.

I would probably feel groggy from a late night of drinking with friends, unmotivated to do anything but curb a stubborn hangover.

My morning routine would be in shambles as I haphazardly figure out what to make for breakfast.

Instead, I’m almost finished with my routine, checking things off my to-do list as I make my way to freelance work that I’ve been neglecting over the past few weeks.

Today, I truly understand why I don’t always need that extra drink or just one more hour out with friends. Sure, it might feel good in the moment, but it’s almost never worth it in the long run.

It’s morning like these that remind me what it means to set yourself up for success.

I’m grateful for a Sunday morning that isn’t so lazy.

Insanity

After reviewing my old journal and reflecting on the past 30 years, I am much more aware of the things that have been holding me back.

Yesterday, I shared my takeaways and people seemed to think I was being a little too hard on myself.

The thing is, I already celebrate and share my small wins with others and in my mind, it's our failures that give us a chance to learn and grow.

This was the perfect time to pick mine apart and learn what I can in order to move forward.

The biggest red flag was the fact that I continuously wrote about the same problems but never did anything about them.

Isn't this the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

I would guess that many of us fall into this trap, repeating the same mistakes day in and day out without doing anything about them.

If I revisit my journal more frequently (at the end of every week), I should be able to nip this in the bud sooner.


Dirty thirty

It's hard to believe I'm actually 30 years old today.

For the most part, it doesn't feel any different.

However, after reading each and every entry from my old journal (that started in 2014), 30 has become a little more sobering than I thought.

Now that I have taken a high-level look at the past few years, here are a few takeaways:

• I have an apparent problem with self-control
• I don't review my thoughts nearly enough
• My actions don't always align with my words
• I tend to ignore what is right in front of me
• I haven't (successfully) identified and solidified my long-term goals
• Which is why I haven't reverse engineered them into short-term steps yet
• I make a lot of excuses
• I unfairly project onto others more than I realize
• I consistently repeat the same mistakes
• My ambition constantly gets the best of me
• I haven't fully grasped what it means to "live with intention"
• I fall in love with ideas too easily
• I shoot myself in the foot by not saying, "No" enough

Looking back, I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be mainly because I wasn't 100% sure where that was in the first.

Maybe that's the problem.

We can't really move forward without first looking back.

In the future, I will revisit my own definition of success much more often while putting in place some tangible markers along the way.


Don't be an asshole

It's no secret that people like working with nice people.

At the end of the day, business isn't B2B or B2C - it's P2P, or person to person.

Ego has no place in the workplace, regardless of how good you might be.

Imagine working with that one guy we all know. You know, the one who always has to brag or show off all of the time? He might be good at what he does, but he will get old real quick. It's pretty apparent that he doesn't know how to be vulnerable or relate to others.

That's why I try to treat my professional relationships the same way I treat those in my personal life - with respect and honesty.

After all, life is too short to work with people who are assholes.


Exploring is hard

Being complacent is easy.

Letting past actions dictate future outcomes takes little to no effort.

Do you know what's hard?

Breaking this day-to-day monotony by exploring.

Instead of going to the same coffee shop or watching the same thing on Netflix, try walking around your neighborhood or driving to a new part of town.

Thanks to societal pressure, exploring can feel like a waste of time.

I beg to differ.

After a weekend of exploring, I feel more rejuvenated than I have in a while.

What's stopping you from doing the same?

We all have distractions and responsibilities that compete for our time. As important as creating a routine is, it's just as important to know when to break it.

Make it easier on yourself by blocking out time in your weekly schedule.

After all, Netflix will be waiting when you get back.


Life is short

Life is short.

We spend too much time worrying about trivial things when, in the grand scheme of things, most of it won't even matter.

It's easy to forget this day-to-day thanks to an endless stream of distractions.

Sure, we all have to do things we don't want to do, but my guess is these things start outnumbering the moments in life that really matter.

The tough part is slowing down long enough to figure out what these moments are.

A conversation. Stealing a few minutes alone with someone you love. Becoming lost in something so deeply that time goes by without even realizing it.

Once we're able to identify these moments, we can start living intentionally by structuring each day around them.


Don't forget to press pause

I have a hard time showing gratitude.

It's not that I'm not thankful for everything I have - I just tend to forget. I'm always so entangled in the next step that I forget to stop and show gratitude for where I am and what I have.

This shouldn't be too hard considering all it takes is a few moments.

Whether you're showing gratitude towards someone else or simply reminding yourself in a journal, a few minutes can make all of the difference.

Within these few minutes, you can:

• Tell someone how much they really mean to you.
• Remind yourself of how far you've come.
• Acknowledge life's little pleasures, like coffee or you know, being alive.
• Identify a new opportunity to take during the day.

The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, we're all so focused on the fast-forward button that most of us forget to push pause.

If you ask me, this is the most underrated button there is.

Now if I could just remember where I put that damn remote in the first place...


Start with pants

Today, I put on pants.

For those of you with a traditional job, this might sound insane. Why would I brag about something so simple?

Well, today I'm also working from home.

At this point, I try to avoid this because, as many other freelancers and remote workers know, lines can easily blur.

In the beginning, setting up a home office can be the ultimate time and money saver. You don’t have to pay rent for a separate office, waste time on a morning commute, and you can even write-off part of your lease or mortgage as a tax-deductible expense.

However, the longer you work from home, the more distractions there are. You start waking up a little later, distracting yourself with Netflix a little more, and leaving the house less and less.

In my case, I worked from home for about a year and a half until I realized I felt disconnected from the outside world and found the perfect co-working center.

Today, things are a little different because, after much resistance, I put on pants.

It might not seem all that impressive, but this small win can be the first step towards a productive day.

And no, sweatpants don't count.


Survival mode

I'm doing something I never thought I would: looking for full-time employment.

As someone who has freelanced full-time since graduating, I thought I was past the point of no return. After all, creating my own schedule and working from wherever I want have both become non-negotiable perks.

Regardless, I need a little more stability.

Thanks to a series of unfortunate events, I'm in survival mode.

Because of this, I'm considering giving up complete freedom to do what's necessary.

I know this sounds dramatic, but I've always valued my time over anything else in this world.

If you stop and think, it's really the only nonrenewable resource we have.

The thing is, by potentially getting a full-time job, I might be able to be more intentional with the time I have left each day.

Instead of worrying about where my next client will come from, I can focus more on creating the kind of life I've always wanted.

This means more quality time with the people (and puppy) I care about, more time writing and sharing my thoughts, and more time investing in myself and others whom I believe in.


Stop and listen

I'm sitting in a local coffee shop across the park from where I live, surrounded by the normal weekend hustle and bustle - people chatting, silverware clanking, and the whirring of the coffee machine behind the bar.

These sounds usually bleed into the background, hidden by their commonplace obscurity, but today, I can't help but notice each and every individual noise.

Sure, it's all a little distracting, but there's also something strangely comforting.

I'm not one of those people who needs complete silence in order to work. In fact, after working out of a co-working center for over three years, I welcome the organized chaos.

It reminds me that, no matter how lonely I sometimes feel working while for myself, I don't live or work in a vacuum. These people around me are also just trying to get by.

Like me, they have their own hopes, dreams, fears, and stories.

If you stop and listen closely enough, you might even get to hear some of them.


Living with intention

Living an intentional life is hard.

We all have things that seem important (our jobs, errands, meetings), but are they really?

Will they move us closer to where we want to be? Do we even know where that is?

Since I work for myself and set my own priorities, I'm responsible for charting my own course, even when uncertainty creeps in. Whenever this happens, there is one question that packs a big punch:

Why?

When was the last time you asked yourself, "Why?"

Why are you having this meeting? Why are working 40+ hours a week? Why are you sitting here reading this?

As much as I try, I know I don't ask this question nearly enough. I often find myself neck-deep in the middle of a task without even knowing why I started it.

Whenever this happens, I do my best to stop and figure out why.

I don't always know the answer, but at least I'm one step closer to living an intentional life.


There's more to life than work

It's easy to forget, but there's so much more to life than work.

Sure, for those of us who work for ourselves, the lines of work-life balance can blur without us realizing it.

I'm always so consumed with work that I frequently forget to stop and take a look around.

Luckily, my fiancé and I just adopted a puppy named Dobby and it suddenly gave me a reason to slow down and reprioritize things a little.

Instead of trying to squeeze a few more hours of work out of the weekend, I spent time helping Dobby get used to his new home.

Even though there is always something to get done, it felt great to shift my focus back towards my personal life.

Whether it's a new puppy, a budding relationship, or an exciting hobby, try and appreciate the little things outside of work.

Don't worry, the emails, phone calls, and proposals will still be there when you're ready.