It’s been a while since I last wrote anything for the blog or newsletter. In August, we went into lockdown and home schooling here in Canberra. I had already decided that if that were to happen, home schooling was going to take the priority. I had discovered, like many other parents, that I could home school and work from home. But I couldn’t do both as well as I would like, and I didn’t like the price that came with it. (You know, feelings of inadequacy, guilt at not being present when I felt I should, tiredness – exhaustion depending on what was going on).
Now that the end of home schooling (for now, anyway) is in sight with just one more week to go, I’m thinking more about what I can offer for clients and those of you who read the blog. I think the thing that I need (and therefore what others in the same boat might need) is to have bit of a re-set and a re-gather, so I’d like to share how I’m setting myself up for that.
First, self-care. Yes, absolutely this is going to include a massage which is already booked. This is something that I find essential for my physical health, given how much I work out. But it’s also a great thing for my mental health as it forces me to literally stop and pay attention to my body. But self-care also includes less fun things like getting a crown sorted, re-thinking my nutritional requirements, consciously planning what my back-to-school workout and daily chore routine is (rather than slipping into one that is less beneficial) and re-energising social circles. I know that there are parts of my wellbeing that I find easy to prioritise (sleep, working out) and others that I need to be more conscious of (socialisation, passive downtime).
Next, re-configuring priorities. Priorities shift and change in relation to external circumstances as well as internal drivers. That’s healthy and usual. What we’re generally not so good at recognising is that we unconsciously shift our priorities so that we end up living in a way that isn’t congruent with what we profess our priorities to be. This is why you can end up slumped in front of the tv for four hours a night, mindless eating junk food and not going to the gym, even though you say you want to prioritise fitness. Or why you end up working late and missing family time, even though you’ve said that you want to be there for your family more.
This is precisely why I love the phrase work-life balance. And I always get people disagreeing when I use it. I almost always get someone saying that they dislike the phrase because it implies work to maintain. My view is that yes it requires work. It’s why so many people have a poor work-life balance! Because it takes sustained work and focus to maintain a good balance between shifting priorities (and you could replace either word with any aspect of life and that still holds true). Without consistently committing to priorities and working out what is going to give, you won’t have a good balance.
Did I just say what is going to give? Why yes, I did. Because if it was as simple as just adding something to your life, oh my goodness, how easy would that be? The problem is that we need to accept that for a good (for us) balance to exist, we are invariably going to have to let some things go. That might be time in front of the tv (which can be a great passive downtime, I’m not knocking it) or extra time at work (which might have a knock-on impact on your promotion, facetime with the boss, networking, etc) or training for an endurance athletic event. It is just foolish to pretend that we can do it all, all the time. You have so much time and energy to give, and that is it, my friend. Therefore, we must budget it which means you are not going to be able to do everything you would like. Which is why you need to understand your priorities, so you know exactly what it is you want to give up. Doing this consistently and frequently means you don’t end up giving up the very things you really want just for things that are half-way down your list.
If this is something you struggle with, or you’ve never thought of, my suggestion is to set aside an hour to really think about your priorities for the next couple of months. How do you really want to spend your time and why? What kind of boundaries do you need to create to sustain this? What are the most likely obstacles to achieving this? How can you overcome these? What routines and structures can you create to support putting your first priority first, second second, etc?
Lastly, build in time for the unexpected. It’s so tempting to fall into the trap of thinking just because things have been unexpected for the last little while, that everything will go to plan now. But it might not. So how can you quicky rebuild resilience into your life? What do you need most; physical, mental, emotional, social, fiscal resilience? Or something else? What’s the one thing that could derail you really quickly?
Over the next couple of months, I’ll be talking about end of year reviews, goal setting, preparing for the Christmas holidays and all things related. If there’s a particular topic that would be beneficial to you let me know.
I have a new planner that just been released on Amazon which will help with your planning for next year. It would also make a great gift, so please do check it out!