The need to maintain balance in our lives is a constant.
The first time I became aware of the struggle between doing and being was when I was in college. I would call home and talk to my mom who, before handing the phone to my dad would say, “Now, have some fun and don’t work too hard.” Then my dad, the Commander, would get on the phone and before hanging up he would say, “now work hard and don’t let your grades slip.” I’d get off the phone and just shake my head. But, even then I knew that both things were true.
Sometimes, we need off time to let ideas percolate and make sure we are going in the right direction. Then, there are those other times that we need to keep on the path to our goals, since if we slack on taking necessary action, we are depriving not only ourselves but others of the benefit of our work.
People think I am very driven, but I know myself pretty well and I have two speeds, on and off. And what looks like drive is mostly the result of my employing a couple of helpful maneuvers that help me get things done.
- First, take the time to figure out what you are interested in and keep learning about it. Give yourself ways to practice it or volunteer for things that will challenge you to get better at it, even if you don’t know where it will lead. Do it because you are following your passion. I get bored easily so keeping myself challenged is important.
- Find ways to build in support and accountability for your own goals which will keep you on track and engaged. I tend to put my work for others as a higher priority than work on my longer term goals which have fuzzier deadlines. So, to get around that I will plan a meeting, a webinar or a speaking engagement that will have me do the research that I need to do to get things done.
- Confront the mundane things that need to get done. I will put off paying bills and do just about anything else that is more pressing or more interesting, so I have a bookkeeper come in every Wednesday morning so I get my paperwork done each week. Otherwise, I’d keep putting it off one day at a time and things would be overdue.
- Build in social accountability. My commitment to getting the Just a Digital Minute out each Wednesday has me write at least two blog posts per week. Before I did that, my blogging schedule was ‘when I felt like it’ or when I had time, which was not very often. Having a weekly Newsletter to be accountable to increased my productivity and allows me to feel better when I do take time for myself because these things are done or will get done. It is also a way to have fun. And fun is something that we should definitely add in to our work.
- Commit each week to making progress on three main things on your list. Doing this is helpful in keeping your head above water so that you feel like you can relax in the evenings and at the end of the week. Does this mean those are the only things you do? No. But if there are things that feel like they are hanging over your head, they are sucking at your sense of well-being, so you might as well get them out of the way so you can enjoy yourself.
- Schedule in vacations or other fun times and experiences. This is so important as all work can be stressful and not very fun. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen.