Hi. My name is Michelle. And I’m a recovering workaholic. I love to stay busy and to accomplish things, and incidentally, I over-commit, so I get overwhelmed because life throws me lemons…and I never learned how to juggle….maybe I should learn to juggle…adding it to my to-do list…
How is that for a visual?
Balance is Hard to Achieve
I went from working full-time plus starting my own network marketing franchise with a baby who was about to turn one year old to working part-time with a one and a half year old. Even though I worked fewer hours in a week, I still struggled with time management.
In network marketing, we work part time but never “sometimes”. It becomes a part of our lifestyle and that is the best part of it. It fits around our lives! I love love love the flexibility. So how did it get out of control for me?
For me, I realized, it happened because I never ditched my old mentality – the busier I was, the more successful I felt I would become. I come from a hospitality background, a career of exceeding expectations which has you working odd hours and oftentimes “on call”. And, while I no longer needed to work evenings and weekends, my brain was wired to say “yes” to every evening and weekend commitment which seemed to have some benefit…or if it helped someone else out…or if they wanted me there…because it’s what I used to do.
I fell back into the trap because I have made positive physical changes to my career and life but I never changed my mentality. So then came my wake-up call…
Listen To Your Gut
It took some words from a mentor who said, listen to your gut. I told him, “I don’t mind doing one evening event a week – in fact, I think it has a benefit. But two seems like too much.” He said, “If your gut is telling you that you are doing too much, then you are. You are your own boss, you don’t report to anyone.” It was like a glass of ice water on my face! He spoke the truth, and it was SO simple. I had no need to commit to everything I was committing to – my business did not rely on it. And in that instant, I vowed to get back to the balance I had been wanting for so long – the balance I had finally achieved but somehow lost.
Here is how I did it – and how you can too:
- I took a step back. I took a moment of pause to gain awareness and evaluate so I could identify and celebrate what was working. A wise person once told me that “gratitude offers great perspective,” and she was so spot on. I had so much to be grateful for, so many things that were going right and were working effectively for me. And when you realize what is working, you start to realize what you can say “no” to and open space in your calendar which allows you to breathe again.
- I took charge of my mind. The way we think gives us power, in good ways and bad ways. And while we can’t control what happens to us (those lemons life throws at us), we can control how we respond. It’s not always easy (trust me on that one – I have felt like a victim of circumstance at times!). But personal development helps. I filled my brain with positive words and it helped me say “yes” to the right things. I ascertained my goals (and reset and re-prioritized as necessary).
- I sat down with a pencil and a calendar and carved out a schedule. Someone once said, “Don’t start your week until you have planned it.” I started with the things I absolutely had to do, including ensuring I had the time I wanted to spend with my daughter and family on the calendar. Between my priorities and my goals, I carved out a schedule that worked for me.
- I made the decision to stick with it. I realized, I would have to say “no” to certain things if the space in my calendar was not available, and I reminded myself that it is ok to be smart about how I spend my time. And I realized, while I strive for my goals, life will still throw me those lemons when I’m not looking. I decided I would not be be caught off-guard. Since I knew it was going to happen (didn’t know what or when or how but still), I decided not to over-pack my calendar to leave a little space for those “life happens” moments.
- I made a decision to give it my all. In my working hours, I decided to be in it to win it. It might seem silly to say, but it all starts with the decision to be successful.
- I put plan into action. I learned to understand that doing nothing would get me the same results as I had in the moment. It was time to do the things that would give me new results. Remember, you don’t have to have all of the answers to begin; you can start with the end in mind.
- I committed to discipline. It is so easy to get distracted and lose focus. Discipline is not easy but it imperative. You can build muscle memory in anything you want to do with consistent discipline. I learned to stick to my guns, so when I work, I work without losing or shifting focus to any other task, and when I play, I am present to my family.
There may be no such thing as a perfect balance, and that really is subjective anyhow. But when you feel like your calendar is controlling you rather than the other way around, you can make a conscious effort to take control of your calendar. It might be tough to say “no”, especially to people you love if you are a people-pleaser, and to the things you love to do, but if you have a goal, remind yourself why you set it and you can get yourself right back on track.
You don’t need a 12-step program. You just need to give yourself some time to breathe, regroup, re-prioritize, and recommit.
“You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don’t decide, others will decide for you.” ~ Tony Morgan