As every entrepreneur, mother, or human being knows- sometimes shit hits the fan.
Sometimes you get so busy that by the time you stop to check in with yourself, you realize the time for preemptive self-care has already passed and you’re in the danger zone. That point where you need an electronic power-down, a beach, and/or a beverage served in a coconut.
At that point, the concept of balance seems like an unattainable dream.
For years, I vacillated between the two extremes: periods of intense busyness followed by a sudden crash. It felt like a hangover and was about as enjoyable as one. When I started my business and decided to pursue another degree, I knew I had no choice but to master the concept of balance.
So today, I’m sharing my formula for finding balance. The tools I use to stay productive and maintain my sanity:
1. I only schedule 1/3 of my time.
At first glance, this may seem impossible. I refer to “schedule” as commitments I’ve made to others. This includes client time, meetings, or time with friends. Anything where I’m accountable and need to physically show up. Much of my work is done below the surface. I find that I can’t truly serve or produce my best work if I’m filling my time with false-notions of what a workday “should” look like. The truth is that planning, writing, and listening to my own voice are more fruitful than clocking in hours in front of my laptop.
2. I define success on my own terms.
Like many New Yorkers, I thought:
- busyness = success
- hustling = success
- working hard = success
Because of that, I’d often find myself saying “yes” to opportunities that weren’t a good fit. I’d take on too much, then blame myself when I inevitably crashed. After a few cycles of this, I began wondering why I kept choosing to self-sabotage. I stripped away all expectations I had placed on myself based on false notions of success. It was then that I found a new freedom to create what I truly wanted. Only then was I able to accept myself and create real success.
3. I dared to be different.
In any career where you create your own path, it’s pretty easy to get intimidated. As a highly sensitive person, this was a real struggle for me. I looked to others in my field and internalized the idea that their ways must be the right ways. Needless to say, that idea held me back from creating what I wanted, being happy, and tapping into my ability to serve. The writer Thomas Moore once said "The need to be normal is the predominant anxiety disorder in modern life." So, I’ve given up on trying to be normal at all. Aspiring to something greater is scary. Fear floods in. But that openness allowed me to grow. The key to embracing your full potential is letting go of your limiting beliefs.
4. I ask for help.
No one has all of the answers all of the time. So why keep trying? The desire to seem like I had everything figured out is exactly what kept me from figuring anything out. I created a support system of people who inspire, motivate, and challenge me. No, it’s not always my family. Yes, some of them are paid professionals. Asking for help is an act of bravery, humility, and strength.
5. I give & receive.
There is more than enough to go around, yet most of us focus solely on giving OR receiving. The key to balance is flowing between the two. When I’d only give, I felt drained, resentful, and in lack. When I’d only take, I felt unfulfilled and didn’t enjoy what I already had. True balance comes from fearlessly giving as you’re guided and then receiving with gratitude.
6. I work for it.
In the past, as soon as I’d start to feel energized, happy, and successful, I’d get a little lazy and tell myself, "I'm feeling great! I guess I can stop eating well/exercising/meditating." And then things fell apart and the cycle would begin again. I now actively maintain the self-care practices that keep me whole and happy. For me, 8 hours of sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. When people ask me how I got to be so happy, I say the same thing every time, "I work for it. Every. Single. Day." It's a conscious choice.
Productivity doesn’t have to come at the cost of your sanity. Defining success on your own terms allows you to ignore the standard one-size-fits all approach and live from a place of truth and knowing. It allows you to embrace your genius instead of hiding from it. Choosing how to spend your time isn’t easy, there are always challenges along the way. But each moment I spend wavering from one extreme to another is another moment I neglect to use my personal power. And ultimately, isn’t that what productivity and success are all about?