As part of my quest to live lightly, I thought I’d share more posts about some of the issues I’m tackling that I feel are relevant to others besides myself. Like so many people, I find I struggle endlessly to find balance in my life, and I’m always seeking out ways to try to fit in more: more work, more fun, more time (but still stay sane). Lately, I’ve been struggling to keep up physically with all that my mind wants to do. Sometimes I drive myself crazy, as I constantly get new ideas for projects or posts that I want to tackle, and I have had to learn to reign myself in, or I end up an exhausted, frazzled mess. Learning to take one thing at a time, have realistic expectations and keep a balance between work, blogging and a social life are some of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn over the past few months especially.
The simple answer is it’s impossible to do it all, and the picture-perfect life that plays out in my head where there are 48 hours in a day and I only need 4 hours of sleep is indeed just a fantasy. Perfection is impossible; however, I believe that living the life that is perfect for you is not. It is possible to find a balance that works best for you, as long as you learn to cut yourself some slack and do a little soul-searching to figure out which areas in your life you want to prioritise.
Here are the some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt in trying to balance all aspects of my life:
1/ Get some perspective.
Whenever I feel particularly stressed, I think of the many mothers I have known and realise I have it pretty easy. A lovely woman I used to work with somehow managed to balance a full-time job whilst being a full-time mum to two boys, studying for an education degree and always taking the time to be a great wife, daughter, mother and friend. Oh, and she did all this pregnant with another child too, by the way! When I think of her, I realise there are so many women who work tirelessly and uncomplainingly, and I’m lucky to have only myself and my own dreams to worry about at the moment. I have a lot more free time than many people, so I try to remember to fully appreciate that and not complain about being too busy all the time.
2/ Have fun.
All work and no play makes Jill a bit of a bore. Whenever I start feeling particularly stressed out, or feel I should be accomplishing more than I am, I take some time out and focus on adding more fun into my life. I stop worrying endlessly about my to-do list and goals and make sure that I take the time to do things I enjoy: like reading a book, meeting a friend for dinner or listening to music. I make sure I’m exercising, eating healthily and taking time to take care of my skin properly. These activities always put me in a much more positive state – both mentally and physically – which in turn allows me to accomplish more, as I’m not wasting energy needlessly worrying or listening to those voices of self-doubt in my head. I firmly believe there’s a direct correlation between success and your state of mind, so the next time you feel something isn’t going well, try just stepping away for a bit and focusing on things that make you happy.
3/ Pay attention to what DOESN’T bring you joy (and eliminate it).
Write a list of the activities and people that you find the most draining. When it comes to finding balance, it’s really important to realise that your time is limited, and you need to be mindful about how you’re spending that time. Don’t waste precious hours on people who bring you down; instead invest your energy into getting together with friends who appreciate you and leave you feeling happier and more energised. If there’s a particular activity you hate, is there some way not to do it, or to make it more enjoyable? I, for instance, loathe grocery shopping, and it was a huge improvement when I started meal-planning on Saturday mornings, bookmarking recipes I wanted to use in my cookbooks and placing an order online for my groceries to be delivered the next day. I now know exactly what I’m cooking each week, and I don’t have to constantly grocery shop, which makes me a lot happier and frees up valuable time in the evenings.
4/ Seek out moments of quiet.
I’m definitely an introvert, so it’s crucial for me to spend time alone, as this is the only way I can truly tap into the creative well within me. I also get cranky and suffer a lot more from overwhelm if I don’t have a moment in my day when I can have some quiet, reflective peace. My favourite ways to seek moments of quiet are to: meditate, journal, cross-stitch, light candles & make some ginger tea or cook a meal.
5/ Do what you can with what you have. Start now.
I honestly believe everyone should have some kind of side hustle or project alongside their day-job. Even if you love your work, pursuing another passion can be incredibly life-expanding and creatively fulfilling. People often refuse to start something, however, unless they think they can do it perfectly, or will be guaranteed success. This attitude really saddens me, as the only way you are definitely going to fail is by not even starting.
I once read an article with Rachel Khoo where she talked about realising she didn’t have the resources or funds to start a restaurant whilst living in Paris. So what did she do? Did she give up on her dream to work in the food industry? Did she feel embittered towards people who were lucky enough to have that kind of money behind them? No. She started a supper club in the evenings serving only 2 people at a time in her tiny flat in Paris. She thought hard about what she had, what she could do with it, and she went ahead and did it. Would it have been easier to be able to set up a cafe, or to have a flat big enough to seat more people at once? Most probably yes. Would she have ended up being as successful if she’d never had to get creative, or realise her dream was worth pursuing, even if she couldn’t live the ‘perfect’ version of it at the time? Somehow I doubt it. In order to live a happy, balanced life, it’s essential to give up on perfection.
6/ Keep a gratitude journal or some kind of record of what you’ve accomplished each day.
This simple technique has helped me so very much. You’ve probably gathered by now that I tend to err on the overly self-critical, glass-half-empty side when it comes to judging what I’ve managed to accomplish in a day. I used to often end a day feeling a little disappointed with myself and that I hadn’t ticked off as many tasks as I’d wished. Starting my 5 Minute Journal really helped to change my attitude: now when I write down 3 amazing things that happened during the day every night, I realise how much I have managed to accomplish and feel genuinely grateful for the (often many) lovely things that happened. It’s a great way to end the day, as it always boosts my mood and puts me in a positive, productive mindset for the following day.
Can finding balance be a struggle for you too? What are your top tips?