A sneak peek from my new book 'Work-Life Balance Survival Guide'
An excerpt from "Work-Life Balance Survival Guide: How to Find Your Flow State and Create a Life of Success"
I’ve had to learn the hard way just how important work-life balance is. Correction: I’ve had to learn the hard way what work-life balance is. I don’t remember growing up and seeing work-life balance being modelled much in my home. I certainly don’t remember hearing of work-life balance or self-care being displayed in my parents’ homes either! My parents were lovingly present, and they weren’t workaholics, but my memories of them practicing regular self-care and making enough time for rest are quite rare. I could take the ‘easy’ way out and blame my workaholic tendencies on my parents, but to be honest, I am quite sure it’s also in my nature. I was never good at resting and tuning into my body and it caught up with me in my twenties. Unfortunately, I had quite a few experiences with burnout, especially in the first few years of starting my business. Eventually, and unknowingly, I found my life coach who has drilled into me the importance of rest and being more compassionate towards myself. I say ‘unknowingly’, because the story behind how I ended up seeing a life coach makes me think that the universe decided to play a little game on me and trick me into getting some help. I don’t think I would have otherwise looked for a coach, at least not in my twenties. Four years ago, I was meant to take part in a business development program for digital content creators. Unfortunately, the program didn’t end up going ahead but as a consolation, they offered me six sessions with a coach. I thought I was going to be spending those six sessions strategizing and carving out a detailed plan to take my business to the next level, but those six online sessions over Zoom ended up being far more beneficial to my business and my wellbeing. We talked about my goals, values, and plans for my career, but we also delved deeper into other things like self-confidence, self-care, and burnout. Creator burnout is a huge problem, and something that all other digital content creators I have spoken to have admitted they grapple with too. I think this is because in addition to the demands of running our own business and feeling as though our personal and work life are all too closely intertwined, we find ourselves in an industry that never sleeps and where we feel as though we could always be doing more. There’s always something we could be doing (vlogging, posting, going live, the list goes on) and we fear that taking a break could see the collapse of our careers. We all too often find ourselves at the mercy of algorithms and feel the need to keep up, and this added stress sometimes stifles our creativity even more. Sometimes I still hear my inner critic telling me that I am not doing enough. In those moments, I try and take a step back to acknowledge everything that I am doing and remind myself that I am doing the best that I can. I want to be creating from a place of inspiration and not from a place of self-comparison. This is also why I try not to pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing, otherwise it can get quite distracting and make me forget that while someone might be livestreaming and posting videos weekly, they aren’t also writing a book, or juggling the same projects as I am. I think we all need to find the right balance and do what feels right for us. We each have a different stamina and we each recharge our energetic batteries in our own way.
There’s a saying my mum and I use when it comes to the importance of honoring our own needs and taking care of ourselves. I believe this saying came from my late grandfather, and when translated into English, it is, ‘If I am not here for myself, who is here for me?’ It signifies the importance of being there for ourselves and that we cannot expect others to completely take care of us. That’s not to discount the support we receive from family and friends or that if ever we need, there will always be someone there for us to turn to. It’s simply to remind us that we need to take care of ourselves first. We must be there for ourselves. We must put ourselves and our wellbeing at the top of our priorities. Besides, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you expect to be able to care for others?
“The first wealth is health.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We live in a society that glorifies being busy. It sadly makes me question whether we value wealth, over health? I mean, we value doing, over being. Talking, over listening. Working, over resting. Striving, over non-doing. The rest x productivity relationship isn’t acknowledged, so many of us experience ‘rest resistance’, whereby we feel guilty for stopping because we are concerned that we will be seen as ‘lazy’. No one has given us permission to slow down in this fast-paced environment, so it’s hard to grant ourselves that permission since we don’t see the true value in rest. Know this: You do not need to earn rest. It is there for you to claim. I wish rest was favored equally to output, especially since you cannot have one without the other. Doing and creating requires you to make time for rest. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is rest. The simplest example of this would be when you go to sleep each night to recharge for the following day. Take a page out of Mother Nature too. Nothing in nature blooms all year round. There is one piece of advice that I’ve found most comforting when faced with this inner conflict of needing to rest but wanting to work. When I first heard my coach say this to me approximately 100 times ago, it felt like it silenced my inner critic in that moment, and I came home to myself. This advice is something I remind myself of weekly and often share it in my work. These powerful words have changed the way I approach my life and the expectations I place on myself. These powerful and healing words are:
‘You are a human being, not a human doing.’
Simple, yet profound. I think it deserves a line to itself. A lot of people spend a large part of their life in an over-adrenalized state, feeling wired and tired. Not only is slowing down not encouraged enough in the work force and certainly not in schools, slowing down and stopping can also be particularly confronting because it requires us to stop running and to feel into our bodies. It requires us to face life honestly and show up for ourselves, not for others. I remember when I was twenty-four and went to see a new psychologist after experiencing a traumatic incident. My first session was quite general, and we spoke a little bit about my work, childhood, and moments when I’d felt heightened anxiety. While we were talking, she said to me, ‘It sounds like you have a pretty strong Task Master.’ She explained that we are made up of different parts that must come together to help us navigate life and one of the parts that makes up who we are is our Protector, which can take on the form of a Task Master. This is the part of us that tells us to sit down and work. To get it done. To achieve and do. When my body needs rest, my Task Master tells me I should do a little more. My Task Master had been strengthened by all the praise I had received whenever I would achieve, and by seeing how much society valued ‘doing.’ Up until my mid-late twenties, my self-worth was very much tied to my achievements, so when I wasn’t achieving, I felt less worthy. This is something I’ve had to work through, to get to a place where I can give myself permission to rest and honor my needs without feeling guilty. It’s so important, because it means I now prioritise my wellbeing over anything else, that I am more in tune with my body’s needs, and that I can build in more time for rest the moment I need it, rather than getting to the point of burnout which is when my body makes me rest.
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