I inspire people to bring more of a joyful balance to their lives. Am I still walking my talk?
My work is a big deal to me. It's fun, interesting, creative, and fulfilling. Every morning I get to decide what I want to create that day. And winter, the season I'm enjoying at the time I'm writing this, allows me plenty of time create my vision. I'm working so much that I'm wondering if I'm kicking my healthy balance ideas to the curb.
The backstory is that it took me a long while to even get to the point where I'm working diligently and passionately on my vision. First I would have to leave work that didn't fulfill me. That was surprisingly easy. Then I would have to work through the fear of not being good enough for my new work. Not easy. But working through that limiting self-belief has been fascinating.
It was quite a few years ago now that I left my career in spite of the fact I liked the paycheck and enjoyed a great work/life balance. But I still lived for the non-work-related part of my life. Over the course of my career I went from working ridiculously long hours to becoming 5:00 Sara. In my last couple of years there, I'd practically run out the door to make my 6pm spinning class at the gym.
When I resigned I already knew about what my new purposeful work would be. A little anyway. I was excited because the idea of the work seemed exciting. But all that excitement didn't cover up my fear.
My new work was most definitely going to stretch me. That part was loud and clear. Sometimes being stretched means feeling uncomfortable with trying new things. I wasn't comfortable with being seen or heard and that was an important component to my new work. That's why I was excited, on one hand, scared on the other.
For years my deepest fears were around negatively anticipating what some people might think about me talking about spiritual growth, joy and balance. What will my family members and friends think? Will I embarrass myself? Who am I to talk about this? What do I know? And these self-limiting questions repeated in my head over and over again.
At the time, it was easier to choose fear and postpone being seen and heard. I knew how to be scared but I no idea how to step into sharing my experiences.
So I did something else I was great at. I stalled myself and had lots of fun doing so. I threw myself into enjoying my free time after resigning from my corporate job. There was Zumba, my beloved spinning classes, yoga classes, workshops, Meetup groups to join, a Meetup group I formed, books to read, Thai massages, paintings to paint. Then it was getting married, selling my home, husband selling his home, and looking for another home. Moving to a new town for me. Making decisions around rehabbing the house. Laying on our den sofa for months at a time happily gazing at the trees and birds outside. I didn't allow myself to take bigger steps to create my vision.
For many years, I worked on my website and gave an occasional talk. I shared my vision with no one, except my husband. And I acted like I'd robbed a bank. What if I'm caught? What will people think? Does anyone know what I'm interested in? Have they seen my website (the scene of the crime)? What if they see it? What if someone actually reads my blog? Get on Facebook? Are you kidding me?!
So funny to me now. I spent years in this phase. Have you ever been afraid of growth? It's confusing, right?
There was no crime I committed. I was, and still am, merely following my heart.
Finally, I worked through worrying about not being good enough and worrying what others may think. But that also means I'm finally spending more time finally creating the work I love. But that's the point right? Moving forward with my vision?
Sometimes I'm tired from hours spent sitting at the computer and from focusing so hard. Should I be painting, exercising more, walking outside, napping or reading a book?
But I'm on fire these days. I replaced the worry of "what will people think?" with "I've got so much I want to do and I really need to move along here. Faster, faster!" Sometimes I end up exhausted. Hence why I'm checking in with myself.
Checking in with yourself is awesome. I promise you'll learn what's working and not working.
The first thing I ask is, am I draining my own internal resources? Those resources are inspiration, humor, creativity, intuition, and joy. And they allow me to enjoy a lovely quality of life, and to be successful at my work.
To find out if my tenacious focus is healthy or not, I just have to ask myself a few simple questions.
Am I enjoying myself?
Do I still have a sense of humor or am I taking myself and my work too seriously?
Am I feeling creative? Intuitive?
Do I want to enjoy other activities right now or do I think I should be doing them?
What do I really feel?
These questions are super helpful because I learned that today I'm fine. In fact, I'm pretty great. It's ok if my balance moves around. Balance doesn't always look the same.
What a relief that balance doesn't have to mean the scales are perfectly aligned.
If you look at the photos in this post you'll see how balance can be quirky. It's even precarious at times. Goofy. It can be weirdly wonderful as we scratch our heads and ask "How does that even work? That should not be able to balance!" And yet there is balance. All is well.
Striving for perfection around balance would stress anyone out. Your version of healthy balance and my version of healthy balance will be totally different. It's up to each of us to know when we need to make adjustments and then make them. From moment to moment. According to our personality, likes, dislikes, seasons, mindset, interests, our personal growth, and a gazillion other factors.
Balance shifts and morphs. Balance is simply about joy. To see if you're in balance ask yourself if you're enjoying yourself.
As your interests and focus shifts, so will your balance shift. It's a natural part of every day living. There will be times when sliding to more work seems more natural. And times when outdoor play makes more sense. Whatever way you choose make it about joy.
Being in balance isn't an air-brushed photo of perfection. I look like tired as hell this week but I'm happy. Being both joyful and tired at the same time doesn't mean I'm failing at balance.
It just means I may want to take short fun breaks when I'm working at the computer. For example, recording a video of me for work, after sitting four hours at my computer is a bad idea. Focusing at the computer really drains my energy. I'm learning to take lots of breaks to keep my energy in a good place.
My advice is to shift things around periodically based on how you feel. Being flexible feels way more interesting than having the exact same routine every single day.
As long as you're excited and enjoying yourself that's confirmation that your life is working just fine. You're in balance!