Nearly every day while tucked into my writer’s cave of a home office, I catch some article on a site about creating a more balanced lifestyle to alleviate stress and generate greater happiness. Pick up a lifestyle magazine — same thing. Let’s face it, they wouldn’t be writing about it if we all worked less and spent more time with our families and friends.
But, we don’t either because we are house poor, an economic crisis, or are just driven to collect a lot of crap in our closets and garages that we don’t really need. Whatever the reason, it is easier said than done when it comes to creating a balance. I even have written stories about it myself because someone paid me to — and while I tried to not preach, I wasn’t necessarily practicing what I was writing about either (so said the hypocritical writer).
Let me break down the main reason we all end up ignoring what we should really do, which, in case you forgot, is a formula that is one part work, one part family, one part spouse, and one part self. Well, the reality is that it is usually three parts work and the last quarter gets divvied up among the others usually in some unfair and non-fulfilling way. It happens because the day-to-day grind takes over and money becomes the prime motivator whether we want to admit it or not.
Whether it’s a cubicle job or you own your own biz, there is that subconscious motivator that whispers doubts about future work and income that has us continuing to take on more than we can chew. Our focus becomes those things that make us money rather than the things that truly make us happy.
Case in point — my blog — I have not written an entry for over a year. I didn’t bother because it was a non-priority given the fact it wasn’t directly earning me money. A quick survey of other freelance writers revealed similar cobwebs on their blogs. Like me, it was all they could do to get from one writing project to the next to meet a certain income quota for that week or month.
In actual fact, it is that blog that can often serve as a writing sample for new clients — after all, we all work on so many projects that don’t let us put our name on it so we need samples online that show we are masters — or mistresses — of the English language. Those regular blog posts could convince those potential clients or even move us up the search engine pages from page number 29 to maybe closer to those first precious pages people read.
Case in point — my health — With recent experiences in not feeling great and in dealing with loved ones whose health came last, I realized I was also doing myself a disservice. In actual fact, I had been costing myself money rather than making it by not keeping up with regular exercise and choosing to sit for hours in front of a computer. Maybe it was the article I read that said sitting for many hours each days can trim two to three years off my life (oh there goes my earning potential!). Maybe it was my neck and the penultimate dream of going to a massage therapist every day.
Whatever it was, I realized, time out, work can wait, I need to get myself moving. Voila! It has made me more mentally alert (think of a dull pencil after a run through the sharpener), which improved my writing and pleased my clients. I also wrote faster than when Jill was a dull girl from no play, which, in turn, left me more time than I had previously. And, I didn’t even have to work on my plan to add another day to the week to get it.
Case in point — my husband and my kids — Now, this is one area that has always gotten the most attention but could always use more. Sure, they often cost you money rather than make you money. But, this is a different kind of monetary experience — you are investing in something more valuable than money for the long term. By spending time with your spouse and giving them the attention they deserve, you are creating a lifetime partnership that helps you through the tough times and sweetens those magical moments of life.
By spending time with your kids — listening to them, playing with them, and getting involved in their school — you are also creating the talent of the future and making them into noble people who will treat others with kindness and integrity.
Case in point — my social life — This is been the most challenging aspect of balance for a Type-A personality like myself. While I was the incessant entertainment coordinator before kids and ‘real life,’ I let it go in recent years and dodged invites to coffees and lunches because I was worried about work, work, work. Then, I started resenting not doing anything fun. Hmm, well, that was stupid.
Time to Change
Yeah so balance schmalance. And, it’s not about change because you feel guilty. We’re all sick of these articles that say ‘just do this’ or ‘simply do that.’ But, what we should be doing is thinking why it’s time to change and why to balance in order to make life feel satisfying. Once you commit to that, then maybe you can consider following all those oh-so-helpful ‘how-to’ articles.
Now, I’m not talking about being super woman, wonder woman, or any other woman that requires a cape. Who really wants to be that person in the spandex who can do it all and look fabulous while doing it? Barf. Leave the dust, learn to say no to more commitments than are humanly possible, and make breakfast for dinner once in awhile if it means you have more time to focus on the right investments in your life that are way more valuable than the so-called almighty dollar.
What about You?
Have you been able to re-calibrate and re-apportion your life’s components into even pie pieces? If so, how? What made you do it?