We all want to feel well – vital, energised, glowing, alive – you know, we want to get our sparkle on! But sometimes it is not so easy to achieve. We are busy, and so often, looking after ourselves is the last thing we focus on. But if we are…
Three ways to start creating balance
I have recently started writing a career advice column for Women’s Agenda, the online destination for professional women. It’s called Ask Megan and each Tuesday I answer a question someone has sent in (please send in questions to [email protected], I would love to answer them for you). It is week 5 and there have been questions on leadership, career management, boundaries and a lot of questions on the age old problem most of us deal with – balance. As I know this is a challenge for so many of us, I thought I would share my response here with you today. I hope for anyone feeling frazzled and fried, or feeling like there is no solution, that this gives you a little guidance on how you can truly create a balanced life, not just dream about it.
The first step in creating balance is realising that you have an issue. The second is acknowledging that you actually want to change, and then it’s about committing to make that change happen. Many people complain that they have no balance, there is no way they can create it, and everyone agrees with them to lock down that story. What they don’t realise is that it’s within their power to change if they choose. You first have to decide, and only you can do it. Now that’s not to say that it’s easy to do, which is why so many people don’t bother trying or give up, but it is possible, and it is worth it (and so are you).
Here are three areas I suggest you look at as you get started on your journey.
Create your own vision for what you want your life to look like. When was the last time you really thought about that? Many women think about their career plan, but give themselves little to no time to reflect on how their life comes together – almost like they don’t have permission to do so. You do have permission, so do this first. What things are really important to you? Where do you want and need to spend your time and energy? Getting clear on these things is a really important step. Part of this is working out what success looks like for you. We all want to achieve our own definition of success, and that is fine, but it’s not fine at any cost. In your vision, know where you draw the line. When you are really clear on what you want your life to look, your non-negotiables become easier to identify, which helps create balance.
Set and honour your boundaries. Many women struggle with boundaries. We don’t know where we should have them. We don’t want to seem pushy. And let’s be real – we don’t want to piss people off. But you need to protect what’s important. And once you are clear on what you really want, setting boundaries and keeping them in place is vital so you can focus on what really matters to you. Without them it’s just a slippery slope to the chaos you may be feeling at the moment. Work out where you need your boundaries to be and then lock them down. People will push and prod them, but stay the course. Once they realize that you’re serious, they will learn to respect them (and you).
Put your wellbeing first. You may have a violent reaction to the suggestion that you put yourself first. Many women do. It’s just not in our nature to put ourselves at the top of the list. But it needs to be. You need to be well to live a balanced life. What makes you thrive is an individual thing, so work out what your wellness toolkit looks like. Some things that work pretty universally include drinking green juice; getting your 8 hours sleep (if you have young kids in the house you get a pass on this one for now); do yoga; meditate; nurture your relationships; connect with nature; take your holidays; and restore yourself regularly. You must look after your health and vitality to be successful and you need to make you your first priority, even if you don’t feel like it.
There are other things you can look at as well, like asking for help from those around you (and actually taking it), but these three points above are a great place to start. The other thing I would say is that we need to stop apologizing for wanting to live balanced lives. You don’t need to wear your busyness like a badge of honour, and the more women (and men) who show up differently, the easier it will be for everyone to do so. Be brave enough to recognise the issue, and then make a change for the better.
If you would like more strategies on how you can create a career and life you love, you might like my book Getting Real About Having It All. You can get the first chapter for free. And if you haven’t downloaded 12 Rules for Balanced Women yet, you can get that free here.
An edited version of this content first appeared on Women’s Agenda.