Work-Life Balance: How I Learned To Put Myself First
“We need to change the entire meeting book.”
These are pretty much the worst words you can hear when you’ve been up for 20 hours, it’s well past midnight, and the meeting in question is slated to begin at 8 a.m.
But this is not just any meeting, it’s one that took several months of planning, coordination, hand-holding, ego-stroking, and bureaucratic gymnastics to pull together.
Oh, and lots of money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid – for this meeting and its book to be right – so that our clients could get the answers they needed from the experts flown in from around the world to advise them.
We quickly assessed the situation.
All copy stores were closed and it would cost thousands of dollars to re-print these books if we used the hotel services. To stay within the budget, we had only one option: drive an hour back to the copiers at our main office and get the job done before dawn.
Did I mention it was raining? And after midnight? And that we were already sleep-deprived and running off of a constant stream of coffee and sugary snacks?
When I imagined the glamorous lifestyle of a jet-setting meeting planner, this was not what I had in mind.
While this was one of many ridiculous scenarios that transpired over the years, it was this night in particular when I knew I wouldn’t last in this profession.
Here’s why: I wanted work that didn’t completely consume my life.
And so a few years later – after complete and total burnout had taken over – I left this job and started my own business so that I could enjoy the balance and freedom I deeply craved.
As it turns out, owning your own business makes this goal exponentially more difficult.
You are committed at a whole new level to creating something viable. Something valuable. To providing a service that can change people’s lives. Why would I ever want to stop working?
It took a few more years to learn my next lesson:
I didn’t need a career change to create more balance, I needed better boundaries.
This was a tough pill to swallow.
As someone that feels most comfortable being of service, creating boundaries around how much I work was not easy…but it has been incredibly rewarding.
Over the last 5 years I’ve learned how to:
- Take Sundays off without guilt
- Work remotely while visiting family so that I can see them more often
- Put my health first – mind, body, and spirit
- Take trips without my computer (super hard)
- Have set work hours even though I work from home
- Balance client time vs. creative time within my workday
- Get amazing, restorative sleep that supercharges my creativity
- Take true breaks – walks outside – during my workday to maintain my focus
- Grow a circle of friends and relationships outside of work
- Run a few races, get certified as a spinning instructor, fall in and out of love, start horseback riding again
I needed 3 things in place to create the balance and freedom I craved:
- A motivating mindset
- Clear boundaries
- Systems that worked for my business and life
Do you have all of these pieces in place?
What’s amazing is that as soon as I committed to creating this balance by setting boundaries- reframing my mindset and putting the right systems in place – my business (and life) bloomed.
I became a better coach, friend, daughter, sister, and business owner. I became more creative, productive, decisive, and motivated.
Ultimately this journey has come down to one thing:
Learning how to put myself first.
And of course it is far from over. I have to re-learn these lessons often…it’s a practice.
But what I witness daily is that when I am consistent with my mindset, boundaries, and systems, my business and life feel aligned, in harmony, and far less stressful.
I feel more on purpose than I ever thought possible.
Now it’s your turn to share. What tips do you have to keep putting yourself first? Be sure to comment below.
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