Last month I began writing about what I learned about balance during my first year as an entrepreneur. The thing is, just as I began to write this piece to share my lessons learned, I learned something else.
I wrote over 800 words about the challenges I encountered while learning to balance professional responsibility, home management, and emotional health. Then for some reason, I stopped writing. Not just the draft I had been working on. But I stopped writing anything at all. I stopped making time for it.
I was busy balancing several professional projects, establishing new contracts, preparing presentations, and wrapping up the last art class of the year. I tried to stay on top of household chores and I even took time to cook with my boys and enjoy simple moments in life. Sounds like balance to me. It feels like quite a sense of relief.
For years, I felt like I was juggling umpteen different tasks, spending my waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours spinning plates. I lived in fear that these plates will come crashing down as we walk the tight rope.What an exhausting feeling!!
Sounds like a circus act. But really, does life have to be a circus act?
Sure, we all struggle to balance the housework as kids, pets, and mishaps. We struggle to find time to have fun without neglecting our workload. We try to hard to get those bills paid, holiday gifts bought, and credit card balances down.
Sure, we live in a world of excess. But we don’t have to do it all.
I struggled with balance long before I was an entrepreneur. I think back 12 years ago, to when I was taking classes in community college. I took classes 4 days a week. I had three jobs, which I worked 6 days a week. Remember, thought there was only 7 days in the week.
It made no sense. I never had time to breathe.
The closest thing to “escape” I had was my homework. As I wrote papers, I found a bit of peace. I wrote about culture, economics, society, food, history, science, nature, and philosophy. I found a place where I liked to reside.
No wonder I went on to excel in academics. No wonder I was crazy enough to write my thesis while on bed rest with my second pregnancy.
I did good to get stuff done. But I failed miserably at balancing my life. In time it caught up with me. Exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue. Complete meltdown. Profound insight. Whatever you want to call it. I clearly had something to learn about living in balance.
And so now, after a year of being an entrepreneur, having been involved in more than twenty different projects, having addressed some of my core emotional issues and unpacked a load of baggage, having decided to home school my first grader, I think I have learned something.
We have to stop finding relying on distraction as a driving force in making decisions.
We don’t want to put away the laundry. So we pretend like its not there. We find a distraction. Preferably a more important distraction. “I really needed to clean my home office.” When we do this, we try to manipulate reality. It’s different than procrastinating, because for a moment we believe that other task is gone. You know that one task you dread and try to forget about. Maybe it is a grant report, a conversation, or shoveling the snow. It’s fine and dandy to put things off and procrastinate.
But when we use one thing to forget about another, we are actually abusing the preferred task. Think about it.
Does your office deserve abuse? Or that creative endeavor? Or that chocolate cake you want to bake?
No. They don’t. They deserve your attention. They deserve the respect of your choice. It’s time to make that choice be part of our conscious decisions.
We have to realize that it is up to us to manage our own time.
When we let ourselves be too busy, we are doing something wrong in our lives. We negate the power of personal choice.
I’ve always loved the perspective that when we say, “I don’t have time” we are really saying “I don’t have time for that.” Essentially, we are choosing not to give a task our time. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as others who may be counting on us are not neglected.
Today, I am choosing not to give certain projects my time, because I trust the judgement used to make my priorities. I know that I will tend to them fairly when their time comes. But for now, they shouldn’t get in the way of today. The projects I choose to give attention today deserve that attention. It is my choice to use my time.
We have to let some things go.
We hear a lot about sustainability these days. You know, the idea that we should be able to continue operating in the way we currently are, without detrimental effects in the future. Are you able to continue functioning the way that we are right now, without facing collapse? If so, then it may be time to make some changes. It may be time to step off the tightrope, set down a plate or two, or even question our role in the circus all together.
We have to make time for ourselves a priority.
Let me say it again. We have to make time for ourselves a priority. We all have the thing we love to do in life. It helps us be our best. It speaks to our soul. For me it writing and drawing. In the past month, I haven’t taken time to even make a journal entry. Taking the time to draw or paint for myself is even harder. It is too easy to put these activities last on our list. Not anymore. It is time to give our passions more value than that.
What is your passion? Does it deserve more priority than what you give it?