Regaining Balance

Life is a balancing act.

I am reminded this every couple of months when I am on the brink of a breakdown due to social, professional, or personal pressures I put on myself.  And here we are again.

In college it was my responsibility to balance my academic, athletic, and social obligations.  Often, I would reach a point where I was overwhelmed and needed to put something the back burner in order to get something else done.  After graduating, my responsibilities shifted slightly, but the need to maintain balance has stayed the same.

It is not rare for me to bite off more than I can chew (truly a figurative and literal statement for me).  I am by nature a people-pleaser.  A quality I find to be a duel-edged sword.  What suffers when I take on and take on and take on is more often than not myself.  I become exhausted and stressed striving to make others happy, or honor my commitments, or meet a deadline until it gets to be too much.

My mom always told me, “You can do everything you want.  You just can’t do everything you want at the same time.”

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn.  Because I want to do it all I think I can do it all, and I think I can do it well… and that’s just not realistic.  If work and my social life are going to be my priorities, my personal responsibility to manage my stress, watch what I eat, and get enough sleep will suffer.  Likewise, if my social life and personal responsibility take my focus, the amount of time I spend at work and the quality of my work will get less attention.  Without prioritizing my obligations I become overwhelmed with all that’s on my plate and fall victim to distraction rather than making dents anywhere.  That’s where I found myself this week.

I am trying to juggle my ever growing To Do List for an upcoming event at work, while looking ahead and planning out a career and location change, while keeping and making plans to see friends and travel on weekends, but also save money and budget, and also tone up and hit the gym and eat right and when do I have time to sleep?!  I could argue that everything on my list is the most important.  So how can I focus on one long enough to cross anything off?

When my head gets so cluttered with everything that I have to do and I start responding to the anxiety by doing nothing.  At least for a day or two.  Or in this case… four.  But now it’s time to regain some focus and get back to it.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

So I’m taking my first bite in the office.  I have to bring my focus to the workplace for the next two weeks.  I owe my attention to this event, to my colleagues, and to myself.  My personal life can take the front seat the following week and my social life and relationships can for my friend’s upcoming wedding.

Slowly, one day at a time, I will readjust the balance of all three.

Do you find yourself having similar challenges meeting your obligations?  How do you sort it out?