When I unveiled my word for 2014, I mentioned that I don’t really have goals outlined for the new year, and for the most part that’s true. I don’t have anything written down or items I can track on an Excel file. It may prove to be my kryptonite, but only time will tell.
That being said, there are two over-arching things I’m focusing on to enhance my year. While this year is about daring myself, in order to do that I need to have my ducks in a row. For me, what that boils down to is feeling balanced and healthy. Coincidentally, that’s what I want to dedicate my efforts to this year as well (and they’re surprisingly inter-related).
I embraced balance last year, but the inspiration for this idea came from an article I read last week entitled “Balance or Bust: One indefatigable woman takes on a marathon research project (2,330 pages of self-help!) determined to master life’s juggling act — even if it kills her” (the article just screams Liz, doesn’t it?).
Some people consider it a work-life balance, but that’s not necessarily what I’m striving for when I say balance. I really liked and related to a comment I read from the same magazine that the work-life balance is more of an ebb and flow. There are some points in your life or year where work will be the focus, and there are also points where it won’t.
What I’m more concerned about is my life balance, so what’s happening outside of work. Am I taking enough time for me and doing the things that I want to do?
Here’s the thing: I’m a terrible people-pleaser (and by that I mean I focus on it way more than I should). I’m bad at being selfish and, in some respects, prioritizing. Part of it is that I’m what the librarian likes to call “unnecessarily accommodating.” I don’t know how to say no. In part it’s because I don’t want to miss out on potentially fun opportunities that get me out of my comfort zone, but it’s also because I hate conflict. Often it’s easier for me to just go along with what others want.
That needs to change this year. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I do think that over time I can learn to find a better balance between pleasing others and pleasing myself. It doesn’t have to be either extreme. And in some cases, it’s a matter of figuring out what it is that I even want. What do I legitimately want to do and what am I making a “discretionary burden” (the article mentioned that phrase and I love it!). There was one paragraph in particular from the article that really made me chuckle because I’m so guilty of it:
What really matters in this life? Why get agitated over things that aren’t ultimately significant. Swenson quotes an author and speaker named Pat Katz ranting about how overwhelmed she is: “I heard myself say, ‘And I still HAVE TO carve the pumpkin before I can go to bed,'” she says. “Wise offspring played back my very own words. ‘You HAVE TO carve the pumpkin?'” Don’t we all do that? Get ourselves worked up over something inconsequential that we simply must tackle?
That’s exactly what I do. And that’s what I’m hoping to change. I can’t tell you how many times this break (and it was a break, mind you) my sisters would look at me and just say, “You exhaust me.” I exhaust myself. I don’t have the balance yet to know how to slow down, to realize that I don’t HAVE TO do everything. I get to pick and choose what’s important to me and how I fill my time.
Ultimately my hope is to shift my mindset so that I can start focusing on my priorities. I need to minimize the non-essentials (like the 5-7 goals I took on each month…) to focus on the bigger picture. More importantly, though, I probably need to learn to cut myself some slack. It’s not the end of the world if my to-do list doesn’t completed or I say no to a friend. Somehow I’ve tricked myself into thinking it is.