Are you trying to find balance in your life?

Are you trying to find balance in your life?

How to find "balance" in your life and be positive! 

I wasn’t planning to write about this topic this week but sometime the universe brings me idea that I feel like there is a reason for and this is one of them. Three separate times this week, three different people, have ask or said to me “how do you stay so positive and keep a balance with work and life?”

Before I unpack that question, I wanted to give some background on me and some context to that question. In my “day job” I am an executive at a large organization, I have a very large department that I lead with hundreds of staff members. I also have to work with a lot of self-righteous individuals. My entire career I have built and developed departments which drive change, and if you know anything about humans…. We don’t like change. With that being said for lack of a better term I get “beat up” frequently at work and have to defend my department, staff, or process regularly. With all that being said, I truly enjoy my job, it gives me what I need in a job, it challenges me, it gives me stress, it allows me to grow, it allows me to lead people and help them grow.

So, when I was asked how do I stay positive and keep a balance, my first reaction was to laugh a little. “Me?… Wait you are talking about me?” But by the time the third person asked me, I really started thinking about all the work I have done over the years to get to where I am today, and they were truly asking for an answer to help them improve their life. Which in return made me think if they are searching for answers, I am sure others are too.

First off, no, I was not born positive, in fact if you asked people, I worked with a decade ago they would be shocked if you said “Anne is so positive and has a work life balance” because I would have called myself a Negative Nancy and I had no balance, work always came first so I could “prove” myself to my boss, my company, my staff. I actually remember a day about 6-7 years ago, I got out of my car at work and I said, “I am so tired of always being exhausted, I can’t give any part of my life 100% of me, is this just part of life?” I was overweight yet working out regularly and barely eating because there was just no “time” to stop and eat.  I was not taking care of myself at all. Even the time I was with my kids I was checking emails or worrying about meetings, etc.

At that point I knew it was time for change and to start focusing on what I needed to actually enjoy my life, my work, and my family. I started with “what do I want my life to look like?” And I knew I wanted to physically feel good and what I mean by that is I wanted to have energy, feel confident in my body, and not have anxiety. I wanted to be a great mom and present when I was with my family. I wanted to be a positive person that looked for the good in people and situations. And I wanted to continue to grow as a person and in my career.

I thought I would share 6 things I have done personally to change how I live my life in a more positive balanced way.

I realized there is no such thing as balance. I made the decision that when I am at work I will give 100% of my attention to work and when I am not at work, I give 100% of my attention to whatever I am doing. I don’t check my email on weekends or before bed like I used to. I found I would read an email before bed and then I couldn’t sleep because I would be thinking, worry and stress about it. This also happened on the weekends, I would “just check” my email and then I would find myself having anxiety about a meeting coming up or a question I need to find answers to, then I was working more than not working. It was stealing my family time. I no longer do that because my family deserves the best me too. I also don’t bring non-work-related things to work because that time is for work not for personal stuff. I have dedicated time to get what needs to be done, done. This made me a better employee, leader, and mother. I no longer take out my bad day at work on my kids when I get home because I leave that at work. I don’t believe there is a true “balance” for me it’s more about being aware of where my priorities need to be at the present moment.

I started Meditating. Now if you had told me that mindfulness and meditation could really help me be more positive, help with anxiety, and teach me how to be present, a few years ago I would have said “you are crazy.” But it has truly changed how I look at the world. I meditate every day, sometimes it’s only for 5 mins, sometimes it’s in the morning and sometimes it’s at night. When I know I have a tough meeting coming up I make sure that morning I meditation to make sure my mindset is right. It has taught me how to be present which carries over to all aspects of my life. When my kids talk to me, I want to listen not be on my phone half listening. When someone is being negative or yelling at me, I can now see their reaction to a situation is not my reaction and that I have control over how I respond and if I let it affect me.

I have made self-care a priority. When I say self-care, I am not talking about bubble baths or getting pedicure though I do love both of those things. What I mean is, I started taking care of myself and I became a priority. I want to have energy, I love working out, I love feeling good. I want to live a long healthy life. I get up early so I have “me” time every day (more on this in next week’s newsletter) but one of the first things I do is workout. Every single day I move my body. Working out is a natural stress reliever, it also helps you sleep better, it helps you think better, it reduces chances of so many diseases, it strengthens bones and muscles, and so much more. So, when I say I make myself a priority, no matter what we have going on that day, soccer tournaments, not feeling well, vacation, etc. I still always get a workout in. I also know myself and I carry my stress in my traps and shoulder so for the last 3 years, I get monthly upper body massage to reduce that stress in my body.

I am very particular about what foods I eat 95% of the time. I have always been a “watch what you eat” type of person. But as I look back, I never gave my body what it needed. I would eat healthy all eat and junk on weekends, or not eat all day because I was “too busy” to eat, I would cut out all “carbs” because they aren’t good for me, I would choose to eat unhealthy food because “I deserve it” or “it’s a special occasion” . Then I really got serious about what my body needed if I wanted to truly feel good and became consistent about it. Food can affect so many things that some people don’t realize, it can change your mood, make you bloated, make you sick, sluggish, affect your sleep positively or negatively, it can give you energy, fight and reduce diseases, help your cognitive thinking, improves your immune system and so much more. I personally don’t like counting calories or reading labels, so I make it easy, I eat whole food 95% (maybe even 99%) of the time. What I mean by that is, I eat protein (meat, chicken, and fish), fruits, veggies, and nuts most of the time. I also intermittent fast (I have done a lot of research on how your body is able to repair itself when you fast, if you are interested in it do some research.) so I eat from noon to 8pm but I stick to those foods and eat as much as I want to and that varies depending on my workouts that day and what my body needs. I also really enjoy not eating breakfast it frees up time in the morning.  I truly believe your body will tell you what it needs. Some days I eat more than my husband other days I don’t. The difference now is I am eating real food that benefits my body not processed foods that take my energy.

I have drawn boundaries. I am an introvert, I know some people don’t believe that, but I am and I get my energy from alone time. Being social is fun but it is exhausting for me. For years I over commit myself, I said yes to everything, even if I really didn’t want to do it. I was a people pleaser. What ended up happening is I was exhausted all the time making sure I was doing what everyone else wanted and ignoring my own needs and wants. Then I felt like I was letting everyone down because no part of my life got 100% of me. And then I was listening to a podcast, and they said, “If you don’t take control of your time and your life, someone else will.” WOW did that hit my soul. I was not controlling anything about my time, at work I allowed meetings on my calendar whenever someone put them even if that meant missing something with my kids. I said yes to multiple things in the same day and rushed around to get to all of them. Then I decided, my time is my time. I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I never did what I wanted to do. So now it’s almost a joke with my friends because if they ask me to do something they very well know that I may say no. And that no doesn’t mean I have other plans; it just means no I don’t want to. I know longer feel the need to explain to people why I am not going to do something I don’t want to do. Sometimes I just want me time or time with just my family and that is perfectly okay, no one needs an explanation. Own your own calendar.

I practice gratitude every day. This is one thing that has really changed my mindset. If you tend to look at the negative of situations, I would challenge you to do a daily gratitude practice. Every morning I write down 5 things that happened in the last 24 hours that I am grateful for. Not only does it allow you to see all the good in your life already, but it forces you to look for the good all day because you have to write down 5 things. I have incorporated this with my kids having them write down 3 things they are grateful day. I also start meetings at work asking everyone what they are grateful for. Check out this 7 day gratitude challenge.

I know you probably read some of this and thought “yeah I can’t do that” or “that won’t work for me” and would have said the same thing years ago. Your life is a reflection of the choices you make, good or bad, but you do have choices. Even if you don’t make the 6 changes above hopefully this sparked some thoughts for you on changes that will positively impact your life.

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