work_life_balance

9 steps for having it all

Do you ever groan at the presumed impossibility of building and maintaining a successful career, having a fulfilling personal life and also having health and happiness? Are you laughing just reading that? Well, you wouldn’t be alone. Many people, especially women, continue to struggle with the thought of having it all and the expectations society places on those building a career who also seek out some semblance of work–life balance. It can make you sigh just thinking about it or — let’s be honest — throw things at the wall, scream at whoever is within earshot and just generally pull your hair out.

How do you create the career you love, one that makes you come alive, ignites your passion and allows you to work with purpose, while also feel genuinely well, vital, alive, and thriving? It is a pretty powerful and important question. Perhaps even the question of our time.

After spending nearly two decades in multinational corporations, travelling the world, completing not one but two Masters degrees, becoming a single mother along the way and rising to the pinnacle of my profession only to completely burn myself out, get seriously ill and throw it all in at the ripe old age of 35, I became curious. Well, first I collapsed in a heap on the floor, took two months off work to regroup and get well, and learned how to teach yoga and just be still.

Then I got curious. Really curious. Could it actually be possible to live in this world of big business, or any business, fulfilling my passion for the work I loved but to do it in a way that didn’t have me working 70 hours a week, screaming at my son, killing my adrenals and wreaking havoc on my life? Was there a way I could find that could shine a light on the path for myself and other women, or was I just kidding myself?

Well, here is the good news. There is another way and I know this to be true because I am not just hypothesising about it — I am living it. It is my hope that you can take something from my journey, from the lessons I have learned from speaking to thousands of women and coaching individuals, and let them help you on your path.

So with that in mind I have taken some of the key themes from my new book, Getting real about having it all: be your best, love your career and bring back your sparkle, to share with you. Here are nine ways to create the career and life you love and, importantly, to live it well.

#1 Create a life vision

I often ask people what their ideal day looks like and they usually look at me blankly. Or I ask them about their life goals and they talk to me about their career plans. What comes up for you when you think about these questions? Think about your ideal day, month or year. What are you doing? Who are you with? How are your passions coming out to play? How do you feel? Thinking about this and creating a vision of your days and weeks is a great determinant for your life.

To play with this and bring it to life, have some fun with these ideas. You could create a vision board that has all the elements of your ideal life on it. It could be the type of house you want, a healthy family, your work, your ideal partner if you don’t have them already, your health and fitness goals or your spiritual life. You get the picture.

Alternatively, you can use a cool online tool such as Pinterest and do it all online. Draw in a sketchbook, create a scrapbook or just write it all down in a journal. Then work out how your life vision plays out in your everyday life and what you need to do to make it real. Life is a collection of those days. So be mindful about how you are living them.

#2 Find your passion

Our passions ignite us, they get the fire burning somewhere deep down in our souls and they make us want to leap out of bed in the morning and stay up all night. They make us come alive and they can make the difference between a life just lived or a life fulfilled. One of the keys to creating a career and life you love is to tap into your passions and connect them into your days. To get a feel for what that might look like, think about the following.

What do you absolutely love to do? What moves you most? What do you love? If you are struggling to find what your passion is? Ask yourself, if you were stuck in a bookstore overnight, which section would you sleep in? Why?

It’s not all about work. We often think that to live with passion we have to chuck in our jobs and go chase rainbows. Following your bliss doesn’t mean you have to throw everything else away, including your paid work. We all have to make a living and being pragmatic does not rule out being passionate. Find small ways to bring your passion into your everyday life and watch your world light up.

#3 Live your purpose

Living and working on purpose is so important to loving your life. When you are living on purpose, you love your work; it is your calling; it ignites your spark and fuels your passion. It helps you to integrate all the areas of your life as you live and work with meaning. You know you are on purpose when you would do the work without getting paid for it, when you never stop talking about it, you never want to stop doing it and you feel alive.

Have a think about it as you ponder this for yourself, “Do I have a burning desire to do what I do?” If you can answer a big “Hell, yeah” to what you are doing, keep going. If not, it might be time for a rethink. Take a look at your motivation for what you are doing. You may be surprised by the answers.

#4 Create some space

Let’s face it, our lives these days are pretty busy. OK, let’s be honest: they are crammed to the rafters and set to explode at any minute. Between career, relationships, kids, bosses, domesticity, exercising, staying connected and just keeping up, life can get pretty crazy.

You need to make a conscious and consistent effort to create some space for yourself. Creating space is like drawing a long, slow, beautiful, nurturing breath. Without this, you just run one race after the other with no finish line in sight.

What space can you create for yourself? It could be personal space to have a bubble bath once a week, space to go to an art class or the gym a few times a week. Or it could be work-related, such as creating space for a new career. The key is to realise you are worth the effort and, once you can identify what your needs are, you can make the space to make it happen.

#5 Set some boundaries

It’s great to have a life vision and to create some space, but if you don’t know how to manage your vision and protect your space, it’s just an academic exercise. Having effective boundaries in place helps you get the right things done and manage your time and energy, and can keep you on the track towards being a cool, calm success, not a hot, crazy mess. The reality is that knowing your boundaries is a key part of respecting yourself, being able to state your needs and letting people know what will and won’t work for you.

For your boss, it helps to set expectations, so it’s clear what you are and are not prepared to do. In your relationships, it helps to clarify what you need and what is and isn’t acceptable. For yourself, it’s critical that you have parameters around your work, social and personal lives so you can manage your career, family and your health and wellbeing.

If you don’t know where to start, think about the times when you feel compromised, resentful or uncomfortable at work or home. This will be a good sign of where your boundaries may have been crossed. Think about what your boundaries should be, set them and then keep them in place.

#6 Don’t over-commit

For so many people this one is really important key to living a life that is manageable, enjoyable and not filled with stress-laden anxiety of the never-ending to-do list. We have all been guilty in the past of saying yes to too many things, which at the time may have seemed manageable but, when it came right down to it, were actually downright impossible.

Have a think about what is on your list at the moment and take stock. First, if you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to prioritise and potentially de-commit. What needs to come first and what can come of the list? This is the most important step you can take to get under control. When you are thinking about taking on new commitments in the future, think about your list, your life and your sanity and take a long breath before saying yes. Your stress levels will thank you for it.

#7 Listen to your inner voice

One of the key ways to manage your life in a way that is authentic to who you are and what you really want is to get in touch with your inner voice — your inner knowing of what is right for you. Now, that may sound super simple; however, in a busy life, with many distractions and competing priorities, it can get really challenging to understand what is your own internal guidance and what are just external noises competing to be heard. Plus, you also need to learn to trust that inner voice once you can actually hear it.

The clearest way to get to this place of listening to your intuition, trusting your gut and acting on it is through meditation. Many people shy away from the idea, but you don’t need to over-complicate it. You can simply sit and follow your breath — on a meditation cushion, in a chair or under a tree in your backyard. You might also try sitting by the ocean listening to the waves or hit the open road with your running shoes on. Anywhere you can find some peace and silence, get really quiet, tune in to yourself and your inner knowing, you can tap into the power of your truth.

#8 Energy is your currency

You hear a lot of talk about time management, whether it be in your work schedule or your personal life. Unfortunately, we often only talk about energy when we don’t have any and are crying, “I’m so exhausted!” However, energy is the new currency. Everyone who ever lived had exactly the same number of hours in the day as you and I, so the real leverage is in how you actually harness and manage your energy sources.

According to Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project in the US, there are four types of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. What you do with these sources is key to how you feel moving through your day, how much you get done, the state of your relationships and even the state of your health.

So how is your energy? The first step is to get real about where you are at right now. Are you exhausted physically? Are your emotions running ragged? Are you OK mentally but your spiritual energy could get a look in? Taking a real honest look at this is a critical step in addressing what could be one of the most important factors in managing your career and building a life you love. So take that look.

#9 Nourish and restore

Nourishment and restoration are two things many people do well for others but perhaps not so well for themselves — and many wouldn’t even know where to start. One of the key and most powerful ways to nourish yourself is, of course, through what you put into your body. Clean, organic, whole foods, pure water, a truckload of greens (or just a blender full) and no white stuff (sugar, flour, rice etc) are keys to giving our bodies the optimum fuels to thrive.

As for restoration, when was the last time you did something just for you, to truly restore yourself? In a busy life it is of the utmost importance that you make time to bring yourself back to balance. Take a bath, go for a walk by the ocean, meditate, get eight hours of sleep, journal, paint, read, spend time with your partner and friends. Work out what you need to really restore yourself and make time to make that a priority in your day. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it.

 

Megan Dalla-Camina is a corporate strategist, coach, speaker and author. You can connect with her at www.megandallacamina.com. Her book, Getting Real About Having It All, is published by Hay House. www.hayhouse.com.au.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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