It's 7 p.m. and the boss needs someone to stay late to handle an emergency that just cropped up. Who does he ask to stay -- the parent who needs to pick a child up from daycare, or the single person whose evening routine tends to be a trip to the gym?
As a working parent, I can easily forget that people without children are just as challenged achieving work life balance as those of us with children -- sometimes more so because employers assume they are available all the time. For this reason, I truly appreciate the perspective of guest blogger, Michelle K. Suarez, a business lawyer with the full-service law firm Kelley Kronenberg in Fort Lauderdale and a former personal trainer and fitness competitor.
As 2016 comes to an end, the importance of living a balanced life has worked its way to the top of my list. You see, I am a passionate person. Almost to a fault. I am passionate about my career, my family, my community, my fitness and my friends. But, I am often asked: ‘How do you do it? How do you find the time to practice as an attorney, publish articles, be active in the community, workout, prepare meals for the week in advance, and still have time for your loved ones?’ The truth is, it takes a lot of planning. If you want balance in your life, you have to figure out what you are passionate about, and make time for it, no matter what. To accomplish this, I consciously allocate my time by trying to turn the things I have to do into the things I want to do.
One way that I incorporate these tips into my own life is by making sure to discuss the week ahead with my boyfriend (who is also my workout partner), so that we can schedule our workouts together. Even though I’m not one to talk much during a workout, we have started to use our time driving to the gym and back as a way to stay connected and fill each other in on our day. And, even if we can only fit in a twenty minute weight session when our schedule is extremely tight, we make sure to commit to the gym date and we do it together. It makes our gym dates fun and something I look forward to.
Life has a way of challenging us, until we eventually figure out what it is we really want. If what we really want is more time with our family, to work in a profession we love, or to be healthy and in great physical shape, life will keep redirecting us until we figure out how to get closer to that goal. This is where it becomes important to make the distinction between having to and wanting to do it.
For example, my paralegal recently complained about needing to lose weight after her son was born but claimed that she just could not find the time to exercise. I showed her the various ways she could do exercises at home, using her two year old son as a weight. This way, exercise would not mean sacrificing time with her son and she could find a fun way to lose weight. The new plan worked and she and her son both love mommy exercise time. By turning her ‘have to exercise’ into her ‘want to exercise,’ she is much happier. She is even preparing healthier meals and has decided to pursue other passions she set aside long ago. And it all started by turning a ‘have to’ into a ‘want to.’
I believe that when people say they want to ‘live a balanced life,’ what they really mean is that they would like to spend more time doing the things they love to do versus the things they have to do. And that starts by pursuing your passions.