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Advice

Work-life Balance

Hashtags like #careergoals, #relationshipgoals, #fitnessgoals, #vacationgoals, #friendgoals and #familygoals flood social media daily. How do we achieve any or all these goals when there are only 24 hours in a day? Striking the perfect balance between caring for yourself, giving your all at work, and paying attention to the people in your life is difficult no matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in. The demands in our lives may change but the pressure to have it all stays the same.  

Before you design the perfect work-life balance, you need to reflect on your current capacity and demands. Imagine you have a backpack, and your backpack is your capacity to handle life’s demands. What size is your backpack? What condition is it in? Maybe you’re sporting a drawstring gym bag, or perhaps it’s one of those backpacks with all the straps and pockets you take on a long hiking trip.  

Next, think of the demands in your life as rocks. The rocks represent your relationships, emotions, finances and goals. Although you may carry lots of small rocks, they weigh and take up just as much room as someone who carries one or two large rocks. How heavy is your backpack? Does it weigh so much that you can barely get down the street? Or do you casually throw it over your shoulder each day on your way out the door? Learning to manage and carefully consider our capacity to deal with those demands is essential to finding your best balance.  

At different points in our lives, we not only have to hold our own rocks, but someone else’s too. Often our jobs or family commitments demand we give more time and effort than we are capable of. We have all taken too many credits in a semester, committed to something we really don’t have time for, or agreed to a deadline we know we’re not going to meet. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed, but ultimately, it’s up to you to advocate for your own capacity. 

There’s also the probability that you will experience tragedy or illness. When it arrives, you don’t want it to be the rock that breaks the strap on your backpack. Just like saving money for car repairs and retirement, you must budget your capacity early and often.  

If you are not happy with what’s in your backpack or its size, there are ways to lighten your load. Consider how you can take rocks out of your backpack. Some people find reprieve in asking for help and passing their rocks to someone else. You can increase your backpack’s capacity by developing healthy habits. If you eat right and exercise, you’ll be stronger and your capacity to handle life’s demands will increase.  

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s critical you remember your backpack and rocks will be different from others and it will change over the course of your life. While it may appear that some people have it all and accomplish every type of #goal you can imagine, remember that we often put our best image forward regardless of what’s going on in the rest of our lives. Your balance is unique to you and the stage of life you’re in.   

Emily Escobosa