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So. 2017, huh?
Who else feels like 2017 sort of ran over them from behind? I apparently spent the whole year saying “I can’t believe it’s (whatever month) already!” And now it’s over halfway through November and nearly the new year. What. The. Heck! 2017 has straight up lacked any sort of balance. Not work life balance. Not disaster-normal life balance. At least it’s felt that way for me and my little group of folks and I’m guessing it’s felt like that for a lot of us.
Dreams & Goals
But we did it (almost), we survived 2017. 2018 is just ahead and while an arbitrary date on the calendar won’t really change how the world is running it is a helpful marker for our lives. The new year is popular for taking on new healthy practices, or setting new goals. Me, I prefer to start my goals with Advent. It just feels right to start my year with a big party (what else is the whole month of December?) It sets a far more fun tone for the rest of the year. And it encourages me to set goals, and develop habits I might actually keep up for the rest of the year.
Be honest, you don’t really want to go to the gym every day, but you tend to feel obligated in January. And if you’re like me that lasts a couple weeks and then life hits full force and boom, that’s gone. But when I set goals I enjoy, that I really care about, then I’ll happily keep them through the holidays. And that becomes my measure of whether or not something is really important to me.
A New Kind of Resolution
My new habit for 2018 (and beyond) is a new sort of resolution. Because I found that most resolutions come from a negativeheadspace. I’m not fit enough, ergo I must go to the gym. My pants don’t fit, so I must give up chocolate. I spent too much on Christmas this year so I have to give up all the stuff I care about to try to pay off that debt. Bah. It’s all pretty damn negative and no fun at all.
Here’s a new sort of resolution: what do I want in my life so badly that I cannot wait until January to get started? What am I excited about? What feels like a reward instead of a punishment? That’s my resolution. But that sort of resolution requires a framework, a balance to my life that makes space for my passions.
Balance Is Impossible
So here’s the thing. The whole idea of achieving work-life balance is bunk. It can’t be done. Because our lives are not static. The moment you get “perfect” balance something will change that will throw the whole thing right straight out of whack again. Life balance isn’t a destination or a race you can win. So cut yourself some serious slack. But…
Do It Anyway
That’s right, do it anyway. Just because something can never be reached in a permanent way doesn’t mean the journey itself isn’t worth taking. Working toward balance in each moment of your life is a worthy goal, and it’s absolutely part of this new sort of resolution. Because what “balance” really means is that there is room in your life for the things that matter to you. That might be family, and skiing, and advancing your career. Or it could be meditation, art, and cooking the world’s best fajitas (can I come over for dinner?). What it is doesn’t matter, what matters is that it matters to you.
And if it matters to you, then it is worth making space in your life for that thing. Because doing so is really making space for your soul. So, because it’s not easy and we can never just hit autopilot and cruise along in perfect balance I created I handy checklist to help me make space for myself and my joys.
I printed my checklist out, laminated it, and use a dry erase marker on it. You could just print out as many copies as you like, or use a pencil. Or you could be seriously cool and stick it to your fridge and mark off the items with magnets. (And I’m sort of jealous of your fridge now.)
Either way here’s how it works. This tool is meant to be a reminder to you when you plan out your day, week, or month to make intentional space for your joys and passions, for the things that give you life. But here’s the thing, it only works if you use it. So I suggest placing it somewhere you will see it daily. And set a reminder (on your calendar, todo app, or post-it on your mirror) to do the “monthly” and “weekly” sections once every month and week.
Feel free to change the things I’ve listed. What brings me joy may not bring you joy. I’ve tried to make this version a little more generic than my personal sheet but there’s space to customize it more. So scribble away!
Make it a habit.
Habits take on average around two months to form. So keep coming back, daily to the reminders in that section. Remember, this tool is intended to make time and space in your life for your passions and joys. Scribble on it, edit it, make your own version with different stuff.
Follow my social media accounts for regular updates on how this little tool is working for me, and I hope you’ll share your insights using the #balance4life hashtag. Together maybe we can make 2018 just a little better than 2017.