I'm an all-or-nothing person. I can be obsessive about work or rival a sloth when I'm not, and I am highly adept at berating myself over both. Sound familiar? That being said, I am on a track to a happy medium -- a place where stress is less self-inflicted and life is a lot more enjoyable.
I'd been thinking about a change for years, but it all came to a head when my position was eliminated at work and I found myself facing an uncertain future. It's been incredibly scary and completely liberating. I realized that I had an opportunity to rethink my work/life balance and bake in some tools now that would help me in the future. It's not brain surgery, but the following strategies have worked for me so far.
Raise the white flag.
First and foremost, I try not to war with myself when I fail to meet my own expectations. This is a hard one, but in the end it's just not helpful, and I waste valuable time I could be spending on a million other things that are way more productive.
Obligations can be fun.
For years, I've been telling myself that I should take greater advantage of all that New York City had to offer, and then I promptly didn't. I mean, people come from all over the world to enjoy what I've been taking for granted -- right? So each week, I set aside time to try something new. It doesn't have to be big, just something that would've normally been passed up in the rush of life's hustle and bustle, and I give it the same priority as any other obligation.
I love technology. I mean I really love technology. I am more than happy to Facebook while I'm watching Netflix while I talk on the phone. But frankly, more often than not, when I find myself surfing the net while engaged in something else, it's boredom-inspired reflex. It's boreflex. I've cultivated a career filled with multitasking, and it follows me home at night. My mission has been to focus on one thing at a time and savor it. If I become bored, I try not to impulsively pick up my smart phone; I turn to something that will keep my attention. As a result, I feel more relaxed. In the interest of transparency, I find it also helps to put devices in another room, waaay out of reach.
The Sausage Principle
A friend and mentor told me about the sausage principle, and I find it's helpful with just about anything in life that's difficult. It's simple really: Just imagine any issue as a giant 5-pound sausage. (Seriously, keep reading, you'll get what I mean.) If you had to eat it all at once, it would be impossible. Paralyzing, in fact. But if you cut the sausage into thin, manageable slices, chances are you'll eat your way through it before you know it. I am currently engaging the principle to tackle the daunting realities of my job search. I allot a certain amount of time each day to focus on networking, interviewing, resume writing, etc., and then when I've completed my to-do list, I move on to other things. I feel less overwhelmed, and I am way ahead of the game while enjoying a level of calm that I've never experienced before.
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