Aiming to Find Balance in 2017
It’s not just that I’ve been tipping over in dancer pose in yoga. Although that’s true, too. My goal for 2017 is to find balance in my life.
In 2016, I said, “Yes.” I said big yeses, like, “Yes, I will take this man to be my husband,” and little yeses like “Yes, I’d love to join you at a gym I’ve never tried.” I said yeses that introduced me to some of my favorite friends, like “Yes, I’ll come to #Sweatworking,” and yeses that I regretted, like, “Yes, please prepare our food as spicy as you would for native Thai people.” Yes made 2016 an unforgettable year that pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me find my place in a community that I cherish.
But “yes” can also be exhausting. I started saying yes to fill the times my husband was working late, and soon found him waiting for me to get home. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I felt constant pressure to show up places that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be. I started to experience “fear of missing out” any time I traveled or couldn’t be in two places at once, and when I took a step back and looked at it, I realized that my anxiety that I was never doing enough or was dropping the ball somewhere didn’t make sense.
To find balance, I want to work on employing three strategies that I found through learning from the incredible life experts here at aSweatLife.
Choose Yeses Carefully.
When recapping her 2016, Nikki Desai highlighted the importance of saying no. Sometimes working out twice a day isn’t the best thing for your body, even if you have fun at the time. For some people, 6 am workouts mean entering a sleep deficit that’s hard to recover from. In certain situations, promising your boss an analysis within the next two hours isn’t going to showcase your best work.
Saying no isn’t always easy. Kelly Magnus recently texted me, inviting me to back-to-back classes she was teaching with Dani Muckley. Of course I wanted to go. I love both of these women and I knew seeing them would leave me happy all day. Studio Three is one of my favorite places to train and I knew the workout would be killer. But I also knew I had plans to work out with a friend that evening that I didn’t want to bail on. Was agreeing to three workouts in a single day the best choice? Was fitting in two workouts before work, meaning I’d be simultaneously exhausted and arriving to work later than I wanted to the right use of my time? Of course not, so I said, “no.” And even though it was hard, and I feared what I’d be missing out on, it kept me on track for the week.
As Kelly talked about in her Lunch and Learn during #SweatworkingWeek, it’s important to be honest with what you want to do, and not feel pressure to say yes when it’s not the right choice for you without fear of letting someone else down. When I’m tired, I just want to sleep an extra hour. When I haven’t spent quality time with my husband in two weeks, I just want to stay home on a Sunday afternoon and do nothing together. That ‘no’ might disappoint someone, but taking a day for yourself will make you a better friend, wife, daughter and person in the long run.
‘Yes’ can be empowering, but it needs to be used properly. To find balance, it’s time to start saying no.
Plan the things that matter.
I’m great about planning my workouts. The week before, I usually have my calendar planned for the following week so I know when and where I’ll get to sweat. At the same time, I sometimes forget to schedule the things that matter.
When my husband started medical school and his schedule got busier, I made him promise me that we’d get one date night every week. Whether that was a planned meal we cooked together, a night out at a restaurant, a movie or a bike ride, there was one night assigned for the two of us to connect, reflect on the week and be together. Four and a half years later, I realized how much we’ve both let that slip. If I’m being honest, I realize how much I’ve let that slip. In 2017, I want to go back to scheduling in our date nights and cherishing that time because it’s important to me.
In her Lunch and Learn, Kelly also talked about the importance of a game plan. Whether that’s a game plan for your day, your week or even your month, writing down the things you want to get done helps you set priorities and feel accomplished. Instead of feeling anxiety over the overflowing laundry bin, the empty fridge, the lack of training for your 10K, the slideshow presentation that isn’t quite done … write it down. Set a timeline to get it done. And then start planning your time around how to check off the items on your list.
Know what you want to do. Create a plan. Execute.
There are always distractions and excuses. I’m entirely guilty of it way too often. My husband often teases that he gets home and there is half of dinner starting to burn on the stove, paperwork partially completed on the table and he’ll find me in the other room hanging a clock. It happens at home, at work and in every other piece of my life. My brain can move pretty fast, and that can lead to complete lack of efficiency.
In his #SweatworkingWeek Lunch and Learn, Eric Owens talked about how he uses meditation to train his mind not to drift. During meditation, he forces his brain to focus and not drift into other thoughts. Sometimes it takes an hour just to practice cooling the anxiety in his brain. When I find my brain shifting from one thought to another, I want to practice consciously focusing on the one task I’m trying to complete. I want to envision that I’m on a tennis court, with tennis balls flying all around, but instead of trying to hit them all, grab one, stop, give it a gentle bounce and hit it. This is going to be a hard one for me, but I know if I can work on it that I can gain so many efficiencies in my day that will make me feel less rushed and anxious.
I need focus in my training as well. When I did a 10K in 2015, I added a Hal Hidgon training program onto my regular fitness routine. I’d mostly take my long-run days as my workout, but a two-mile or three-mile run was always complemented by a high intensity interval class. At the time, it didn’t feel so bad. I ran my fastest 5K ever after completing a grueling class at SWEAT. But by the time I got to race day, my body was worn and my race went poorly. I was working out so much that I didn’t have time to cook the meals I wanted to eat. I wasn’t following the training plan the way it was written or taking care of myself. It didn’t work. I’m attempting another 10K trail race this year, and this time as part of a Marathon Relay team. Knowing that other people are counting on me, I want to focus my summer on training for the race according to a plan and not adding more on top of it or trying to hit strength or other goals at the same time. If the 10K is my goal, I want to focus on it.
Dismiss distractions. Focus. Follow through.
Balance is a tricky goal. It breaks so many rules of goal-setting because it isn’t measurable, and I don’t have a clear timeline. But I know that if I can catch myself making the right choices, I’ll feel better, I’ll do better and I’ll be better. Let’s chat in a couple months. I’ll let you know how it goes.