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Start with Balance

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People who know me will find this to be a hilarious topic. Start with Balance is post # 3 in my You have to START to finish series. Balance is one of the things I hear everyone talking about these days and I am about as out of whack as they come with the topic of balance.

I had planned this as part of this series but couldn’t help but hear Jim Connolly speaking to me when I read his post this morning, Have you been working this week? Jim also mentions Danny Brown’s post, the Danger of Not Work which also discusses this issue. Both of them talk about how when work isn’t “work” to us, we run the risk of never quitting.

Jim says this:

If like most business owners you LOVE what you do, always be aware of the need for balance.  Paradoxically, by working a little less, you often find that you achieve a little more.

and Danny says this:

When we’re passionate about something, we never see it as something we have to do – we see it as something we want to do. But how long does it take for our not work leading to everything else not working?

Both fit me well and have even before the solo focus on Design Resumes this year. I can remember way back, probably around 2003 or 2004 when one of my very good friends e-mailed me these words and told me to put them on my computer:

Take time for yourself — every day!

I put them on a post-it and left it there for a few years. My friend struggled and still struggles with the same problem himself, so in reminding me, he was reminding himself.

But I do love what I do, I love working with my clients, I love blogging, I love social networking and writing in general so none of it is work for me. However, I do know that I can’t be creative all the time and the well does run dry. So I break up my days, doing house projects sometimes and on days when I am running out of steam, I take a nap.

In the summer months, I tend to be outside much more. Wisconsin doesn’t lend itself to play much, for me, anyway since I don’t ski or snowmobile. In the spring, summer, and fall, I walk and work in my yard or even just move to the deck.

I wrote about the job seeker perspective in All Work and No Play, Or earlier. The same concept applies to anyone, job seeker, career changer, entrepreneur, or happily employed and not moving. We all need to look at the issue of balance.

Since I am still working on the  balance concept, here’s a few of my concessions:

  1. I’ve started reading fiction again. Not deep fiction, just light fiction that makes me relax. I finish a book every few days. Delving into someone else’s world gives me a different perspective and I love to read. Before I was only allowing me to read books related to marketing or the career industry and so I was getting to the point it wasn’t relaxing to read anymore… it was work! Now the novels entertain me and often teach me at the same time.
  2. I go to bed much earlier these days. Before I stayed up until 10pm or so most nights but sometimes the last three hours were just me sitting watching TV mindlessly and waiting for the magic hour. Now if I wake up sleepless, I pick up my book and read again until I am tired and my average sleep is more than 7 hours most nights as opposed to 5 to 6 hours.
  3. I break away to go cook something. Again something I love and it serves a duel purpose — I enjoy being creative in the kitchen and I and whoever else is around gets fed.
  4. Periodically, I meet a friend for coffee or lunch and just leave for a couple hours. Since I don’t have a car right now, I really am at home (which is also where work is) most of the time and so getting out just for a bit helps.

Notice that none of the points above cost anything except #4 costs any money and even #4 can be under $20 easily (if you opt for lunch instead of coffee). For job seekers watching a budget, there’s a few options to break up your day.

I suspect balance will always be a challenge for me, but in 2011, I will give more thought to finding more. Stay tuned to my next thoughts on Start with… my series on You have to Start to finish!

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I Can’t Hear You!

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Lifelong career planners – I love my clients #2

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