I know it’s been said a million and one times, but here it is again: Your work takes up a large part of your life, so you better make sure you love what you do!
The truth is that I love my job, but I also love my life outside of work and even though I wake up excited to get into the office, I’m equally as excited to shut down my computer and take to the streets of New York. There are always a million and one things going on in New York — friends in town, concerts in every neighborhood, new restaurants opening and new places to explore in my running shoes. It’s amazing, but with a full-time job and a full-time social life, I’ve also found that it’s important to balance work and social activities with some quality “me” time.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to balance all of the things you love in your life, here are a few suggestions:
Take Your Lunch Break
If you have the liberty to have a lunch break, take it. And if you can, don’t just refuel your body and rush back to work. Even on a budget, you might be able to fix yourself a lunch worth savoring or meet a good friend to chat over a sandwich. The mid-day classes at my Brazilian jiu-jitsu school are always packed with men and women who shrug off their work clothes for a quick roll on the mat before heading back to the office. If you can use your lunch break to clear your mind, forget about work and do something you enjoy, why not take that opportunity?
Schedule a Fun Weekend
The key word here is schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to plan out your itinerary minute by minute, but you ought to at least daydream about some activities you enjoy ahead of time — then follow through! Use the weekend to enjoy yourself in ways you can’t during the week: Take a trip upstate to do some hiking, go dancing all night, or stay in bed with a cup of tea and a novel, but make sure that you do what you love, rather than just going grocery shopping and sitting on the couch.
Don’t Waste Time on Things You Don’t Love
I often find myself frittering away my free time on Facebook when I would rather spend it actually seeing the people I care about face-to-face.
Don’t get me wrong: In those instances when I can’t see people face-to-face, I’m thankful for Facebook — but many of my friends live in New York City, and they’re often just a few blocks away when I’m writing on their walls! It’s difficult, but when I cut down on my social networking time I find myself feeling less lonely and more loved. Put your energy into the things you care about most, and you will be surprised how much of that energy comes back to you.
The question arises: What do you care about most?
Everyone has their own answer. My personal priorities are the people I love, my creative and professional work, and caring for my body (in that order). Everything else comes second. I don’t always do right by all three, but I do my best. And just knowing what my priorities are helps with making decisions on a day-to-day basis.
Create Your Own Rituals
I can’t leave the house without eating a good breakfast. Fixing and eating breakfast is my way of taking the time to center myself and enjoy a simple pleasure before plunging into the stress and strain of the workday.
Some people sing, some people pray, some people dress themselves with exquisite care — whatever it is, making a daily habit of doing one thing you care about, no matter how seemingly insignificant or idiosyncratic, helps to create balance in life.
Take the Scenic Route
In New York City, it’s easy to rush through the street, hail a cab or fiddle with your iPad on the subway. But when the weather’s good, few pleasures can match strolling through your local park or exploring an unfamiliar neighborhood. If you have the time between obligations, why not take the scenic route instead of descending the subway stairs as usual?
No matter how important or demanding your career, it definitely depends highly on taking care of yourself as much as anything else. So take a little time to celebrate yourself, to center yourself and to relax. Creating a balance between work and life requires you to set your own priorities and to be mindful of them once they’re set — but it also makes life much more fun.
Sarah Fudin currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Masters in Teaching program, which provides aspiring teachers the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree and teacher certification online. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.