Work/life balance is one of the things that seems to elude us the most in life. From early on, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. It doesn’t take long before so many of us begin to see that who we are is somehow equal to what we do for a career. And, in this expensive world and lean workforce, it’s not surprising how work takes over so much of our lives.
As someone who is blessed to truly love my work, I very much relate to my career being a big part of my identity--for many years, perhaps too much so. Not unlike many other folks, I spent most of my adult life as a workaholic. However, I never saw it as a problem since I love what I do. However, whether you love your work, like it, or simply tolerate it, we ALL need recreation, relaxation, and down time in our lives.
One of the top things clients come to me to work on together is taking back their time and creating more work-life balance for themselves. In addition to helping people find jobs that engage their strengths and passions more, I also love helping clients create self-care routines, set personal and professional boundaries, and make their own wellbeing – physically, mentally, and emotionally – a priority. I love helping people create more joy and peace in their lives while simultaneously not giving up their career dreams and accomplishments. We can have a strong career identity AND create time for nurturing ourselves and our important relationships.
I’m also a big believer that as a life/career coach, a key part of my job is walking my talk. So, over the last few years, I’ve worked to become a person who makes my joy, peace, and relationships a top priority, while still loving my work and being the best life/career coach and educator I can be for my clients and students. But, this has required important changes in my work and life.
Creating routines and habits has been crucial. I wrote quite a bit about this in an end of year blog post in 2021. I now have morning, evening, daily, and weekly routines that incorporate things like exercise (morning treadmill and afternoon walks), audiobook reading, and connecting with family/friends. I listened to 32 audiobooks this past year and learned a lot of great personal growth strategies and ecological information. Those books included, Ecology, The Hidden Half of Nature, The Secret Wisdom of Nature, The Heartbeat of Trees, Your Guide to Forest Bathing, The Joyful Vegan, Unlocking Happiness, Atlas of the Heart, Designing Your Life, The Mental Toughness Advantage, 21 Great Ways to Get the Job You Really Want, Today Matters, The Happiness Blueprint, How to Consciously Design Your Ideal Future, Success Secrets, How to Be More Intentional With Time, Subconscious Mind Secrets, How to Decrease Burnout & Increase Joy, 4 Ways to Stop Self Sabotage, The Art of Discipline, The Success Blueprint, You’ve Already Changed Your Life, You’ve Got This, Resolutions in the New Year or Any Time, Start Living Your Dream Now, The Unstoppable Mindset, How to Be Unstoppable, How to Stay Focused, An Effective Life, This Year Will Be Different, Winning in Life Now, and The Art of Doing Less.
With the help of my coach, I’ve also established set coaching session times, business prep times, and teaching prep times, as well as shut down times for when I cease working for the day. I schedule everything in my Google calendar - I create recurring meetings for my activities in my morning routine, my daily walks, email writing and responding, and class preparation. I create established blocks for client sessions and calls. I leave open blocks for fun activities to schedule, extra work projects, and passion projects. Every Sunday, I create my To Do List for the week and schedule in any additional personal and professional activities and projects for the week. I even schedule in time to call and text the people I love. I treat my relationships, passions, and fun with as much priority and respect as I treat my work.
It’s a massive shift from how I used to live, treating everything like an emergency that needed to be dealt with right now at the expense of my schedule, time, and wellbeing. This so frequently left me feeling incredibly burnt out, frustrated, and exhausted. By seeing what I have on my plate in my calendar, it makes it easier for me to set boundaries, say No to things I simply don't have time for, and better schedule when I feasibly can do the things I both need and want to do. I still make adjustments for emergencies as needed, I just no longer treat everything like its an emergency. Helping my clients to also create these kinds of routines and habits in their own lives so they too can reclaim their time and wellbeing brings me so much joy.
In 2022, I was blessed to work with 114 amazing clients. I got to help clients with a wide variety of personal and professional goals and see their pride in making important decisions, changes, and transformations. It’s such a gift to celebrate my clients’ successes with them. I also made ample time for joy outside of work. It was a year of many amazing personal experiences.
I visited 20 parks this past year with family and friends, 11 new ones (Natirar Park, William Warren Park, Lord Stirling Park, Hunterdon County Arboretum, Nomahegan Park, Ann Van Middlesworth Park, Loantaka Brook Reservation, Greenwood Gardens, South Mountain Fairy Trail, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and Bushkill Falls) and 9 I’d been to previously (Colonial Park, Ponderosa Farm Park, Duke Farms, Bicentennial Park, Reeves Reed Arboretum, Rutgers Gardens, Leonard J. Buck Arboretum, Laurelwood Arboretum, and Mountain Springs Lake Nature Trail).
Many of the parks I visited, I did so with my son, nieces, and nephew once a week over the summer. After suffering some major family losses, I wanted to spend as much time with family as possible. These weekly park visits with the kids were one of the greatest highlights of my year and I can’t wait to make it an annual tradition.
I also spent a lot of wonderful time with my parents. We traveled to some parks, went to a few Fall Farm Festivals, and checked out a Jazz Festival. And, sometimes, we just spent time having lunch at their house and talking. All of it was a gift and a joy.
I made time for some lunches, dinners, and hikes with friends too. In particular, my friend Janice and I committed to monthly adventures together, which included a Fall Festival, a visit to Peddler’s Village, a couple lunches at this cute tearoom, and a really wild event – The Alice in Wonderland Experience! And, with my great love for Halloween, I’m happy to say that I went to 5 Halloween scare attractions with family and friends (Six Flags Fight Fest, Scary Rotten Farms, Scare Farm, Haunted Red Mill, and Dunellen Haunted Trail).
With my husband and son, we took a vacation to Puerto Rico, Florida/Disney World, the Poconos (twice, but two different locations), Wildwood Beach in a pack of 13 of us (all family), Point Pleasant Beach, and Asbury Park Beach. We went on 9 different roller coasters at 3 different amusements parks. And we went to New York City twice to see Lion King and STOMP. But, the two most AWESOME things we did together this past year were two firsts: hiking Bushkill Falls where we saw several majestic waterfalls and going ziplining at Treeventures (9 total ziplines)!
Finally, this was a year that stirred a new interest and passion for learning about ecology and the natural environment. This led to attending 6 Environmental Education Events, including an Autumn Dendrology Workshop, Big Tree Hike, Wildflower Walk (All at Duke Farms) and 4 Night Hikes (2 at Duke Farms and 2 at Lord Stirling Park). In late January and early February of 2023, I’ll be going back to school purely for fun and my own personal interests. I’m starting the Rutgers Certified Environmental Stewards Program and Duke Farms Certified Master Ecologist Program. No career goals attached, I’m simply craving the learning and environmental stewardship of the experience.
The amazing thing is that all of these incredible non-work experiences and connecting with people I love didn’t stop me from continuing to love and engage in my work as a coach and educator. I got to have both. Actual, legit work/life balance. I plan to keep this up for the long haul, as I feel so much healthier in every way. I feel clearer, calmer, more focused, and more joyful. And, I plan to continue helping my clients achieve their own customized work/life balance.
You deserve both personal and professional joy. Here’s to exciting life and career adventures in 2023!
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