I have to confess that since I started this blog last year, one of my biggest challenges has been finding balance. Specifically, I’m struggling to find my upper limit; how do I know when it’s time for me to put my head down and get things done, and when it’s time to walk away and take care of myself?
Where do I find the balance between rest and hustle?
This has always been a problem for me, in every line of work I’ve ever had, but I feel more conflicted now than ever before. In part, it’s because blogging and writing is a very personal project, but I also believe that I’m constantly on the receiving end of two powerful yet seemingly contradictory messages.
Let’s start with the one that every #girlboss knows too well – hustle.
I see it everywhere I look online: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, emails …
Good things come to those that hustle. // Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle. //The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately.
On many levels, this speaks to me deeply. Growing up in an immigrant family, hard work was like religion to us. I watched as my grandparents worked 365 days a year into their late sixties and my mum worked two jobs while putting herself through school. Hard work was normal and also honourable, so by sixteen, I had two jobs too.
I used to be insanely proud of the long hours and my over the top work ethic, but don’t get me wrong – these days I know busy isn’t something to be glorified. Looking back I made my life much more difficult than it needed to be, because I was obsessed with maintaining a bigger lifestyle than I really needed.
But still, the idea that I should always be willing to ‘go the extra mile’ is strongly imprinted in my psyche.
But what about rest?
Over the past few years, I’ve become a strong believer in the power (and importance) of rest and self care – and I’ve noticed it has a strong online voice too.
We don’t have to do it all. // Sometimes you need to slow down. // Rest is the new hustle. (That last one is my fave!)
I know rest is important. As I wrote a few months ago, I’ve realised that when I don’t make time to take care of myself, I get burnt out and stop caring about … just about everything. When I’m mentally and physically drained I go into survival mode (eat, sleep, work repeat) and I stop making time for the things that bring me joy.
Maybe you’ve noticed this about yourself too?
So where do we find the balance? How do we know when to push though and make things happen – and when to walk away and make time for rest?
I’ve been asking myself for the past few months and this is what I’ve found out.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EMOTIONS
Hands up if your work has ever frustrated you to the point that you’ve:
a) cried and thought about giving up?
b) gotten angry and aggressive with other people?
c) been ready to throw your laptop out the window?
Hand held high. It’s definitely a YES from me, on all three accounts.
My usual response to one of these emotional states has been to push through and just ‘get on with it’. But to be honest, this doesn’t work very well for me. I’m realising that whatever job I’m working on ends up taking me twice as long, the results are often poor quality, and I’m left in a very grouchy mood.
So for the past few months, I’ve been trying something different.
I’ve accepted that these emotional responses – sadness mixed with self doubt, frustration with a touch of aggression, or good ol’ fashioned anger – are my body’s way of telling me it’s time for a break.
At first, making this change was hard. It took time for me to retrain my mind to understand that taking time for rest was actually a productive strategy and not quitting (which is what instincts were shouting!) But the results started speaking for themselves; I’m getting more done and I’m (arguably) less cranky. ?
ACCEPT YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO GIVE 100%
I grew up hearing and believing that successful people always put 100% into everything they do, and for the most part I’ve acted on this faithfully. But lately I’ve started to challenge this belief.
First of all, it’s not working. I’m (begrudgingly) accepting I have limited time and energy and I can’t do it all, even if I want to. Putting 100% into my work, all the time, leaves me nothing left to invest in myself.
But it goes beyond limited resources; I’ve realised investing so much of myself, into everything I do, is wasteful. For some tasks good enough is … well … good enough.
Consider taking an hour to craft a ‘perfect’ email vs 10 minutes to send a quick response which adequately conveys your message. Was your email worth the extra investment of 50 minutes of your time? Or would that time have been better spent in a yoga class, or spending time with your partner?
I think the real key to success is being able to consistently make this judgement call.
Again, at times this has been a tough pill to swallow. My compulsion for excellence (or let’s call it what it really is – perfectionism) definitely makes walking away from my laptop difficult at times, but I’m trying to remember that I need to keep investing in myself in order to move forward with my work.
REST WHEN YOU REST
Finally, I’m learning that when it’s time to rest, it’s time to rest.
It’s not time to browse social media, or to worry about my to do list, or to tidy the house.
I know it’s hard. I honestly believe that somewhere in the last decade or so we have actually lost our ability to rest. Have you ever noticed when you go on holiday is takes a few days now to really start to relax and rewind? It’s because we’re so accustomed to being busy that it actually feels strange or even uncomfortable to just do nothing!
So instead we instinctively try and fill the time with little ‘tasks’ so that we feel productive, all under the guise of rest. But the result is not increased productivity, instead it’s increased exhaustion. This is why we are all tired, all the time – because we never truly stop.
So be present with friends. Sleep when you’re tried. And rest when you rest.
How do you balance the pull of hustle with the need for rest? Is it a daily struggle or do you have techniques that are working for you? Let me know in the comments! x
photo credit : unsplash.com / used with permission