Do you already feel behind before you even open your eyes in the morning? Are you driven by accomplishment, but at the expense of self-care?
Life can feel like a constant balancing act, a race that we’re continually losing. We live with a scarcity mentality as a result, feeling like we never have enough time, energy, or sleep.
Being driven to be the best you can be in every area of your life, especially your career, is a positive thing. But as with everything else, our ambition needs to live within intentionally set boundaries in order to be healthy.
Ironically enough, when you drive yourself to the point of exhaustion, you can quickly get the point where you’re unable to be your best self when it matters most – and not only will your quality of work suffer, but your professional and personal relationships will as well.
Here are three questions to ask yourself today to begin mastering the art of balancing your drive with self-care.
What Do I need to be the best version of myself?
Self-care is unique for everyone. For example, introverts need to build a certain amount of recharge time into their day to be at their best, while extroverts need social interaction to charge their battery. But even the specific ways introverts recharge can look very different, as can the kind of social interaction that extroverts crave.
To get to the soul level of self-care that you need, think about the things that bring you the greatest joy every day. What makes you feel most alive? These are often the little things, like your favorite places, people, or passions.
The key is to identify the feeling you have when you are at your absolute best and work backward to pinpoint exactly what made you feel that way. Then make a self-care list in a place that is easily accessible.
The next integral step is to begin turning inward on a regular basis, well before you reach your burnout point. This will gradually give you a sense of how much self-care you need to build into your day, and when. This is a daily practice, and depending on your level of self-awareness, it may take some time. But that check-in will eventually become a more natural habit.
The last step is to begin planning ahead for the self-care you know you’ll need in order to stay charged and at your best. Refer to your list until that is second-nature as well.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Identify the things that make you feel most alive and create a self-care list
- Turn inward to become familiar with what it feels like to near burnout
- Plan ahead to gift yourself the self-care you need each day
What do I have to accomplish?
Entrepreneur, author, and speaker Chuck Blakeman once said, “There are no excuses or even reasons—there are only priorities.” Let that sink in for a moment.
We are so busy all day long, but with what? How often do we stop and take stock of where our time went each day?
And the most important question: what would your life look like if you started saying no when a “yes” would mean overcommitting or sacrificing self-care? How much easier would it be to say no if you were so clear on your priorities that it became a question of alignment, instead of obligation?
When you get clear on what you want and stay focused on those goals, everything else falls into place. Make a list of your top three priorities in every area of your life, and put this next to your self-care list.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Take stock of how you’re spending your time each day
- Get clear on what is most important by making a list of priorities in every area of your life
- Begin intentionally spending your time based on alignment, not obligation
What does the balance between accomplishment & self-care look like for me?
This is as different for everyone as your definition of self-care.
Now that you have your self-care and priorities lists, use them to map out an ideal day in your life, beginning with everything you need to do the night before to start your day off right. This will give you another level of clarity for what’s possible, and what a balanced day really looks like for you. Spend some time on this and be specific.
Now take it one step further and map out another day based on the minimum you can do to be at your best, and a third day that lands in the middle of ideal and the minimum. This creates a growth path and makes your goal more achievable, so you can begin striving for the minimum or middle, and then work toward your ideal.
It also provides a framework and some immediate boundaries to put around your drive, to ensure you’re getting the unique kind and frequency of self-care that you need.
Here a quick recap:
- Map out your ideal day, beginning with the night before, to define the balance of drive and self-care for you
- Map out two more days, one based on the minimum and the other defining the middle
- Make your ideal day the end goal, and begin with focusing on following either your minimum or middle framework
Give Yourself Grace
Finally, give yourself an abundance of grace. You’re not going to get this right the first time, or the second time, or probably even on the third attempt. You have years of unlearning to do, and you’re literally retraining your brain as you begin these new practices.
Having the grace to fail and try again, adding new information and approaches each time, is the best way to ensure eventual success.
Stay focused on your priorities, practice self-care before you too desperately need it, and view the balancing act as achievable, knowing that you have enough of everything you need to be at your best self at all times.
Read this ebook for five ways to create the balance you crave and replace overwhelm with calm.