How to set yourself up for a balanced 2021
by Gemma Leigh Roberts
2020 was a turbulent year for many reasons, not least of which was the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. Adjusting to what for some will have been big changes, while simultaneously dealing with uncertainty and sometimes real worry for ourselves and our loved ones, has understandably left many of us feeling a bit discombobulated. Therefore, it’s natural for us to aspire to a bit more balance in 2021, whether it’s in the workplace or in our personal lives.
January has come and gone and if you’re like me, you’re disappointed that the new year hasn’t magically resolved everything! External forces are beyond our control, but what we do have control over is how we deal with situations and events that try to knock us off kilter. Feeling well-balanced makes it easier to focus our energy where we want to, and is key to increasing well-being, productivity and even career success.
Below are a few ways that you can go into the rest of 2021 with a more balanced mindset.
Assessing where we are both situationally and emotionally can give us a clearer idea of where we need to achieve more balance. Journaling is a great tool for reflection – if it’s not something you’ve done before it’s easy to get started.
Acknowledge the positive areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfilment and write down the specific challenges you are facing right now. Think about how you’re feeling too, and describe which emotions are tied to your different experiences. Define what balance means to you and visualise what it would look like in your life. Doing this will highlight where you may need to recalibrate.
Identify your priorities
Your priorities don’t always stay the same over time. Sometimes the focus might be more on your family, a big work project, or something else going on in your life. Periodically reviewing your priorities – whether it’s for the day, week, month or year – will help you see where you would benefit from placing your energy to fit with what’s important to you. Sometimes we’ll unwittingly be depleting our energy on things that aren’t a priority and spotting this allows us to transfer that energy into something that’s more important to us.
Part of this involves cutting yourself some slack. In a pandemic, your highest priority might be caring for a family member or focusing on your own mental health, which means you may not be able to give other parts of your life as much attention. You can’t expect to perform at your peak in all different areas of your life consistently and acknowledging that this is OK can ease the pressure you put on yourself.
Figuring out your priorities is a key step in creating a work-life blend that works for you.
Indeed, often finding a feeling of balance is about focusing on being flexible with your ‘ blend of priorities, rather than fixating on getting the balance just right.
In my last newsletter I talked about mental agility, or the ability to respond to events in a flexible way, and nurturing this can also help you to achieve wellbeing. Letting go of control can sometimes make you feel more in control – accept that not every day is going to go exactly how you planned, or how you’d ideally want it to go. We will never achieve balance every second of every day, instead it’s something we should strive for overall when we take a step back and look at our lives as a whole (rather than focusing on individual days or weeks).
So, if you’ve had to work late nights one week due to a deadline coming up, that doesn’t mean you’ve completely failed at living a balanced life. If you have a lot on at work, putting your energy into getting things done can often make you feel better than forcing yourself to focus on other things. Just make sure that you take some time to relax or have fun another day, once the big project is delivered – this is part of creating a life that blends all of your priorities and roles effectively.
Make time for the things that make you feel good. That could be a morning coffee ritual, regular exercise, or carving out time to read a book, watch a TV show, or chat with friends. You could try meditating, writing, drawing, yoga – it could even just be reorganising your day to suit when you’re feeling most productive or ensuring you get enough sleep. Whether it’s something you need every day or something you look forward to at the end of each week, ensure you’re being intentional about giving yourself those boosts of energy. When you’re happy with your routines and have moments you actively look forward to, you might find you feel more at peace and more able to tackle any challenges.
Your balance and blend
Balance is a lot about letting go of rigid expectations and letting things fall into place instead of trying to control them – so our current times are actually the perfect opportunity to practice cultivating it within ourselves.
How do you find balance in your day to day?