THE GRAPPLES OF ACHIEVING MODERN DAY LIFE BALANCE
And a new era for mediamarmalade to support – Creating the platform, community, tools and resources needed to help you achieve the balance you really want.
Finding balance seems to be the ultimate mystery in life for many of us.
If you’re like me, you love your career and have poured endless energy, focus and dedication to the progression and success achieved in your field of work. And no doubt that relentless commitment has served you well and helped you achieve more than you might have thought. Yet perhaps so far in life, unconsciously, your career success has been at the sacrifice of other important things – holistic health, mental wellbeing, happiness, family, physical health? And i’m probably right in saying that it wasn’t a compromise you really thought about when you set out, it’s just something that happened as your career demanded more of you, and perhaps it’s one you’re only more aware of now, as the impact of that compromise has become more prevalent (perhaps your health took a hit, your personal life suffered, you’re mentally exhausted or struggling to keep afloat) and i’m guessing now you’re aware it’s not a compromise you want to continue making?
Compromising really important parts of your overall happiness and wellbeing such as your mind, physical wellbeing, family, emotional state and feelings, or your spirituality (in whichever form that takes), for one area – work, it’s going to be sustainable for ever.
You may have already had red flags, in fact you may have seen many red flags and ignored them, you may have ignored them for so long that a tsunami had to hit you full force for you to realise change was needed. Balance required. Boundaries set.
I fall in the later of those groups, plenty of red flags were raised in the last decade of my career. In fact if quitting all my sports teams which had been a huge part of my life wasn’t an alarm enough, the rapid and chronic deterioration of my physical health (eventually) was. Weekly migraines weren’t enough to stop me for a good five years. But a couple of years ago, my body decided I needed a bigger wake up call to pay attention – and that’s when I discovered (after ignoring symptoms for another year, because I was too busy at work) I had developed an auto immune disease, Ulcerative Colitis. Stress, Alcohol, aviation – all big drivers and contributors to ill health. And all big parts of my life. Endless focus on my work and incredibly internal stress hindered by lack of confidence, anxiety and pressure, only broken by big, fun, booze fuelled nights out with my colleagues and friends, or trips abroad maximising every ounce of annual leave with a far flung escape! The more remote the better.
Much of the stress and pressure was self inflicted, it usually is, the usual imposter syndrome, lack of self belief and confidence, and an innate need to prove I could do it constantly coupled with mentally exhausting self doubt. No one would know it. I was a swan. In control and well experienced to deliver on the surface, trying to keep myself afloat under water.
It’s also not a set of ‘weaknesses’ I necessarily berate either – it is exactly those internal self destructors, that have fuelled me on to deliver the best I can all of the time in my job, to never want to let anyone or myself down, to work until 1am so the presentations perfect, to prepare so I don’t fail, to sacrifice ‘other’ commitments to give my work the time I needed to be as least anxious as possible to deliver.
That self doubt got me where I am today. But what I am now learning, is that the detrimental damage it can have on your mental and physical wellbeing isn’t an okay sacrifice to make – there are ways and means to have balance. To have success and a career you’re proud of, and maintain physical, mental, emotional and holistic wellbeing.
I am on a journey of self care and have been for the last few years (well perhaps since I was a teenager when I struggled the first time around), and I feel more passionately now than ever about finding that balance for myself, but also helping others too; Those of us who do want to commit and deliver in a field of work, but also care greatly about our family, want to have good mental and physical health, and time for passions, hobbies, and relaxation – without that sacrificing work in itself.
Since lockdown this energy and passion has exploded, a month or so ago i felt overwhelmed by the ideas and scale of possibility – but what I have come to realise in the last few weeks as I’ve sought a little better balance again (see it helps), is that It can start small, and build in time, that actually letting things flow is the best bet for me.
I’ve always used this blog as a place to share career tips and side hustle advice, a place to talk honestly and vulnerably about confidence, health and self doubt, and I’ve even used it to share tips and advice on seeking balance. As my journey evolves and my understanding of (and success achieving) holistic balance greatens, as I discover new tools, techniques and resources to help achieve that balance, I want to share it with you. Jase is endlessly frustrated by my incessant ordering of books, journals, resources, but I love to read, explore and understand, and what comes with that is a whole breadth of recommendation for you too.
There are of course tons of people talking about various areas of wellbeing (and I for one love to learn as much as I can from all these places and people), but I want to create something that brings it all together in a really simple, practical and tangible manner for people like me – something that respects careers as well as health, and helps us each create a manageable balance fitted to our own individual lives and desires.
Whilst this space will still absolutely be a place for style, interiors, photography and of course my travels, it’s also going to be the first step and the place I start to share more about balance, boundaries and better living.
Not achieving health at the sacrifice of career success, but nor career success at the sacrifice of health. We want both. And we can have both.
But to have that, we have to take the time to understand ourselves and what we need (what good feels like in all the important areas of our life, what we want to achieve, what brings us peace, joy and satisfaction), we have to build the inner confidence and strength to set better boundaries, to know with confidence that we are capable of delivering, respected in our field and believed in enough. So much so we have the courage to create balance and take time to work on ourselves, knowing that finishing work on time, calling ‘enough’ or working more flexibly to accommodate all the things we want in our lives, isn’t going to lose us that promotion, that opportunity or that job – in fact that time spent on self development, is going to make us even better, even more ready and even more equipped to tackle the challenge with skill, ease and calm.
It’s gaining self respect, building self confidence, having good mental health practices, finding your groove with physical wellbeing, creating calm alongside the buzz, it’s building a daily routine that benefits all your desires, not just one.
I want to talk about that. I want to practice and develop. I want to coach, help, advise. I want to create a platform to help this, I want to create a community to support, I want to create and share the tools and resources to facilitate the time out, to provide the ideas and inspiration to design your own balance boundaries. There’s so much I have in mind – some small, some huge, and so much potential in what this new era and platform could become.
But knowing myself and what I need to not stress or get overwhelmed, i’m not going to try and do it all at once, i’m going to start here in the space I already spent a decade building alongside my career, with those of you who are already on the journey with me, and as my knowledge and capacity evolves, i’ll start to add in those additional things, perhaps expand beyond a website and who knows what this may be in a decades time. I’m excited about it.