A friend recently reached out to me asking for advice on how I structure my day to “do it all,”—i.e. work full-time and fit an intense workout routine, a side gig, family and other extracurriculars into my schedule. While I was flattered, I also knew it probably sounded effortless when I put it all on paper. The truth is, it’s never been—and will never be—easy.
Prior to my revelation, I always found myself comparing my work-life situation to others or stressing over the whole idea of why I didn’t have balance. Constantly striving to attain this intangible, picture-perfect scenario in which I would feel at peace with being pulled in multiple directions, was emotionally draining. I never felt satisfied and constantly found myself second guessing my career and personal choices.
Moving toward the idea of work-life cohesion in which I approach my rather hectic lifestyle (which I have formulated by choice!) on a day-to-day basis, knowing I am constantly shifting my priorities and energy, has been the first step toward acceptance. You can learn more about work-life cohesion in part 1 of this blog series by clicking here. Like we discussed last week, if you want to be able to “do it all,” you have to remember that there won’t necessarily be balance, but rather the choices you make will satisfy what you need in that day, or that moment.
Alas, here are some real-life applications of achieving work-life cohesion, with the end goal of accomplishing what you need to do, but also providing fulfillment and fuel for your soul.
1. It’s not 100%—it’s how you divide the pie that day.
Do away with this idea of “giving it 100%.” I’d like to say I give 100% all day, every single day to my jobs, to my son, to my husband, at the gym, and with my friends. In the past, I would beat myself up for feeling as if I was falling short at everything. I am one person and don’t have the energy and brain capacity to always be 100%. Instead, I pick and choose the times and situations in which my 100% is truly present, knowing it will be dialed back at times. Sure enough, during an important meeting with a client, I am 100%. When I’m at the gym getting through an intense strength training circuit, you sure as hell can bet I am 100%. And when I come home from work and see my son for the first time since 8 am, and we read his nightly bedtime story together, I am most certainly operating at 100%.
2. Realize that sacrifice can be rewarding, if the outcome is more than the sacrifice
If there is an action or routine in your life that you cannot live without, sometimes in order to squeeze it into your already demanding schedule means choosing it over something else. For me, I choose working out over an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Yes, waking up at 4:45 to get myself in the car for a 5:30 am class is extremely hard, but the payoff (extra endorphins for the day!) far exceeds that extra snooze time.
3. Treat your body right, and don’t skip meals
Yes, I am adding food in here because it is the fuel you need to stay focused and healthy. That means that sacrifice shouldn’t ever be a factor when it comes to your meals (yes, I’m talking breakfast, lunch and dinner). On days where I don’t eat well (i.e. lack of proper protein, carbs and water), my mind is fuzzy and I hit a wall. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take time to make healthy choices when it comes to food, and to not skimp on meals—no matter how busy your day gets. A clear mind means you’ll have more energy to apply yourself to those matters that deserve your 100%.
4. Self-care is not self-love
Just because you take a bubble bath or cover your face in a mask on the reg doesn’t mean you are giving yourself what you need mentally. There tends to be so much emphasis on the physical action of caring for yourself, but let’s not mistake that for what lays at your core. If you’re feeling anxious or defeated, practicing self-care won’t change what’s inside. Instead, pursue a love with yourself—care about your heart and your soul, using self-care only as a tool, not as the cure-all.
5. Ask, and you may receive
In my return to work after maternity leave, I made a very bold request: asking for my company to grant me one work from home day per week. I knew it would be crucial to being able to balance our family’s needs with daycare and my husband traveling, and it would enable me to be more productive at work and at home. Luckily, my job was willing to grant me this request. While I know it is a privilege most don’t receive, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask. If you’ve demonstrated your value at work, you may be surprised at what your company is willing to reward you.
6. Measure obligation vs. desire
Say yes to the people and plans that bring you fulfillment; start saying no to those out of obligation. Be selective about who and what you fill your time with. The end result will be time well spent, and more free time to be spontaneous or relax.
7. Stop comparing
While it has its benefits, social media can be detrimental. Take it from someone who suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) and the bad habit of self-comparison. Always remember there is always a story beyond the lens, so no matter how perfect a person’s life appears on Instagram or Facebook, he or she is posting only the good snippets (we know you’ve done it, too). Stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and keep creating your own real-life feeds filled with the highs and the lows. Not to mention, the less time you spend clouding up your mind with others’ lives, the more time you’ll have to focus on improving yours.
8. Have an accountability partner
Find your tribe! Maybe it’s one person, or maybe it’s a whole group. For me, I have yet to find my “mom group” but I’ve come to accept it’s OK. Instead, I’ve cultivated relationships with other like-minded individuals whom I go to for support and friendship, and vice versa. I love cheering my friends on, and the satisfaction you receive from growing a friendship based on similar experiences is unmatched.
9. Find something for you, and only you
For years I would describe my daily routine of sleep, work, repeat as if I were stuck in a fish bowl. That was until a friend of mine suggested I join her Beautycounter team as a consultant. At first, I was hesitant, but it’s since become a passion project for me. It is the one thing I am in complete control of (not my husband, my parents, my child—just me), and it brings an additional spark to the monotony of the day. Perhaps it’s a book club, a fitness group or a volunteer gig; take a chance and try something completely new. Yes, it’s adding more to your plate but as long as it’s fun, it will remain a pastime rather than an obligation.
Like I mentioned, I’m often asked by fellow working moms how I “do it all.” Trust me, I don’t, nor do I have all the answers. I’ve been surprised when I’ve received that question. Because I know that’s what we are constantly striving for—doing it all, and doing it 100% right every time. If there is any balance to achieve in your life, it’s offsetting the stressors in your life with positive activities, people and practices. Because when an individual is focused and fulfilled, this will inevitably foster an environment for optimal productivity and stability.
And you can finally get off that seesaw and maybe find a swing. Ultimately it’s up to you how high and fast you want to go, depending on the moment.
Tammy Martinez is a production manager for a print management company in Stamford, CT. She spends her free time sharing safer beauty and inspiring other women with self-care and self-love tips through her passion project with Beautycounter. When she’s not working, you can find her spending time with family and friends and working out. She lives in Southport, CT with her husband Danny, son Sebastian and fur child Chip.