So you have family responsibilities or exciting interests you’d love to develop – and a busy and demanding professional role.
Does it sometimes get all too hard? You’ve just had a long weekend, or a good holiday, and your heels drag reluctantly back to work. You wish the holiday could go on forever. On the first morning back you wave your family goodbye as they head into their day, and long for the opportunity to spend more time with them. Or you put aside your special passion, lay down your paintbrush, your music, or your sports equipment.
You arrive back at work, the boss says, ‘Thank goodness you’re back. I just can’t manage without you’, and you slip right back into the hectic schedule. Within a few days it’s as if you’d never been away. You’re happy to be needed, but buried inside under the avalanche of ‘busyness’ is a thought that you’re living life in the fast lane, without ever stopping long enough to check if you’re on the right highway.
Does this sound familiar?
Few people take time to see clearly where they want to go in life. They hear the far off music, but don’t take the time to search for the source. If we have no goals, no clear path, we’ll never know for sure whether we’re driving down the right road. We’ll also feel pulled and pushed by the winds of fate, instead of experiencing a sense of control, balance, and satisfaction with our life.
Yes, life is exciting. Yes, life is lived in the fast lane these days. And – another yes – we can control more of our happenings than many people realise. However, it takes some thinking and planning ahead, and you may have to enlist the support of others.
Much more on the vital area of planning and prioritising to design the life you want, in Robyn’s best-selling ‘Getting a grip on time’.
Some Practical Tips:
- Be strong enough to say ‘No’ politely but firmly if you have last-minuting team members who consistently ask you to stay back, when it will conflict with your other responsibilities.
- Make regular outside commitments clear when you first consider a job. Once you’ve started, if something new comes up, discuss it with your boss. Managers are not mind readers – communicate. Most of the time they’ll be flexible if asked.
- You work with challenging people who won’t support your interests? Try future pacing. Imagine yourself coming away from a meeting with them that has gone really well. You’ve expressed yourself eloquently, they’ve been totally supportive, and you’re feeling great. Do you know that your subconscious can’t distinguish the difference between present and future? Create a memory of success, and when the time comes to ask you’ll walk in with more confidence. You’re also much more likely to get your desired outcome.
- Hire a cleaner. Many people say ‘I couldn’t afford it.’ How much do you spend on lunches and snacks right now? A couple of hours will only cost between $30-$45, you’ll come home to a clean house, and Saturday can be spent on life-enriching pursuits instead of embracing a broom and a toilet brush!
- Do a load of washing every few nights and use a clothes horse to dry them.
- Have pre-cooked meals in the freezer for the nights you’re too tired to think, let alone cook.
- Put children on a household duty roster, including cooking duties. Even a five-year old can prepare vegetables and plan a simple meal.
- At both work and home develop a ‘Do it NOW’ attitude. If you touch something, complete with it. Don’t shuffle ‘stuff’ from place to place.
- This one sounds a little outrageous, but I’ve used it with my six children and husband to great effect! Sick of tidying up after family members who won’t put things away? Warn them beforehand of your strategy. Then, any time you find mess in the kitchen, pots which mysteriously missed the washing up, and clutter anywhere, put the offending items in the middle of the floor in their bedroom or on their bed. Shut the door and walk calmly away. A few piggly people will step over their debris, but most will be shamed into action.
- I’ve even heard of some parents who in desperation threw toys and clothes in the rubbish bin (after numerous warnings of course).
- Don’t be a perfectionist. So there are dust curls under the beds? Who’s looking? Will it matter in five years’ time?
Have fun, and don’t take life too seriously. We get no second chance.