Work/life balance weighs on us all heavily. For some of us, it’s more like work/work/little life “balance.” For someone making a career (and therefore, life) change, the suggestion of establishing and maintaining a manageable lifestyle is laughable but so very necessary. Over the last couple of years, I’ve grappled with the following:
1. Moving. Creating a different path for yourself undoubtedly requires a substantial time investment. And it can seem daunting to even start, especially when you begin comparing yourself to others who are already at the pinnacle of your new profession. But if you can only take a small step every day or week in this new direction, that’s progress.
“To do” lists keep me moving forward. I am OBSESSED with them. These lists have kept me accountable to myself and heading in the direction I want. It might not be practical to altogether quit your job to pursue your love at the beginning of your transition, like it hasn’t been for me. By writing down short and long-term goals for myself and constantly updating them, I’ve been able to make the time to practice law full-time while slowly making the transition out of it. Some days you identify tasks that take a few minutes out of your day and then can be crossed off the list, while other days you have to spend a few hours a day after work for weeks or months before you accomplish that goal.
2. Controlling. Control your thoughts, or they will control you.
– If you want others’ input, be mindful of who you ask. Just because someone loves you does not mean they will understand your decisions. There will be naysayers. Stay focused on what you want and keep at it.
– Don’t ever tell yourself that the anxious feeling you have about starting something new is the same as doubting whether you want it at all. I’ve always prided myself on being open to taking risks (or at least, calculated risks like skydiving and swimming with sharks), and leaving what I’ve done for over ten years to venture into a field that is wholly different has made me feel largely exhilarated, but, at times, it has made me feel queasy.
I know the nerves only surface when the adult voice in my head tells me that everything I do has to be perfect. But I’ve learned to hush that voice. The voice that speaks the loudest is the young girl who is fearless and thrilled to move ahead in this adventure.
– Pep talks are a must. I hear people at the gym talking themselves up before they lift, so why aren’t you doing the same for yourself? Giving yourself a pep talk doesn’t mean you are weak. You might have people in your life who don’t accept your new path, sometimes for their own selfish reasons. You have to be your biggest cheerleader. Go you!
3. Caring. So you’ve been spending all this time thinking about how you are going to change your life and your career and how these changes are going to make you happier. Even though you’re engrossed in creating your new life, which is making you happier, it could also make you bonkers because that is all you think about. (I’ve been told that I’ve started talking to myself a lot.) Somewhere along the way, you forgot to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. What’s more, you forgot to care for, or tend to, your relationships with your children, significant other, parents, siblings, friends, and so on.
This is a daily juggling act for me. I don’t exercise as often as I’d like. I’m probably not the greatest friend these days because my time is limited. (But when I do see my friends, they do get chocolate from me!) I haven’t figured how to tackle this one, but I haven’t given up.
Each day, I balance moving forward and controlling my thoughts, while trying to take care of myself and my relationships. What’s worked for you as you’ve made life changes?