The desire to be successful is not a negative thing. Striving to be the best you can be may push you beyond your self-perceived limitations to achieve greater heights. But the drive for perfection can be an exhausting and stressful mode to live in, and ultimately is often detrimental to your overall wellbeing.
Take a moment to reflect on your own standards of perfectionism in the areas of work, family and self-care and see whether you are pushing yourself a little too hard. Adult life is complex and challenging – we are required to juggle many balls and may feel an expectation to never drop a single one! Examine the demands you place on yourself, or that others place on you, and take the opportunity to redefine standards that are more realistic and beneficial for you.
“Striving for excellence feels wonderful because you’re trying your very best. Perfectionism feels terrible because your work is somehow never quite good enough.” ~ Marcia McCay
We live in an eternally ‘connected’ digital world. The overload of information coming in through social media, communication platforms and work-space tech is intensive and can be extremely overwhelming. Being able to reply to work emails on your mobile phone may be convenient but it also blurs the line between work and personal life.
Practice new boundaries when dealing with work matters during personal or family time. This may be particularly challenging if you work for yourself, but in this case it’s even more important! Resist the urge to check emails at all times of day and night and try blocking off specific hours to engage with work matters.
Self-care is key
This is often one of the most challenging areas to pay attention and time to, and one of the most vital. Many people find it difficult to build in time each week to exercise, meditate and simply have downtime. The impact of a healthy diet and appropriate physical activity is key to overall feelings of wellbeing on a day-to-day level.
Examine your current routines around nutrition, exercise and rest. How can you begin to prioritise any of these areas if they don’t feature at all in your life? Start small! Don’t commit to running 10kms each day, rather commit to a short run once a week for a start and build up from there. Make a regular calendar date with yourself for true downtime and don’t cancel the appointment!
Learn to say ‘No’
While you may not be a classic ‘people pleaser’, saying ‘no’ to things may not be your first inclination. Learning to say no to people, requests, opportunities and demands can feel uncomfortable at first, but it is a really important step in redefining healthy parameters in your life.
Take a look at what is really important to you in your life, and what you want to devote quality time and energy to. From there, it is easier to identify the ‘time-wasters’ that may pull you away from this focus. Begin to draw gentle but firm boundaries to reduce these energy drains. It may be the chatterbox that corners you every day at work for 20 minutes, or the cat meme blackhole on Facebook! By saying ‘no’ to certain things you free up time, space and energy to channel into your priorities.
Change structures in your life
We all get into habits and routines, and it is good practice to re-evaluate these from time to time. For example, if you’re a working mum and you cook dinner for the family every night, as well as doing all the grocery shopping, these factors may well be adding additional levels of pressure and stress to your daily life! Think about how you can change things up a bit, involve the kids (if they’re old enough) to help with simple dinners once a week, or institute Dad’s Dinner night. Be prepared to experiment with new ways of doing the usual tasks and you may find a much better balance.
And in the words of the famous Dolly Parton: “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” All areas of life play an important role in our wellbeing. The achievement of optimum balance is an individual exploration that requires flexibility, experimentation and adaptability.
So, what can you do today to start shifting your work-life balance?