Is work life balance achievable? How to find balance in your career and relationships.
If you struggle to find balance between your relationships and career, you’re not alone. Figuring out how to navigate building a business and simultaneously avoiding the estrangement of all my friends has been one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp. I'm finally beginning to feel like I've found a strategy that works for me, so I thought I'd share some of the tactics here in case it's helpful to you. And if you have strategies that work for you, feel free to share them in the comments below. I know I'm not alone in this, so let's talk about it!
When I made the choice to go full time with Cuppa Lo, I set office hours and deadlines, created calendars and started making space for coaching clients. I’m taking my content more seriously and stepping it up, because I'm passionate about helping people get healthy, feel better and to access the full extent of their vitality — because we only get one life and most of us are living with LESS energy when we absolutely don’t have to. But as a one-woman-show, sometimes it gets complicated juggling social invitations, romantic relationships and friendships with my business ventures. I've struggled with feelings of guilt for choosing to stay in and work on my business instead of hanging out with my friends or for staying up late on the computer instead of spending time with my boyfriend. I’ve also struggled with feeling guilty when I choose to make time for my relationships, but neglect business deadlines. It's a weird form of isolation to feel like you're falling behind in your friendships because you're choosing to invest in your future and a mission that's more than YOU. But I do want to encourage you that it is worth it and that you're not alone and that truly, you're not actually isolated. But we'll get back to that later.
I had an epiphany that balance is truly a ridiculous notion. The reality is that you have to make sacrifices to achieve any semblance of success. You can mentally agree to the sacrifice all you want, but when you’re faced with the choices in real time — man, oh man, it’s a real challenge. Saying no to Bachelor Wednesdays and invitations to Netflix and chill, or that Friday night dinner party...these are all commitments I've have had to turn down so that I can keep making strides in business, because I have self imposed deadlines, because I’m looking at the bigger picture. “Oh, chill Laura. You only live once.” Yes, yes I feel that, too. But when you start accepting invitations out of obligation or to be liked, it all really adds up and pretty soon all your time has gone to other people and NOT what matters most to you — building a life you love (and thinking about the long term rather than short term gratification). There is a negotiation there, so let’s get honest and find some solutions.
I’ve come up with some strategies and rules of thumb to stay grounded and to make space for all of it in a way that feels good and healthy, but still keeps me focused on building my business. Sometimes that means saying yes to business. A lot of time that’s what that means. Other times that means putting it aside to foster my relationships. So here we go...
7 strategies to consider when juggling your career with your relationships:
1. Know yourself.
Are you the kind of person that needs to see your friends every week in order to feel connected or do you prefer only to see friends from time to time? Now be careful here: I’m not asking what your friends want from you. I’m asking you what YOU feel like you need to sustain your relationships. Do you need dinner every night with your lover without tv, phones and other distractions? Are you an extrovert and people energize you, so you need to be around them more or are you an introvert and some of that free time needs to go toward time alone? My best piece of advice is to know yourself and then to honor that and commit to being authentically YOU. If your friends love you, they’ll respect that you need to spend less time with them. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them. And if that’s not something they can't deal with, then maybe it’s not a good fit for you anyway. Honor yourself.
2. Set boundaries and take ownership of them.
If in this phase of life your priority is your business, set office hours and treat it like you would any other important engagement or deadline. Even if you’re not making big money yet, treat it like you are. Even though taking time off can be a form of self care, so too is taking care of your business. The reality is that starting a business requires an immense amount of hustle and while you should take plenty of time to unwind, de-stress and practice self care in the form of rest, also recognize the other side of the coin, which is that you actually WANT this success and it is a VALUE that you want to uphold for your long term happiness, stability, contentment, etc. Once you take stock in what you do and don’t want to do with your time, make decisions and own it. You can say no to a social engagement simply because you don’t feel like it, and that’s a-okay. I know it’s easy to lie and pretend like you have other plans or obligations, but sometimes you just need time because you just need time. Take the pressure off yourself and do you. Own your choices!
I have a history of being REALLY bad at saying no, but I have made some huge strides in the past month or so. Far too many times I would say, “I’ll do my best to make it” when I meant "no". Be honest and communicate your boundaries with empathy (this is key) to the people in your life. Again, if you catch blow back for being you here, then maybe it’s not a good partnership anyway. But most people will respect you more.
4. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be better in some way, especially in the area you want growth in.
Ideally your friendships and romantic relationships propel you to new heights in some way. If you start surrounding yourself with people who make you better, you will shape up to be a better, healthier and happier person. Search for a tribe that does that for you.
On the flip side...
5. Walk away from toxic people and/or friendships that don’t make you better in some way.
If you find yourself feeling negative, down or de-energized by certain people, consider walking away. Your time on this earth is limited, so spend it with the few who matter most rather than the many. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to vibe with everyone and it doesn’t make you a bad person to simply not enjoy someone’s company. We’re not all made to besties. And that’s okay!
6. One way to gauge whether to say yes or no to a commitment: If it’s a HELL YES then it’s a yes, if it’s anything other response or you’re on the fence, then it’s a no.
I heard this from Derek Sivers and boy, is it a good one. Look, I know this can feel really brutal, but again, how you spend your time actually matters. Don’t live for other people’s goals and dreams. Live for yours.
7. When you’re with the people you love, choose to be present.
Okay, this one is a struggle for me. I am moderately addicted to technology and have to set some serious boundaries and cutoff times to make sure I’m looking OUT at the world, UP at the sky, INTO my boyfriend's eyes -- making genuine contact with the world on a deeper level. Y’all, there is so much more to life than what’s happening on instagram. When you’re with a person, strive to make them feel like they’re the only person you see in the room, like their story and their struggles matter to you. I had brunch with some friends recently and I distinctly remember that day I was overloaded with work and in a very impatient mood. I was listening to my friend vent about her very well paying job and felt myself getting snippy and annoyed. I minimized her pain and chose not to be empathetic to her struggles. I walked away that morning feeling like I had really messed up. But I learned an important lesson: when I make time to be with my friends, I want to make the most of it and really show up as the best friend I can be, no matter what’s happening with work, with life... Being a good friend really matters. Giving back matters. It’s not always about you and your needs. Sometimes, other people need you to be be there for them and to simply listen with an open heart.
So that’s it y’all. My heart on a plate. I put a lot of thought into this and have been practicing and dedicating myself to improve in this area. These are all points that resonate with me and I hope they help you, too. If you have any insight to share, please do. I’d love to hear about how you’ve coped with the tricky juggling act of managing a business and building lasting relationships. ❤️
Love you all!