There is no such thing as a work-life balance. For true balance, some areas have a higher priority than others at different moments in your life. It depends where you are in life during a certain month, week, or even part of your day. I believe it means being fully present and focused on whatever it is you are doing at a given moment.
This is what I thought I was doing, balancing all of the things in my life. There’s a lot. I am on the board of the PTA, volunteering for Moms Demand Action, campaigning for our mayoral candidate, being a Daisy Troop leader, and Wolf Pack leader for the Cub Scout group. Not counting that I’m a business owner, writing a book, a podcast host, a wife and mother, and finding time for myself as well.
Realizing What Makes Me Truly Happy
I also thought I was doing a really good job until I stopped for a moment to think about what it is that I am not doing in order to fulfill all of these other things that I am doing. One of them was the podcast. Another one was that I wasn’t reading books the way I used to. Instead of taking time to relax and read a book, I was working on newsletters, the auction committee, creating the to-do’s for future meetings for Daisy Scouts and Cub Scouts. I was on Twitter getting into battles for our mayoral candidate and doing all of these other things. It was myself that I was neglecting.
I also recognized that it wasn’t making me feel fulfilled, and I was getting aggravated and frustrated, depending on what task I was working on. What I did find was that the moment I would sit down to do my actual work, my job, run my business, work with my clients, my feelings completely changed. I was so happy and proud of my achievements. Not to say that I am not proud of what I’ve done in my volunteer work, but it wasn’t the same and not as fulfilling.
Saying No And Creating Boundaries
Sometimes, you may feel that you are going to save the world and be the voice to change others’ opinions. But, there’s a whole lot of people who can help do these things, and they should. I needed to recognize that I don’t have to always be the one to do it all.
I know that I can fit all of the things into my day, but I realized that it doesn’t fulfill me. I’ve also learned that the world isn’t going to end because I don’t volunteer for everything that needs to be done. Take for example, the PTA. PTAs have done just fine without me for a long time. I will continue to use my voice, but I’m going to step back and start saying no more often. I’m going to create the boundaries that I had in place before, but I let them drop. You don’t always have to say yes. You can say no, and it’s okay to do that. Pick one thing to do for an organization, and then let others do the rest.
Saying Yes To Everything
I think this is why a lot of volunteers get so burnt out. Because once you say yes to one thing, others think that you can just do the rest of them because you’ve already done one. They also assume you don’t work. People seem genuinely surprised that I don’t just work, but I own a business. This is an indicator that I’m doing too much because someone is looking at all that I’m doing and thinking there’s no way this person has time to work on top of all of the volunteer stuff. So, that’s my red flag to myself. I’m starting to sit on my hands more, to not say yes to anything and everything. I’m working on it, and I’m stepping back.
How To Be More Balanced
So, how can you balance all you do? You don’t. Once you add something to your plate, something else has to move off of it. Realize when you’ve taken on too much, and, then, go back and say no to some things. Do what really makes you happy. Volunteer, but make sure you’re not saying yes to everything. Prioritize what you want. For me, this means putting my family first. There will always be opportunities to volunteer and to use your voice and to change the world, but you have to be happy and healthy within yourself in order to be effective with anything else.
So, I invite you to take stock of what that means to you as we enter the holiday season. Start saying no to things that don’t fulfill you, ask for help, and prioritize your time! To hear more about how to balance volunteering and learning to say no, listen to podcast episode 155 above or on your favorite podcast app.