Do you ever wish you had a giant remote control? Not to switch the channel on your tv, but to pause your life? Freeze frame. Time to take stock and get some perspective? Now that would be handy. 
 
The pace of life has never been so fast as now. We live in a world of short attention spans, instant gratification and a desire to achieve more – quicker and with increased efficiency. This rampant desire for ‘progress’ leaves us reeling and the feeling of overwhelm is common. 
 
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic something strange happened. For a few weeks we all STOPPED or slowed down at least. For some it felt like an impromptu holiday, inspired by the amazing Spring weather. The path was unclear, so we all took a breath, looked around and smelled the daisies. It was a time like no other. The traffic stopped, the streets were silent, and we had time to think. Some people started new businesses, others invested in their wellbeing and health and others vowed to spend quality time with their children whilst they could. Generally, this felt like a positive time, even though we were locked in our homes and unable to travel. We started to get back in touch with what was important to us. 
 
Fast forward almost a year and our lockdown stories are quite different. Many of us are working from home, in endless zoom calls and barely able to take a break. It’s clear that many organisations are seeing this 'virtual revolution' as a positive one for increased productivity but, as individuals, the demands on our working hours seem greater than ever. Many people are working from their kitchen tables or the spare bedroom and this has changed our relationships with our homes. Once a place of rest, recovery and relaxation, the boundaries are blurred for many. It makes it so easy to “just do another hour or two”, “check my emails” or “attend that late or early conference call”. We might not realise, but this has taken its toll. 
 
 
My Struggle 
One of the reasons I work with people to improve their life balance is linked to my own struggle in this area. When I was younger, I would often work a 60-hour week and be known to be on a conference call in my pyjamas at some ungodly hour. I worked in several global organisations and I was driven to do well. At that point I didn’t have a family, so I could give my work everything. I know, that if I didn’t have a family, I would still work excessive hours. As I write this, I know that isn’t a positive thing as burnout and stress are likely outcomes. I've experienced both in my career. Getting the balance right has always been a challenge and continues to be. Like any addiction, it never totally goes away. 
 
The thing is, many of us are not choosing to work long hours currently. Our circumstances dictate it. However, we have the reality of increased workloads and the domestic 'fall-out' of lockdown to deal with. The last few months have left many of us feeling tired, overwhelmed and failing. Many of the women I have spoken with feel like they have failed at work and at home. Due to increased demands, they don’t feel like they have done anything well. This is not a great place to be.  
 
So, it brings me back to the bus. How do we stop it long enough to get off? How do we pause things long enough to reflect and take stock? How can we take positive steps to get back in the driving seat and carry on our journey with purpose and clarity? Most importantly, how do we feel like we are succeeding again? 
The first step is giving yourself time to think and reflect. 
 
Firstly, you need to decide that you deserve some time to think. You have to give a little time in the short term to gain more time in the long term. Nothing will change if you do not take time out and invest it in reflection. 
 
Secondly, you need to get clear where you are spending your time today. Many of us are swept up in a reactive game of ‘whack-o-mole’ where we dart from one commitment to another and feel too busy to assess whether we are using our time effectively. Analysing where you spend your time is enlightening and a game changer. 
 
Thirdly, you need to discover what is important to you. When we reflect on what we care about, it makes choosing where we spend time so much easier. Prioritising what matters to you is instrumental in achieving better balance. 
 
Fourthly, reflect on your identity and how this impacts your behaviour. Many of us believe we have to behave in a certain way to avoid letting people down. Some of us think we are indispensable. We are not. Challenging your life rules helps you create new ways of looking at things. That new way is our future. 
 
Lastly, you have to get assertive with your time. When you know what matters to you and what your priorities are, it helps you say, “no”, “not now”, “not me”. You will also be clear when you want to say “yes”. 
 
I know it doesn't always feel like it, but you drive our own bus. You decide when its time to stop. You decide when you get off. 
 
The Thrive over 40 ‘Better Balance’ Program starts on Tuesday 30th March at 7pm. It has been created to help women work through these five steps, in a supportive environment and build a more positive, balanced future. This 6-week program is being offered for a special price of £295 and includes weekly virtual live training (90 minutes), weekly reflection assignments and a private Facebook group for additional support. If you would like to learn more you can book a discovery call (link at the bottom of this page) or contact us via email at contact@thriveover40.co.uk. 
 
https://www.thriveover40.co.uk/our-programmes/better-balance/ 
 
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