“Today, just take time to smell the roses, enjoy those little things about your life, your family, spouse, friends, job. Forget about the thorns -the pains and problems they cause you – and enjoy life” – Bernard Kelvin Clive
This quote (and underlying concept) resonates on both a personal and professional level. As a busy professional, chasing the ever elusive work life balance has been challenging. The professional world is very competitive and, if you let up for a second, your lunch will be taken from you. How many professionals have felt this way? I definitely have. In the past, I was notorious for not taking any vacation beyond a few days due to that concern and an internal competitiveness. This mindset was not healthy, did not lead to fulfillment, and put me on the path to the notorious burn-out.
My personal solution to this quandary was to adopt simple and incremental changes to my life. I want to thank my wife for opening my eyes and supporting me throughout this personal growth process. Some changes I have implemented with tremendous results are as follows:
- Work smart, not just hard. Focus on doing quality work and not just quantity. This can also mean taking the time to analyze what you are doing, the underlying process, and implementing improvements to make your job easier and less redundant.
- Understand your professional goals and do what you love (or like on the way to the ultimate goal). Life is far too short to do something that makes you miserable simply to collect a paycheck.
- Maintain your health and fitness. A healthy lifestyle will support happiness and result in less health related problems to drain your energy. A related article of the benefits of this can be found here.
- Get control over your finances and become sustainable. Do not rely on credit to increase your discretionary demand. This can allow you to make the right decisions and have money be less of a factor. Some tips I have compiled on budget sustainability can be found here.
- Take time to reward yourself and celebrate your wins.
- Take a vacation, at least annually!
- Make the time to spend with your loved ones (kids, spouse, parents) and do not hesitate to express your feelings to them.
- Every year, set at least one professional goal (promotion, attainment of a certification) and at least two personal goals (vacation, consistent date nights if you have kids). This will help maintain overall balance in your life.
Each person is a complex being with wants, desires, needs, and goals that are unique. The ultimate goal for every person should be the attainment of personal satisfaction and happiness. That is why “stopping and smelling the roses” is so important. It is easy to get caught up in our professional lives, the next project, next promotion, but the happiness that will be obtained from those pursuits is fleeting. Making a concerted effort to reflect and refocus will result in higher productivity and lasting motivation in your career, in addition to being a better member of your family.