Posts tagged ‘balance’

July 4, 2014

Doing too much?

The wonderful thing about people, is that when they like you, they usually are concerned when they feel you do something that is dangerous for you, your health or your future, and sometimes even if it is dangerous for the ones that surround you. Saying ‘be careful’, in whatever way, is just a synonym for ‘I care for you’, ‘I love you’, ‘I need you’, or ‘I wish you only the best’. The best way to respond to the warnings people give you, is to be grateful and say thank you. It is always a good idea to think about the warning, everyone has a blind spot when it comes to oneself. However, it is not uncommon to respond in a defensive way, because ‘you know what you’re doing’ and ‘you have responsibility for your own decisions.

Everything at once
One thing that I hear a lot, is that people either warn me for having too much on my plate, or that they are jealous about all the things I get done. I am one of those hyper active people who like everything, want to know more, want to learn and experience. Naturally I am a kick-starter. Need to get a head start on a new project: I am your girl. Want to fine-tune a new idea before you start prototyping: I will have a spare hour. Going on a new adventure? I’ll accompany you!

I combine all these new things with my already pretty awesome activities and somehow I manage, but I need my friends and colleagues to stay in balance. The warnings are not so much causing me to over-think my current activities; they do help me finishing something before I start something new. They do help me prioritize my activities and they keep me sharp when it comes to evaluating the actual energy I get from a new activity versus what I have to put into it.

The warnings of my friends and colleagues also helped me understand that though in my head everything is completely logical and balanced, it is sometimes hard for others to understand what I am doing and how I get away with it (/ how I avoid burning up). It also helped me understand that besides the worries, there is also something called copying behaviour. Sometimes people who surround me get the feeling they need to do more, because they see what I am doing. Now, of course it is completely irrelevant to compare your life to mine, but maybe there is something I can share with you, that will help you find your balance.

Cherry picking
First of all, find out what inspires you and what energizes you. No matter how big of a fan you can be of any given idol, you don’t have to become one if you hate performing the activity or the road towards the goal. Realize that you can be an astronaut, but if you hate mathematics and working-out, chances are you will hate every step on the way of becoming one. Is it worth your energy to walk that road just because of the goal?

There are so many things I like to do.

For me, what energizes me are a quite some things: Being outdoors, working out, music, nature, talking to people about why they do what they do, talking to people about what inspires them, coaching and helping people and philosophy, being challenged and variety. Besides that, writing, culture, painting, travelling, food, my cat, et cetera, et cetera…

Then, when you know what activities make you happy, there is an important decision to make. Everyone has to make this decision in their life when it comes to the activities we fill our days with: Are you the specialist-type or the generalist-type? You can either pick a few activities and become really good at them (specialist) or you can choose a lot of activities without being an in depth specialist (generalist).

Obviously I picked the latter.

When you know what is most important to you, and what type of person you are, it is time to start prioritizing. When you are a specialist and you only picked 1 thing that energizes you, you’re done. If you are a generalist and you picked 100 activities and topics, it is time to make a short-list. Either way, pick your cherries. Don’t settle for less than perfect.

After deciding what you want to do, it is time to start making a plan. What road will you take approximately? Why? Are there any personal milestones? What level of change is acceptable for you?

I myself choose a technique of periodizing my activities. I give myself a few options and a few long term goals. This helps me stay balanced. My priorities and periodization at this moment look as follows:

  1. For my mind: Work: challenging myself, human interaction (40 hours + 10 travel hours)
  2. For my body & mind: Sports OR music: At this moment sports activities (including education and internship) (20-25 hours)
  3. For my mind: Writing (about culture and music mostly) (4-8 hours a week.)
  4. For recovery: Rest (sleeping) (49 – 56 hours)

That is a total of 139 hours a week. That leaves me with 29 hours a week to eat, do groceries, see friends, solve problems, and other activities out of my list that I do not plan. If one activity temporarily gives me less energy, I focus on the other activity, if one activity demands more attention or time, I either re-divide my hours or use some of the 29 free-wheel hours. Another thing that helps me, is that I in general have very high energy levels, so I have an extra option for activities and daily challenges.

On the long run some of my goals are to get master degrees, get a travelling job and play a zombie in a movie (check my bucket list here).

Rest is what makes you grow, mentally and physically

Rest is what makes you grow, mentally and physically

You are the manager
Now, as soon as you’ve made a plan, the thing to stay balanced, and to stay happy, is by either sticking to it or evaluating it. If your plan doesn’t give you the energy you need to be happy: change it. If you love your plan, make sure you keep evaluating it as well, because what happens when you finish your education or you mastered a skill? Will you need a new activity or will you be happy with just one activity less. Also make sure there is some room for improvising in your plan. As you can see in my example, I have almost 30 hours a week that are unplanned. This means that one day I will skip doing the dishes, while another day I spend a few extra hours on my job or cleaning the windows.

Basically you have yourself a little process / project planning to do the things that you love and to get those things done. Your friends and colleagues, who are warning you, can be seen as the risk managers, the people you inspire by your actions (including yourself) are the customers and you are the project manager. Remember, when the stakeholders are happy, you are on the right track, whatever that track and the goal might be.



January 5, 2014

Conversations with myself

*The alarm clock goes off at 6:30 a.m..*

– Get up, you put the alarm clock in the living room for a reason!
◦ But I feel like I need an hour of sleep extra…
– Get up! Now!
◦ Okay, okay…

*Mourning while getting up, feeding the cat, washing up and feeling like sitting down for a bit.*

– Now, put on your timer and do your stretches and exercises!
◦ Can’t I just sit here for a bit, reading this interesting article about <insert any non-interesting subject here>.
– Nope. Are you seriously going to continue this the entire day?
◦ I shouldn’t, should I? I should get myself together and do what I really want to do instead of behaving like I haven’t set any goals for myself?
– That’s what I am talking about. You know why you set that alarm clock. You know you want to go <insert sports activity here>. You know what that goal means to you! You know you will have to work hard to achieve that goal!

*After doing the exercises and stretches that belong to my morning routine, and after doing that first sports activity*

◦ I want to go to the gym to do some weights!
– You shouldn’t! You need to take it easy, give your body some rest. You can always go for a run / walk / ride in the evening!
◦ But I feel incredibly fit and I am already warmed up so I can just do some weights for about 30-40 minutes and then go home…
– Seriously? Go home!

*Going to the gym doing 45 – 90 minutes of weight lifting, feeling incredibly satisfied afterwards.*

◦ Now, let’s do some cardio and go home.
– NO! You could go to the sauna though…
◦ Now.. that’s not such a bad idea.