In talking to colleagues, friends, and family, I’m amazed at how much there is to accomplish and the many commitments we have each day. From work and an endless stream of meetings, to travel, to volunteering, to kids’ – well… everything, to paying bills and home improvement projects; we live in an environment of constant activity. (Let’s not even talk about our electronic devices.) And once all of our “to-dos” are accomplished for the day, how much time does it leave for our own well-being? (Crickets…)
With a full life of all of the above, I decided, when my daughter was born seven years ago, that I needed to make some changes in order to have a shot at well-being. And, those changes couldn’t be episodic or optional. So, I established some guidelines to help me navigate. Careers evolve, as do life situations, and having those guidelines in place served as a constant reminder of the commitments I have made to myself, my co-workers, my family, and my friends.
Guideline #1 – Limit travel time away from home. I do not spend more than 72 hours away for international and 48 hours for domestic travel.
My job requires quite a bit of travel; but in order to be home and be an active parent, I felt I needed to establish business travel parameters. In seven years, I think I have only slipped on this guideline a handful of times. And when I do “slip” – it is a conscious choice.
Guideline #2 – Set manageable start and end times. I rarely take calls between 6am- 8am (pacific time, see that’s important because I will take calls in the wee hours), nor from 6 p.m. until after my daughter goes to bed.
I prioritize taking my daughter to school each morning when I am home. That time with her is precious to me. I love being able to talk with her about what is going on in school that day and protect my time in order to do so.
Guideline #3 – Make exercise a priority. Depending on travel and what is planned that week, the routine or activity may vary but I always make time for it.
I was a swimmer during my college years. Those scheduled practices made it easy to stick to a routine. Now, I take the same approach by adding my workouts to my calendar. Carving out the time, booking it in my daily schedule, and sharing it with team members establishes it as an important activity in my day. Right now, I’m loving cycling (which was introduced to me by a colleague!).
Guideline #4 – Share with colleagues and team members. I have found that when I share what I am trying to do, my colleagues do as much as possible to help me achieve it. Then they feel more comfortable sharing their objectives, and our relationship changes. And, we do better work, together. What’s more, it’s more fun!
Guideline #5 – Be forgiving. Stuff happens. Sometimes you can’t follow a guideline you have set for yourself. It is important to forgive yourself when the plan doesn’t come together. Adjust, try something different – let it go. I think of it as a work in progress, constantly practicing and tuning.
After all, we have 365 do-overs every year.
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