It’s 9 pm, and I find myself at work again tucked into my little office typing away, hoping to check off just two more items on my never ending Gmail tasks list. The gym is locked up for the night, trainers have gone home to eat their veggies and protein and get some sleep. Just me and my keyboard… and the cats. Kimura, the OG gym cat, is staring at me in the guest chair opposite my computer desk wondering why I am still here and NJ, the newest addition to my feline family, is curled up in my inbox on top of invoices, file folders, and notes. She scoffs at my workload and gives me a cute yawn and blinks innocently as if to say, “Process me. I’m cute. I am an actionable item!”
Hi. My name is Roxy, and I am a workaholic. I often think that being a workaholic is much better than being a slacker. “At least I get shit done!”, I think. In my more naive days, I could be found saying, “Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the motivated.” Or some other shared and liked cliche fitness quote on social media. But the truth is as much as I love my work, love my life and honestly believe that hard work pays off there is a point where overwork does more harm than good, just like over training for fights can lead to failure and eventually adrenal fatigue.
There is a fine line between being a hard worker and working yourself into a puddle of stress and exhaustion at the expense of other important aspects of your life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the above distinction, and I wanted to find one word that would give me the focus and drive to be a better person and not only tackle goals (as much as I love goals). I wanted one word that would stick in the back of my mind like a permanent post-it note on my subconscious. A word that could help give my actions purpose – and that is why I’ve decided to name this year my Year of Balance.
As a former fighter, much of my life in the past was about excess. An excess of energy I needed to burn, the obsession to train hard day in and day out and become a champion. Excess is not inherently a bad thing. Without it, I would not have had the drive to accomplish all that I have. Now that I am older I find that feeling of insatiable hunger is gone and replaced by a desire to be more, well… Balanced.
In thinking about how to create a more balanced life, I found this Wheel of Life tool very useful. When I sat down and thought about my life from this bird’s eye view, I realized that there were a few areas I was slacking in. Most noticeably my creativity, spirituality, family and social life.
I urge you to sit down and make your wheel of life. Think about eight areas of life that are important to you and fearlessly evaluate where you are on a scale of 1-10 then see where you are falling short.
Since recognizing my tendency to prioritize work over other things in my life that are important to me I have taken a few big steps to rearrange my life.
First, I have been taking a creative writing course, writing weekly and journaling daily. Second, I have been taking yoga classes. For the past 12 years, I have been totally resistant to taking yoga. “It was my mom’s thing,” I thought. “It’s for wussies.” I’ve probably said before… But as always what we hate on is more a reflection of what is lacking in us.
Know, don’t get me wrong, I still love to punch things and think that lifting heavy weight is the best way to look lean and be awesome, but the breathing and spiritual attributes of yoga have been helping to calm my mind and give me more…. you guessed it, balance!
Yesterday in a class my instructor said that yoga is about finding the balance between control and surrender. I had this “ah-ha!” moment and felt as if he was talking just to me. He was specifically talking about, the warrior one pose – holding it with control, but at the same time surrendering to the uncomfortable sensations that will arise. But I also saw a correlation to my life. I love being in control of everything in my life. I love the control that working brings me. I love knowing that I create my life and my luck and that I control my destiny, but all control and no surrender hurt us. It hurts us physically, mentally and emotionally. It hurts our loved ones, our community, and even our sacred productivity. If I allow myself to work myself into the ground, I am useless to all those around me. I have shot myself in the foot and everything I’ve worked so hard for I basically just crapped on. I must surrender to the beauty in life. I must surrender to my limitations.
That feeling I get when my mouth is dry, my stomach is grumbling, my headaches and I tell myself, “Wait, just one more email! I promise then I’ll go home!” Yeah, that is not a positive, productive feeling. Then I arrive home impatient and exhausted, unable to be present and appreciate the life I worked so hard to make and all I feel like doing is having wine and tortilla chips for dinner. Fail.
Have I been perfect this year since coming to this resolution of balance? Hell no. Will I make mistakes? Yes. But the subconscious Post-it note is there, reminding me, nagging me to treat myself kindly. Here are some more things I’m doing to create balance:
1) Taking two days off a week.
Yea, that’s right, I’ve worked no less than six days a week for the past eight years or so. I may still be working a bit from home on my days off, but I have the option not to now… and I have the time to do some writing on those days, which helps me feel more centered.
2) Scheduling my workouts and blocking off the time on my appointment calendar so I can’t get booked during those times.
Before I would just arbitrarily schedule a workout time, then keep shuffling it around based on my workday, clients and consultations, inevitably it would get pushed aside if I got slammed. The Whole Life Challenge I completed with gym members recently helped me prioritize my workouts and blocking off the time helped.
3) Delegating tasks to others and systematization.
What’s the point of being a business owner if I have to be there all the time? I opened up a business to offer an excellent service to others and give me the freedom to live and work the way I wanted. I did not open a business with the intention of having 80 hour work weeks for life. Letting go of all the control has happened gradually. Now, I don’t train as many personal training clients. I have a training team of 8 people that helps to coach. I have a front desk team to help me with office work. I try to create new systems that replace me, and I trust in those systems.
4) Looking for ways to praise.
This is a relatively new addition, but I’ve discovered that finding ways to appreciate my life, my partner, my staff, my clients and my friends and myself will always bring more joy into my life. I am a strong critique, my work is never good enough, I always need to do more and better, and as a result, I am hard on others, and life through those lenses looks disappointing. When I look for ways to praise things around me, it shifts my perspective. I can still always be working to be a better version of myself, but I am also looking for what to be happy for and what is good. I am surrendering to beauty.
Lastly, I think it’s important to note that in finding balance and nurturing the areas of life that need more sun and water that does not mean we shift gears entirely and give up nurturing the parts of our life that are thriving. I will never stop being a hard worker. I will never stop loving the reward that work brings me. I will never cease to be aggressive and headstrong and occasionally stubborn – but I will work on finding that perfect balance between control and surrender. You need both.