“When experiencing burnout, we basically go from living to existing. We turn into a zombie. When we no longer have the ability to find and produce joy in our lives, it signals something is wrong.” – John Kim
Read that twice.
We’ve all endured the phases of burnout where we begin to go through the motions, check the boxes, and then go to sleep just to wake up and start all over again. Usually, when this happens we keep up this routine until some divine inspiration plops into our laps to wake us up. But what if we didn’t have to wait for a sign? Instead, could we create a lifestyle that eliminates the burnout so that we don’t just exist, but live!
The biggest misconception with the statement, “balance is key,” is the wild idea that we must balance multiple aspects of your life at once.
Now before you start thinking, “what do you mean, isn’t that what balance is?” consider first getting rid of the idea that life balance looks like a scale, a seesaw, or anything resembling the two. Rather, could we invite the idea that balance is the combination of two equal parts, and for this blog’s sake, let’s say those parts are Play & Productivity.
In order to ramp up your play & productivity and essentially go from existing to living, I believe that at the basics, we must learn to prioritize & create space to thrive.
Prioritizing The Important Things
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That title may sound redundant, but believe me when prioritizing what is important is harder than it sounds. I was the kind of person growing up who thought that filling my schedule completely was the way to be successful.
At one point in my life, I worked a full time job at a digital marketing agency (Hi Coast Creative!), taught 2-3 yoga classes a week, assisted with 3 dances classes once a week with various small weekend performances & productions, co-owned a tea business, taught workshops and classes all over Southern California, popped up at markets & fairs, ran a blog, and still somehow interacted with my boyfriend, my family, my friends, and my two pups. All. At. The. Same. Time.
What? *shakes head in disbelief*
I thought all of these things were urgent, extremely important, and absolutely necessary.
I was so, SO wrong.
Finally, when I was feeling like I couldn’t remember the last time I sat on the couch and thought about *nothing* I realized that I needed to make a change. I needed to identify what I wanted to do with all of these things. I made to-do lists, pros and cons lists, talked it out with friends and family if I was making the right choices.
It was a long and messy process of internal and external battles, but as soon as I was able to see the bigger picture, it became clear to me that these things I was juggling didn’t need to all be in the forefront.
In the words of Marie Kondo “Does it bring you joy?”
If it doesn’t, let that s**t go. Learn to say no when you need to. Know that everything is temporary and life is short so why not optimize it to be the best functional human being you can be?
Take It Home: Create a list of all the primary things you do on a regular basis. See if there is something(s) that you can let go of or do less of.
Enjoying The Space
If you’ve gone through your re-prioritizing, you’ve essentially already created space. So let’s talk about how we can live in this new experience. Now that you’ve created space, bask in it. Just take a moment to notice the breathing room. You know those things that yoga teachers tell you to do – breathe, meditate, go at your own pace. The yoga teacher in me says, “Do that.” But the balance in me says, “Or don’t. Do what you feel called to.” Give yourself permission to do either.
Creating space doesn’t mean that you suddenly have an abundance of emptiness. It means you now have space that can turn into play. Because at heart, play really just means doing the things that make you really happy that isn’t work.
Identify your definition of play. Maybe it’s taking your dog to the beach or binging on Netflix. Maybe it’s traveling or doing nothing at all. Whatever it is, enjoy it. This is not work.
To me, creating space means that I have the time and space travel, and spend time with my loved ones, or do nothing at all. To me, this means that I know that I don’t have to grind everyday to be successful.
I am grateful to work for a company that operates on a “just take it” perspective when it comes to vacation. This is straight from the Coast Creative Unlimited-ish Vacation Policy and I couldn’t say it better: “We simply don’t believe that creativity is a 9-5 job. Sometimes you’re in the zone for hours and sometimes you need to take a break (or 4). By giving our staff more flexibility in where, how and when they work, they are able to deliver the best product to our clients.”
The key point thus far: Prioritize what’s truly important so that you can create space to do what you love.
Take It Home: Allow yourself to be. Know that your newfound space doesn’t have to be filled. This is okay.
Play & Productivity
In my world, (and maybe yours soon) to have play you must have productivity, and vice versa. I Play is done best knowing that all that needs to be completed gets done. Work is done best when a pause, a break, or a vacation is an arms length away. It’s a science to do it right and it isn’t always an easy journey but this is what balance looks like. It doesn’t look like a daily grind or carefully placed items to even out a scale.
A mix of productivity and the freedom of space – that is what a balanced life looks like.