Are You Leaving Enough Space For Your Life in Your Work?

some celebrating - photo by liz kalloch

If you are an entrepreneur-self-employed-part-time-creative-consultant-activist-full-time-trying-to-find-your-calling-and-your-raison-d-être it’s not all about the marketing plan, the biz plan, the to-do list, the connections, the working it, the social media-ing, the never ending must-dos. It’s also about fun.

Fun, you say? But I’m trying to get a business off the ground so I can make the living of my dreams; so that I can leave the place I’m working at now; so I can keep things status quo and so I can be happy and fulfilled and not feeling like I am being crushed like a bug by boredom and fatigue in that 9-to-5 gig I left, or am trying to leave. {wow, I feel out of breath, what about you?}

{breathe in, breathe out} Yes, fun and joy and lightness and ease are just as important as the work, because I’m guessing if you’re anything like me, though I love my work, I didn’t sign up for my own gig so that I could work all the time.

It may be your life’s work, but remember to make sure there’s enough space for your life in your work.

Some reminders, suggestions, and prompts for all of us:

  • Celebrate all your quirks, all the silly things that make you you, all the things that got you to where you are right now, to the person you are right now.
  • If you have a work schedule that is solidly in place, mess with it. Turn it upside down. Start with what you usually end your day with, or start with what you do in the middle of the day. Keep yourself on your toes.
  • Instead of pushing yourself through a problem, a glitch, or a roadblock, take a break for some perspective: call a friend, go for a walk, stare at the sky, take a nap, play with your cat (or dog, or stuffed teddy bear) and know that you will solve whatever it is if you give yourself some space to breathe.
  • Skip {or run} when you could could get there walking. {Take a cue from your 3 year-old self.}
  • Keep yourself inspired by whatever means necessary. Spend a moment to recollect and then write down all the feelings and thoughts that you can remember having when you first realised you wanted to be who you are and do what you’re doing.
  • Ask yourself this: Who am I if I am not working? And also: Who am I when I’m working?
  • Go to your go-to people. Go to them a lot. Talk. Skype. Meet. Talk. Listen. Understand. Share. Laugh. Gather. Talk. Listen. Repeat. Often.
  • For one day throw out your to-do list and make it up as you go. Take some notes and remind yourself how that went.
  • Ask your go-to people to be your memory, and when you’re feeling lost, ask them to remind you of who you are and why you are doing what you do. Think of them as life-lines, because they are.
  • Make some part of your workday about play: Clean off your desk and leave a sticky note paper with a smiley face on it, paint the cover of the folder your tax papers are in, make a playlist of songs that you can sing along with while working. I think you get the idea.
  • We human beings are a mix of a lot of things: serious, silly, loving, competitive, insecure, certain. The list is potentially quite long, so I’ll leave it at that… What I’d like you to do is list some of the things you’d like to see yourself being more of, and then start to put those same qualities into your work. {NOTE: Please make this list, while also NOT dissing yourself for any qualities you’d like to see less of; keep your focus on the things you’d like to see more of.}
  • Celebrate your work and life successes in whatever ways are meaningful to you; just mark the occasions. Sometimes these successes happen at moments when we feel we are too busy to stop, and we think we’ll go back to acknowledge them. Truth be told, we rarely do. Stop to acknowledge, even if it’s five minutes worth of lighting a candle and calling your mum.
  • Make ridiculous, idiotic faces at yourself in the mirror. It diffuses a variety of blah, icky, stressful situations. Very quickly. {Yet another cue from your 3 year-old self.}
  • Check in with yourself semi-regularly, and ask: Am I still doing {or moving towards doing} what gives me joy and purpose and expresses who I am in this life?

Whatever it is that you are working on, working towards, working for, remember to remember just why it is you’re doing whatever it is you do and keep your life and your work happy and light. You can have some deep and intense too, just keep some joy for the side.

We’d love to hear any of your own queues for keeping the moments light and buoyant. How do you keep remembering why you do what you do?

10 thoughts on “Are You Leaving Enough Space For Your Life in Your Work?

  1. What a great article! While I have to keep many of these items in mind, I do try to have light moments…Dogs are my passion and one reason I started my business and I have two border terriers. When I’m working and need a break, I’ll take a moment to lay on the floor of my studio with the dogs to relax, or I’ll run around the house with them singing to them. It makes me laugh because the dogs love to run around with me (chase me!) and they get these great grins on their faces. How could you not feel happier after running around with two smiling dogs!

    I hope to quit the day job one day so I can spend more time with my dogs…they are the most fun co-workers!!!
    If you’d like to meet my dogs, I often post about them on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/houndandthistle

  2. Lovely stuff Liz! I’m inspired – play breaks throughout the day… Something that I like to remind myself to do often, even though I’m working on my own, is smile – it feels so good. A bit of playtime makes it hard not to!

  3. Thanks for this! I find it really hard to separate work and life at the moment, as I work for clients but also try to get my own projects kick-started… somehow I don’t count my own stuff as work.

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