Balance, for me

Tweet from reslifebmace 1/19/11 at 11:52p EST:
“We have to change our thinking and learn to value and admire people who understand a balanced life.” — Natl Geographic

I feel like I get balance.  This is my third professional live-in position (not all Student Affairs – but still 3rd live-in job).  When I was interviewing for this most recent position (Graduate Hall Director) the interviewing committee asked me about balance and how I maintain it.  I think my answer then is about the same as my answer now.  It’s all about building positive habits into your routine.

  1. I work out — while I wish I could say I work out every day, that would not be currently true.  I have done the daily thing before & intend on doing it- but the reality is that I don’t do it every day.  However, I do work out quite regularly.  I discovered a while ago that I enjoy video games – but am really bad at them.  I also have a love for movies – so, I own a HD projector.  As a result, I have a big video wall where I play video games.  Sitting right infront of that wall is my exercise bike.  Most mornings, I am on the bike for about an hour playing video games & biking away.
  2. I work ahead — back during my teaching career I had a lot on my plate.  I balanced teaching with being a ‘dorm parent’ at a residential school.  So, my days often went from 6:45a-10:30p with a small break from 3:30-5:30.  As a result, I figured out pretty quickly that if I was going to adequately teach my courses, I’d need to plan my lessons on my own time & way in advance.  Now, as a Graduate Hall Director, this translates to doing quarterly reports & other such written work early – as opposed to procrastinating and doing things last minute.
  3. I take micro-breaks — I love watching movies & tv shows.  Lunchtime is a perfect opportunity to watch a 30 min tv show.  I love coming home, spending 15 min cooking something fun for lunch & then sitting down to watch Modern Family or some such 30 min tv show.  Mentally, it allows me to take a serious break, physically – I’m totally relaxed & eating.  Emotionally, as the introvert that I sometimes am, this allows me to re-stock on my energy to prep for the rest of the day.
  4. Say no — I don’t do this often.  But, sometimes I just have to say no.  Usually, I say no to myself more than saying no to others.  “Should I work a little longer to get this project done? No, it’s not due for another three weeks, go take a break & do it tomorrow.”
  5. Plan ahead — this is the secret to my success.  Most folks just don’t get how well this works for me.  It’s crucial.  I know that my semester will be crazy busy once I get to TPE.  I know that March/April are going to be blitzed with follow up phone interviews, campus interviews, & discerning which position will be best for me.  So, that big paper that is due at the end of the term — yes, it’s already researched & outlined.
  6. Let things go — I wish I was posting a amazing photo on this blog every day.  I wish I was posting a great recipe once a week.  I wish I was posting cool blog entries 2x a week that had 30-40 readers each time.  These are three lofty & wonderful goals that I’m letting go to the way-side.  My job right now is to focus on my GHD role in ResLife and my studies for my Masters program.

Ok- that’s 6 steps that help me.   Going back to the quote at the top though, what really inspires me is when I see those professionals around me (and on Twitter) exercising great balance — I want to (and often do) reach out to them and say “Thank you for role modeling healthy behavior!”  I applaud those folks who do go take care of themselves, go on their weekly date nights with their partners, go home at 5p when they need it, take the needed vacation…etc.

So- my closing thoughts.  1) Prioritize what you want to do & do it. 2) Compliment someone around you for demonstrating balance. 3) Take time to reflect about what you do well & make sure that your personal balance is one of those things.  Finally 4) remember, no one else can tell you how to keep yourself in balance.

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