Welcome to a new year and resolutions abound. I find that I never keep my resolutions so I have stopped making promises I know I do not intend to keep. This does not mean there are habits I should ignore or not strive to improve this year. As a mother to young children and adult step-sons I find the most difficult task is finding a healthy balance between work and life. There are scholarly articles about this very subject. I have stumbled across many social media blog pieces about estimated number of Americans who did not take a vacation day in 2014. There are those who need thrive on working. They relax while doing their job because it fulfills them. Majority of us though are working a job to get from point A to point B. Those of us working for other means are the ones who need to start using our vacation days.
This is not a good way to start another year. The holiday season is over but as parents we are already starting to plan for the next one in the back of our heads. We are seeing everything we want to give to our children and maybe even to ourselves. These ideals and material things wear heavily on us. Because if this we force ourselves to work longer hours and sacrifice our personal time as we make ends meet or try to propel our careers ahead to this imaginary place where everything will be better.
This mindset of “sacrifice now for a better future” is not real if we are constantly sacrificing now every day but never actually getting to our ideal future. Finding a healthy balance between work and life can help clear the cobwebs and may even motivate you in the areas that need better focus. There are studies that prove taking a vacation day (even just one day!) to rest and recoup makes you a better employee. There is a reason why companies give their employees vacation days. They know their employees who regularly take vacations come back recharged and better than before they left.
There are small ways to make big changes. Taking the time to get up an hour earlier in the morning to spend with your partner, children or even just reading can make a huge difference. There are articles and blogs written by people who have started these small habits and from their own personal experiences have seen the benefits of just taking small amounts of time for themselves. I have found when I have a difficult task at work and I am hitting constant road blocks that the answer comes to me when I least expect it. I have forced myself to go and play with my young children making up silly stories and just laughing with them and all of a sudden the answer to my work problem presents itself. Why? This is because I stopped stressing over it and relaxed. The endorphins cleared the clutter and I was able to think clearly without anxiety because I was calm. This also helps keep us healthy. The more leisure time and rest we give ourselves the more we are able to avoid getting sick especially during the winter months.
You do not have to start a crash diet or make unreasonable promises about going to the gym 7 days a week. Small changes make the difference. Getting up an hour earlier and playing with your kids can help your energy level. Going to bed early instead of staring at your work computer for an extra few hours while not getting anything productive done can make a difference in how well you sleep. Reading before bed can help you fall asleep faster especially if you are reading an actual book instead of a lighted screen. Small baby steps to change engrained habits is what will make a New Year’s resolution successful and make you see a difference not only in how productive you are at work but at how much you enjoy your personal time.