Work and workouts. Constantly at odds. Battling for attention like competitive siblings. I wouldn’t be happy without both of them. Too much work, and I feel unhealthy, sluggish and unfocused. Too much exercise, and I feel tired and my mind begins to wander, undoubtedly unfulfilled by all the mileage. Yes, this is the essence of finding balance in your life. Those two (or three, or four) things that make you so happy. If you tip too far in one direction, though, everything suffers and life feels out of control.
It is a great luxury to have any control over your schedule in this world of 24/7 connectivity. You are always expected to be near your smartphone, ready to respond. Young lawyers also tend to be very hungry, and are overjoyed to be included in anything remotely important. But, it’s crucial to be protective of at least some of your time, especially if whatever it is you like to do helps you feel refreshed, re-energized, happy and efficient.
Set Clear Goals
Without very clear and very ambitious goals, I become bored, lethargic, somewhat detached and I eat Nutella at an alarming rate. Actually, whenever any part of my life falls out of balance, I eat Nutella at an alarming rate. It’s a great motivator to keep everything in check.
I set short, medium and long term goals for myself. Obviously, the short and medium term goals help me incrementally inch closer to the finish line. But it’s those long term goals that get me out of bed in the morning. The thought of crossing the finish line at an Ironman gives me chills. Daydreaming about achieving certain professional goals makes me very emotional.
When I’m grinding it out on my bicycle, I picture myself on the course of a tough race, and I think specifically about how it will feel to finish that race. When I’m having a tough day, I sit in my office and think, with as much specificity as possible, what it will feel like to someday win an important case.
Finding and achieving perfect balance is, in my opinion, impossible. You are always re-adjusting and re-evaluating. Some days, I have to get up at 5 am or earlier because work is starting early and I have bar association meetings all night. You simply have to accept that some days you’re going to be completely exhausted, and some days you won’t be able to fit it all in. And then on other days, I can find hours for my training.
The only real truth in our national quest to find balance is that balance is totally unachievable. Instead, it’s the ebb and flow of our lives that we must accept. Acceptance of this fact makes goal-setting an even more important priority. As I get pulled in all sorts of different directions, I always have my goals to keep me centered.
Pick the things that set your heart and mind ablaze, but be limber enough to stretch and move with the rhythm of your world. I know when I need to be at the office, I know what workouts I need to do. But I am not rigid when it comes to getting these things done. Emails at 630 am? Sure. Workouts at 9 pm? Sure. I have to make detours and u-turns on my daily path, but I get to my destination.