It’s hard to describe, but you know when you have it and feel it. Your day moves along well. You think clearly. Say the right things. There’s spring in your step and you look forward to whatever happens. You see the lighter side and don’t take things personally. In short, you are balanced!
I retired in October 2014. After working in finance, accounting, and nonprofit management for 38 years I just didn’t have the same energy to pour into work. Not getting any younger, there were other things to do. I spent the next year becoming a certified trainer and USATF run coach, focused on my own training, and worked part-time at a local running store. All this was fun, new, invigorating, educational, and a challenge. But it turned out to be a sabbatical, as a year later I returned to my job, for good reasons – the people, role, and mission.
I was sure in the interim I had learned something about balance and would do a better job of pacing myself. And for certain stay very engaged in running-related things. Good intentions! However, upon returning I quickly inherited a backlog of projects as well as new things coming in the door. Within several months, it was back to feeling behind, rushed, and drawn into the crisis of the day. Not a sustainable path. But I hadn’t returned simply to retire again in six months. There were things to do and knew I could do them.
Everyone hits this wall. If we are at all driven, and most people I know are, there is always more to do than time to do it. So what to do? For me, I am finding six things crucial:
1. Protect, with a passion, space to run and train. For those of us with running in our DNA, there is nothing like a run on the river with the sun rising! It helps to keep things in perspective throughout the day.
2. Sufficient rest and eating habits. For me, this means an early-to-early routine and planning ahead for meals. I have always been a morning runner so getting to bed before I’m exhausted is the first step towards a solid a.m. workout.
3. Pour enthusiasm and creativity into what I do, be that work, training, or volunteer and social activities. At the end of day, I need to feel I moved things forward, with some element of grace and unique contribution.
4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! The time management experts say there is never enough time to do the wrong things. They are right!
5. Plan ahead for post-work activities – meet friends, go to a show or ball game, bike along the river, read, write, contemplate.
6. Dedicate time for run coaching, writing, and research. This was the intent of Run Strategies and getting back to it is crucial. I’ve been running nearly 40 years and have learned some things along the way. It’s fulfilling to give back. In particular, the area of aging and performance – my own and others — intrigues me. Having let the RS blog go dormant is a clear sign of imbalance. With this post, I’m reengaged!
That’s my list – yours will be different. Perhaps you’ll find it useful to create one. It’s helped me focus on what’s important – a key step to regaining balance. The reality is balance is an elusive, never static goal. If we’re there one day, it can be gone the next. So what to do? For me, it’s checking my list!