As we move into a new year, there will be plenty of banter about losing weight, exercising more and just generally trying harder. However, I believe the healthiest goal is to adopt balance in our lives. To that end, I encourage you to cultivate and celebrate your authentic self in the New Year.
Here are steps you can take to get started:
- Stop and take a moment to reflect on your life. Are there situations where you feel you are not being true to yourself? You will probably find they are depleting your energy, perhaps even bleeding over into other areas of your life. Be mindful of how those situations make you feel, then envision how you might make changes to bring your life into better alignment.
Be honest with yourself and others. By that I mean, be honest about how you are doing. Are you enjoying life? Are you feeling stressed or depressed? Does your work and home environment satisfy you? Are you handling your emotions in a balanced, healthy way? If not, I encourage you to ask for help from friends, loved ones, supportive colleagues or an expert to create a life where you can thrive.
I experienced burnout several years ago and confided in my supervisor. Together we took practical steps to address the danger. I saw a therapist. We hired someone full time to help with the workload. Instead of viewing this as a sign of weakness, my law firm viewed it as an opportunity for professional development.
Take care of yourself and strive for balance. Self-care can go hand in hand with connecting to your authentic self. That said, it can be difficult to prioritize self-care when your life is a constant juggling act. However, I feel strongly that we must become advocates for our own health and well-being.
Maybe that means setting aside time to do yoga or meditation or taking time for activities with friends and family. The demands of our lives may leave us feeling like we’re a ball in a pinball machine, and that it’s out of our control, but that’s not true. No matter the circumstances, we can be proactive and strive to make healthy choices.
- Build genuine relationships. Take some time to know the people around you and let them get to know you. Nurture your relationships with your spouse and family, your friends and neighbors, your work colleagues. It’s easy to be pulled into the whirlwind of our busy lives, but it can leave us feeling isolated.
- Create a support network. The healthy relationships you’ve built can also provide you with support when you need it most. Your spouse and family may be a cornerstone of that network, but it’s helpful to have a trusted colleague who can counsel you through difficult circumstances at work, or a friend who understands and offers unconditional love even when times are tough. A problem shared is a burden relieved. Compassion and resiliency are built by reaching out and connecting with people in ways that are both pleasurable in good times and supportive in challenging moments.
Establish boundaries. Healthy boundaries help us achieve balance in our lives. There’s a perception in the working world that you must be available 24/7 to be the go-to person, integral to your organization and, ultimately, on the fast track to success. Frankly, the opposite is true, because the lack of boundaries causes us to perform at a diminished level and increase the risk of burning out.
Boundaries are equally important in our personal lives, whether that involves people we are uncomfortable around, topics we don’t want to discuss or situations that are potential triggers. Here, it’s important to protect ourselves. Doing so may be awkward in the short run, but setting the right boundaries is an essential part of self-care and authenticity.
- Be compassionate to yourself. We are our own worst enemy. Forgo the self-flagellation in favor of kindness towards yourself. Positive self-talk goes a long way not only in improving your self-esteem but also in your approach to others in your life.
There are many ways to better understand and connect with your authentic self. Once you do, you will feel a burden lift and experience a more fulfilling life. I wish you a happy and healthy New Year full of meaning and possibilities!
By Kelli Grant, MS, CRC