Ever since I left university, my life has been one big roller coaster ride. I had some great adventures and worked with amazing people all over the world — from a nowhere town in Belgium to New York, Los Angeles and Toronto.
For years I have been promising myself that after this project I will be taking a break, but there was always another opportunity I couldn't pass up.
The longer I carry on, the more I realize going all-in on our your career throws the rest of your life out of balance.
I keep seeing those around me forced into inactivity by burnouts, so I’d rather take a break now while I can enjoy it.
It is time to celebrate the victories and find a place for the losses.
Time to invest in me.
So What’s the Plan?
Over the years I’ve found that, for me, there are three elements for a balanced and happy life.
- Making an impact : For most people this happens at work. Being able to make a difference is a great way to feel fulfilled.
- Being healthy : Not just physical, but also mental health.
- Good relationships. Friends, family and maybe even that extra special person.
Each of these is equally important and also requires an equal investment of time and effort.
There is a direct relationship between the three; once you neglect one it will impact the others.
The goal is to try to find a healthy balance in life. Not just this year, but for the rest of my life.
I don’t really know what I will be doing this. To not have a goal or purpose might actually be the scariest part of all of this.
What I won't be doing is taking a year-long trip around the world. That seems like running away to me; it is time to stand my ground and confront all the issues that need to be addressed.
Making an impact.
The nature of my work means working on other peoples’ projects, support them and building frameworks for them to thrive in. This is something I love doing and gives me a lot of satisfaction. Taking a break however, means not doing this for a whole year.
This year I want to solely focus on personal growth and my own projects. Time to do all those things I always said I would, but never found the time. Learn new skills, get inspired and be creative. It could be a podcast, writing, music or just meeting up with inspiring people.
My definition of the ultimate luxury : working single-focused on a passion project without deadlines or any expected (financial) results.
My health has never been my priority, even though I am living with a chronic illness. I believe in the last years I’ve had to reschedule one out of four appointments for my medication because I prioritized work. This won't be happening anymore and I already have a full check-up planned.
Eating a more balanced diet is something I’ve been working on for a while now. The biggest change so far has been to only drink water and I’m trying to cut out sugars. This always will be an ongoing process where I slowly try to change my habits.
While being more active is high on my list of priorities, I don't have any athletic or weight goals. No marathons for me; I just want to feel healthy.
In terms of mental health I have my own emotional labor to do (ask your feminist friends for the exact definition). Dealing with your own emotions is not something that comes naturally to most people, men specifically. I hope that by not running away from it, I can make at least some progress.
This will be for me the hardest part. Not having a home base for years, nor knowing where it is going to be in the future, makes it really hard to establish long-lasting relationships.
On top of that, my personality type is INTJ which means I am just too awesome at being by myself. Most of the time I even prefer it over company.
I’ve been investing time in making sure my closest friends stay close, but most people are so busy maintaining their established group of friends they don't need another weirdo.
As for that special person, I believe I can only focus on being the best version of myself I can be, so the next time someone exceptional comes around I will be ready.
This isn’t an impulse decision, but part of a process that started years ago. A whole year might sound like a lot, but these are important and hard challenges. Balancing the scales in the total opposite direction for a while will hopefully enable me to catch up in learning new habits and insights.
I have no doubt that investing in yourself is the best investment you can make, and will pay off in the long run with better results in my professional life.