During one of my dad’s birthdays, we got him a birthday card with Abraham Lincoln’s quote, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Everyone in my family loved that quote, and it’s a quote that we all live by.
I didn’t want my work to interrupt the rest of my life. At the same time, I wanted my work to become a fun part of my life. I want to live a life of exploration and produce meaningful work. As of writing this post, I am a freshman running on my college’s D1 team. I graduated high school as a member of the National Honor Society. I do homework and hang out with my friends like any other college student. I’m a little different though. I am a teen entrepreneur who has published 15+ books and 20+ training courses. I have written thousands of blog posts, and I’m also verified on Twitter.
From the outside, my life looks like a constant tug-of-war amongst running, homework, friends, writing content, creating videos, reading, hobbies, and family. I take all of these people and activities seriously. I didn’t sacrifice my work (stop growing my brand, fail my classes, etc.) to find more time for my personal life, and I didn’t sacrifice my personal life (drop out of college, cut off family and friends, etc.) to pursue my work.
The work-life balance is possible for anyone. The people who tell you it’s impossible simply don’t know how to make it happen. That’s why they conclude the work-life balance is impossible.
Get Clear On What You’re Doing And When
Although I mentioned a variety of people and activities that earn portions of my time, I am clear on what I intend to do with my time. At the end of each day, I’ll plan out the following day and fit in everything that I want to do. I identify the exact timeframe that I will commit to each activity and group of people.
For instance, weekday practices start at 7:30 am. If I decide I want to practice at 1:00 pm every day, I won’t be on the team for very long. It’s very clear what I’ll be doing at 7:30 am on weekdays.
A practice time is set in stone, but other activities like writing blog posts are not set in stone. It’s my choice to determine when I write the blog posts. My choice was to eliminate my choice. I have a structured schedule similar to a high school schedule that tells me which activities to focus on and when to focus on them. I use gaps in the schedule to spend time with my family and friends.
Giving yourself too many choices for your next activity will overwhelm you and result in analysis paralysis. It’s much easier to create a schedule and identify what you’ll do and when you’ll do it.
Do A Little Bit Each Day
Every day, I do a little bit of all of the activities I mentioned. I also spend a little bit of time each day with family and friends. While I don’t split my time amongst every person and task equally, I address them all each day. Addressing any activity or person every day eventually turns addressing them into a habit.
I don’t feel overwhelmed as I juggle running, family, friends, school work, and entrepreneurial work because I’ve done it for so long that it feels like an effortless habit.
In my analysis of everything I do, did you notice what I didn’t include? I didn’t mention playing video games, watching TV, surfing the web, or distracting myself in any way.
I only participate in activities that make me active. Writing a blog post makes me active while watching TV makes me passive. I don’t want to watch life happen. I want to make things happen. If I distracted myself with TV and other activities of that nature while trying to hold up my current life, my life would be a mess.
At the most in a given week, I’ll surf the web for an hour, watch four hours of TV, and play no video games (I don’t play video games at my house anymore). All distractions are temporary pleasures that create a temporary escape. I don’t want to temporarily be happy. I want to be permanently happy. Focusing my time on the activities and people that matter to my well-being allows me to be happier for a longer period of time.
EMC — Every Minute Counts
I live by a motto to make every minute count. This motto is partly based on Abraham Lincoln’s quote of making every year count instead of counting the years. I choose to make every minute count because, in reality, every minute does count.
The worldwide average life expectancy is 71 years. That’s 37,317,600 minutes. Can you afford to waste any of those minutes doing things that make you unhappy or derail you from your work-life balance? I sure can’t. That’s why I only pursue the work that I love and spend time with the people who make me happy. At some point, we all learn that every minute counts. Some people already know this truth while others learn when it’s too late. I don’t want you to be someone who learns that every minute counts when you don’t have as much time to utilize.
You don’t balance your work and your life because you love one and hate the other. You balance them because you enjoy yourself when working and when you’re not working. In other words, you enjoy every second of your life.
It’s possible for anyone to master the work-life balance. Mastery of this balance begins with a stronger awareness for how we use our time and what we truly want to do with our time. Do you want to be known as the person who watched a lot of TV shows, or do you want to be known as the person who accomplished many things in his/her life while spending time with loved ones? Do you want to be known as the successful businessman or businesswoman who cut off his friends and family, or do you want to be known as the successful businessman or businesswoman who was loved by his family and friends?
Don’t think of reasons why the work-life balance won’t work. Think of reasons why it will work and envision yourself mastering the work-life balance. Truly assess your life and make decisions that will get you moving in the right direction. Nothing clears up uncertainty as much as action.
Originally published at medium.com