It’s birthday eve for me. My tradition for the past few years has been to use today as a personal new years eve of sorts. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on what’s occurred in the last year. I’ll list out milestones, lessons learned, people I’m grateful for. I also pick some areas I need to improve on in the next year because the dirty not-so-little secret is that I’m not perfect.
This past year, I was working on restoring some balance, because in the ongoing struggle between work and life, I naturally lean towards work. Truthfully, that’s the understatement of the century – this time last year, I sucked at balance. And it was no one’s fault but my own.
Last year, the area I decided to focus attention on was balance.
The caffeine consumption was impressive if not alarming. Flexing no less than 4 strong cups of black coffee everyday. Sugar-free Red Bull binges on the reg… even though I think the stuff tastes like wet dimes.
I limited sleep to 3 hours/night + 1 hour/day for about a month leading up to finals one semester. BTW, that’s a real screenshot from the alarm my phone on the left.
But the probably the most telling and comical indication that I needed to focus on balance was my severe case of “shower guilt.”
SHOWER GUILT (n.): a term coined by my peers in grad school, shower guilt describes feelings of guilt for doing anything other than your research or coursework brought on my being overwhelmed and overworked. Specifically, when that guilt becomes so rampant that even taking time to shower feels like you’re using time unwisely.
Shower guilt is real. And I’m definitely not the only one who rigged ways to keep working while showering (trust me, sharing techniques to keep the work flowing was common lunch time fodder).
These days, the shower guilt is vanquished.
Balance is a priority. I say ‘no’ to things. “A Change Would Do You Good” isn’t in the ipod rotation anymore. I only drink caffeine out of desire rather than necessity. But I can still go to sleep after a triple espresso with no problem.
I enjoy working hard – I like to be busy and I sleep well after a productive day, but I don’t let my drive to get things done prevent me from thriving. In fact, I get way more accomplished when I’m thriving. The total lack of balance was no one’s fault but my own, but I had to learn that it was a necessary priority that I had to set.
Balance is important and I’m the only one that can ensure it’s a priority.
I must have looked ridiculous washing my hair while reading research articles through a ziploc taped to the shower wall.
Restoring balance and creating a life where I could thrive personally and professional was what I was supposed to focus on last year. I think I did a pretty good job of making that happen.
It’s been a swell year. Lots of learning. Lots of change. Lots more sleep.
Not sure yet what I’ll pick to focus on over this next year. There’s no shortage of contenders. For today, I’ll keep adding to my
slightly nerdy birthday eve lists and look forward to birthday activities. Bring on the sweets and say ‘NO!’ to shower guilt, kids!