When What You ‘Do’ Becomes Who You ‘Are’ – Creating a Work-Life Balance

When What You ‘Do’ Becomes Who You ‘Are’
I’ve recently returned from 2 weeks of leave. Woo hoo! Part of it was simply relaxing at home and also a few nights away with family. Given that we had not been away together since October 2019 (#becausepandemic!) it was so great to leave our four walls and our postcode together again to get some personal and family time in and to finally get back to creating a work-life balance.

Outside of enjoying quality family time there’s another reason why I believe that getting away and taking intentional downtime away from your business is so important…

As someone who LOVES their work and clients it is so easy for the lines of who I am and what I do to blur – especially as an entrepreneur. My work is fun – not always easy, but genuinely something I enjoy. I most often wake up and go to bed thinking about my work in some way.

Despite having strict boundaries around times that I engage in social media, marketing activities, answering email, and show up for my clients and communities, it’s still very easy to move from loving the work you do to being consumed and feeling stress or overwhelm (or becoming it!).

In fact, a few years ago – I had to take a 6 week break from my business as I realised my identity had become completely tangled up in my work. As a result – not only was I feeling burnt out, but I had also become quite insular and isolated from the rest of the world. There was me, my family and my work. Friendships, socialising and personal health priorities had slowly all fallen away so much more than I realised…

I felt like my ‘primary self’ was Amanda the mother, wife and ‘Reiki Lady’.

The untangling over those 6 weeks (and beyond) from such a deep loss of self was at times painful – but very necessary. And I’m beyond grateful for the many skills I’ve accumulated over the past 20 years and access to a fantastic coach – both of which helped me navigate my way back to living my life and honouring my whole self in a more balanced way.

Because who we are should not be determined by the work we do – even if we LOVE that work.

So, back to my vacation – despite having an acute awareness of this phenomena and the full experience of completely losing myself to my work in the past – it was super interesting to notice the thoughts that arose in the first few days of my time off.

Thoughts of needing to be ‘doing’, helping others, being “productive” and being of service. My mind was jumping ahead to when I returned from leave…

So many stories when the busyness stopped! I love that as we learn these things about ourselves we can be in the place of the curious observer, noticing and acknowledging the stories and thoughts without letting them take over. I was quickly able to jump straight into some journaling and self healing to look at what was hiding underneath.

To re-centre and re-focus my energy.

Most profoundly I was able to recognise and remember that when we have experienced excessively busy or intense times (such as the past month of lockdowns and storms here in Melbourne) we can lean further into ‘the busy’ as a way of feeling some sort of control over our lives and experiences. We fall back into the fight, flight and flee response as our nervous system tries it’s best to support us.

From here – when the quiet, the slow and the ‘stop’ come – we are forced to look at and respond to all the healing needs that were pushed aside at the time. And it can be deeply uncomfortable.

As I come back from the 2 weeks away, I know moving forward that implementing some mini-breaks into life – like I used to do pre-pandemic is something that is really essential. So that we can look at this ‘stuff’ in smaller chunks and implement any necessary self-care or support sooner rather than later.

Personally, I’ve put in place some additional healthy self-care strategies like daily meditation, weekly self-healing and white space into my schedule that will be non-negotiable as we return to the school term and the busyness of life here in Melbourne.

What do you need to re-align and slow down right now?

If it’s been a while since you have been able to pause the busyness of life and entrepreneurship – you might like to ponder the following journaling prompts:

  • When was the last time you took an extended period of time (a week or more) where you weren’t working or supporting others with your work?
  • What might you find arise if there is space to feel into and listen to what the ‘doing’ and business are not there?
  • What boundaries can you put in place to ensure that there is a separation between who you are and what you do?
  • What white space can you create in the week ahead to reflect on your energy and your alignment in your life and work?
  • If there was nothing standing in your way, what boundary would you implement right now in your business to support your energy (and how can you add it to the top of your to-do list?)

I also share a powerful 3 step process that can help you to increase your self-awareness with ease and navigate these exact moments that we go through as entrepreneurs – it’s perfect if you feel like the boundaries between who you are and what you do could be re-assessed so that you can find more moments of calm. You can find it here.

Amanda xx

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