The alarm rang at 4:55am, my mind immediately swirling with justification. “I could get up this early to answer emails, but Bee woke up so many times last night and I’m just … exhausted. She’ll sleep better tomorrow,” I think, rolling over and snuggling back under the duvet.
Tomorrow — of course — will be the same alarm, a different excuse. “If I’m tired, I’ll be of no use to my family later.” And the next day: “My day is too full; I need the extra sleep.” And: “I’m still catching up from a busy weekend.” Or: “I think I’m getting sick.”
My default excuses arrive before my brain is fully awake — before the practical parts of my mind have risen, ready to reason that the good always outweighs the hard. And therein lies the very root of my goal block: myself.
We all tend to be our own worst enemies, listening to inner lies and dialogues that have taken up residence since early childhood. They’re difficult to silence, and often keep us from setting goals in the first place. If we don’t even show up, we can’t possibly fail. And why shoot for the moon when our track record has shown that we can’t muster up the motivation to step aboard the rocket?
These are the very fears that I silenced last January when I made a commitment to seek a more meaningful work/life balance. As executive editor of a women’s lifestyle site, I’m constantly juggling multiple hats and switching gears throughout the day — answering emails, assigning articles, hosting conference calls and art directing photo shoots. It’s an easy way to feel harried and frenzied, cramming 4500 things into a brief, 6-hour window — the window that I created to carve out more time with my growing toddler.
There were many adjustments to be made on the “work” front: delegating more of my current load, outsourcing administrative tasks, expanding our editorial team, saying “No” to more interviews and collaborations. But it seemed there were many more to be made on the “life” front: releasing the guilt when the house wasn’t cleaned, planning intentional activities with my daughter, asking for help, streamlining dinner hour, carving out time for yoga daily. These minor changes were adding up to a big shift in my life, but they didn’t come without cost: a much earlier wake-up call.
In my mind, I know the incredible benefits of my 4:55 alarm setting. I know that once I do the work by pulling myself out of bed and into the shower far before the sun rises, things run smoother. I have more time for my thoughts to sink in, more time for the white space to settle. More time for kitchen dance parties with my daughter. I do — however — have less time for social activities (I’ve been known to fall asleep on the sofa after a dinner party — I know.) I have less time to binge-watch Netflix shows, less time to surf Pinterest late at night. And that’s where my balance begins to teeter, throwing my stride off just enough to plummet me to the other side.
This is where I give up. This is the part where I shift my focus away from my own goal – the balance that works for me — and instead, begin to covet the shiny goals of those around me. He has time to make his own hummus? She’s throwing an Oscar party? They saved enough money for an Icelandic getaway?
And of course this is when I give up. Of course this makes complete sense. Balancing is hard enough, but it’s virtually impossible when our eyes are shifting to and fro, causing our body to fall in step (and off the tightrope completely). Goals are little more than a practice of trial and error, back and forth. There will be mornings of joyful, energetic 4:55am wake-up calls. Mornings of sleepily hitting multiple snooze buttons. Mornings of complete, throw-the-covers-over-my-head laziness.
But I find it fitting that — for objects to be balanced – they have to weigh the same. The good needs to carry the same weight as the hard, the work boasting the same volume as the life. Energy on one side, rest on the other. Running and crawling. Committing and re-committing. After all, the wise words of Albert Einstein read: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Here’s to moving, friends. Here’s to showing up for our goals, embracing our missteps and celebrating the weight of the good, the great and the oh-so-hard.
Here’s to reaching for our goals, but sometimes hitting the snooze button instead.