If you watched our video on Happy Balance Planners or you have one in hand and have read the introduction, then you know a little about how Sherbert Shop started. It was from a place of pure love for all things paper goods and also from the desire to create something together from the ground up. Jordan is and always has been an entrepreneur at heart. He started his first business at 16 and hasn’t been without his own company since. It was something that I have always admired about him and also something that inspired me to take the leap into the small business world and use my passions to bring creative ideas into existence.
Our planners, in particular came out of a pure survival mode for me. I started graduate school in the Fall of 2010 and combined that with working remotely full time and taking on a graduate research position (couldn’t say no to a free education!). Needless to say, it was A LOT! I was racing from one class/meeting to the next, coming up for air only as a necessity but not because I actually had time. I kept myself going by saying it was only temporary but it was suffocating. I felt guilty if I went out to dinner with friends, I made travel plans and then let them fall through in the name of another paper or another work project and ultimately, I landed myself in the world of high anxiety. My friends would comment on how crazy it was that I was juggling everything, getting things done and making it all work. However, only a handful of really close friends knew what it cost me. My anxiety was off the chain and it was not unusual for me to have a couple of full-blown anxiety attacks a week. Jordan would literally have to sit across from me, hold my hands and tell me to watch him breathe and mimic him. When I said the juggling act was suffocating, I meant it literally and figuratively. If one thing was added to my schedule last minute, or if I fell of the schedule by even a few minutes, I would crumble. I had everything planned so that I literally squeezed every minute out of the day but it got to the point where it squeezed every little bit out of me in return.
It was after the umpteenth panic attack that my Mom and Jordan finally got me to open my eyes, and really my ears, to the question of whether or not this was all worth it. My health was being comprised, my relationships, my work in some ways…I had lost any and all balance. It was all school and all work and when you continue to say yes to things and you pile your plate high, it’s completely natural for your immediate reaction to be devoting all of your time and energy toward school and work (or whatever you pile your plate high with). But one night, I just said enough was enough. It wasn’t worth it! I made the decision to start working from that place of chaos, anxiety and being completely overwhelmed and find a way toward balance. My happy balance!
That moment that I decided to make a true change in how I approached my work, and really my life, was about four years ago now. I wish I could say that I haven’t had a single day since where I thought I wasn’t going to pull my hair out or literally drop every single juggling ball I had in action. Those days still pop up. In fact I actually had a good cry at the beginning of the year where I told Jordan I was just drop dead tired of the PhD and I didn’t know if I could make the final push to the end. But now those are just blips in the radar. I have the moments and they remain that: moments! They don’t stay with me for days anymore and thankfully they do not result in suffocating panic attacks. They are my reminders or the warning signs from my body that I actually pay attention to now! They alert me that I’m getting off balance again and I then know that I’m at that point where taking a step back or even a break isn’t just something that would be nice but it is absolutely necessary if I don’t want to slip back into the old days and my old ways.
So that feeling and that desire to find a happy balance is what sparked the Happy Balance Planner! I found a way to manage my stress by categorizing tasks, breaking goals down into monthly and weekly todo’s, and making it my priority to not just write down the school and work things, but also things like going for a run, reading for fun, date night with Jor, lunch with my Mom or brunch with friends. I started to include those things and interactions that filled my heart with a little more joy, made me feel stronger, and ultimately gave me the fuel to power through all the other work and school related doings.
One of the most important things I’ve learned throughout this journey of finding balance is realizing that it is so unique to the individual. I truly believe that there is no one size fits all solution to finding calmness and balance. Your happy balance is just that: YOURS! I saw something the other week that said it was impossible, especially when kids enter the equation, to have balance. While we don’t have kids of our own, I have several friends with kids and friends that have just recently become new moms. The struggle to find a new balance in everyday life with kids is real! But even without kids, let’s be honest, the struggle is still there, it’s just defined in a different way with different factors. So it’s something that we can all relate to and that we have all felt, most likely. But I have chosen to believe that you can find some sense of balance. It might not be perfect, it might not happen every day, but if we can’t believe that a sense of balance can be found and met, all we are left with is a continuous, and exhausting juggling act that is sure to end and not in a good way! Who wants to go through every day, every week and month like that? It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
I thought I’d share a few things that I found helpful in my continuous journey of finding my happy balance. Here are my top 8 things that I’d be lost without!
- Write it Down. One of the easiest things you can do when you feel out of control and like you’re the rubber band man extended to the max in many directions is to simply do a brain dump. I promise, that once you unscramble it all on paper, you will automatically feel better but you’ll also be able to see it all and start figuring out how and when it can (or even should) get done.
- Plan! Don’t just jump head first into things and don’t keep goals in the big picture, lofty category. Break them down into something more manageable and plan when each step will get done. Suddenly the big ideas aren’t so scary and you can figure out how to fit what you want into your own big picture.
- Keep Your Goals Visible: You can write down your tasks, ideas, and goals all day long and you can plan them out but they do you no good if you never go back and actually look at them. Keep your plans visible! Look at them daily, remind yourself of WHY you are investing time and energy into them.
- Say NO! Oh goodness, this has been, and continues to be, the biggest challenge for me. But you just can’t be afraid to say no to something or someone when you truly don’t have the time or energy to give it your absolute all. And also don’t forget that you can even say no after you’ve said yes. I just had to do this a couple of months ago and it literally tore me up inside but I knew that I couldn’t commit or invest what I needed to and so admitting that to myself and the other party was really a gift to everybody before we got knee deep! PS: I felt ten pounds lighter after letting the commitment go!
- Invest in Your Relationships: Find the time to go on date nights with your other half, carve out special, uninterrupted time with your kiddos, have brunch with friends to talk about the good, bad and the ugly and laugh until you cry. If a friend is far away, send some surprise snail mail. All those people that make your heart sing and put a smile on your face deserve tending to! They make you better and they make you more whole and your work will only benefit from quality time with them.
- Do Something for Someone Else: I became active with my local Team in Training chapter and as much as that worked changes the lives of individuals battling cancer, it changed mine, too. Sometimes you need the reminder that the world is larger than your bubble and helping someone else that is fighting a harder battle than you, can do just that. Find a cause that has meaning to you and go out there and make a difference!
- Schedule a Trip (or Something Fun)!: We all could use something to look forward to. Maybe you schedule a trip away with a change of scenery or maybe you plan a fun staycation, but pencil (scratch that, use pen and make it permanent!) something in your planner that you can count down to and make all the hard work worth it!
- Find Time For Yourself: Just go ahead and let go of that guilty feeling or that voice that read that and laughed. If you don’t find even a few minutes a day to just breathe in peace and quiet, you’re eventually going to run out of energy and not just your work, but you will suffer. So figure out what it is that you genuinely like to do. Work out, read, cook, craft, and find something that feeds your soul and allows you to check out for a little bit.
Have you found yourself at that point of complete chaos and imbalance? Have you found yourself at the place where you don’t think you can take a single breath without dropping all the balls that you are currently juggling? Or maybe you’re in that place as you’re reading this. Share your story and share what you do to find YOUR Happy Balance!
For now, here’s to finding your happy balance!