It’s important to have fun. We all need to take time to enjoy life and all the great things about it. If we just focus on working and forget to take time for fun, we run into living a life that is unbalanced and can even become unhealthy.
This is often what happens: we get into our routines and get stuck into doing specific things everyday. Then this becomes such a pattern that time just flies by and before we know it, months have passed and we have not taken proper time away from our responsibilities and work. Having a routine is essential to living a productive life, but having (making) time to enjoy all that you work for is equally important.
We should work hard. Productivity is part of life and as long as we are physically and mentally capable of working, we need to embrace this. Often we are misled to believe that we work too hard. While this can be true, especially if we are out of balance, we really should not run from hard work or expect life to be easy. We have to work to live and should take a certain amount of pride in doing so.
This high drive for work ethic is an important model for our children, friends, family, and complete strangers. We must shut down the entitlement message that comes across in the media today. This notion that you “deserve it,” “you don’t have to work for it,” “things should just be given to you,” is hurting our well-being and community. We have to get up, get to work, and be productive.
But on the other side of hard work, there is fun and play. When you really work hard and get things done, you then have to carve out time to relax, rejuvenate, and rest. If you don’t make time for play and rest, you will get burned out and feel like you aren’t enjoying life. While life is about production, it is also about finding time to spend with loved ones, fulfilling personal goals and hobbies, traveling, and just taking good care of ourselves.
Basically, we are talking about balance. Everything we do in life requires a balancing act, including the time we take to enjoy the benefits of our hard work. If any part of our life is out of balance, we do end up feeling the consequences. While it may be difficult to maintain a healthy balance, we still have to try.
When you have produced and accomplished some goals, work in some fun. Here are some ways to practice a more balanced approach to working hard and playing harder:
- Set your goals and stick to them. Without goals, you cannot celebrate achievements. Establish realistic goals, with timelines, and as you reach these goals you will feel better about taking time away from work to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You cannot play and have fun if you have not set up goals and have been working to achieve them. Work hard to play even smarter. (Click here to learn more about setting goals)
- Use a calendar and plan as far in advance as possible. Paper or digital, get a calendar that you like and use it. Plan out your days, weeks, months, and years. Start writing in the meetings and goals you have, and include time away for yourself, family, and friends. Yes, it may seem awkward to include “fun time” in your schedule, but this is one way to enforce a balanced lifestyle. Write in all of your life activities and set reminders to assist you to remember them and get them done.
- Create checkpoint milestones and set up rewards. Goals must be realistic and have a timeline, which also means that they must have checkpoints. As you progress through specific goals and achieve success, mark it down. Establish some rewards for these checkpoints. For example, if you are organizing your home and get one room completed, this is success! If you are working on your resume and get the education section updated and completed, this is also success! The rewards for your goals do not always have to be large, but they should be something that helps to motivate you to complete the entire project. Be creative!
- Watch for signs of Burnout. When we feel burned out, this is critical signal of an unbalanced lifestyle. Burnout can occur from any of our commitments, and when it does, we need to take immediate action so that it doesn’t get worse. When burnout is allowed to consume us, we make sporadic decisions that we wouldn’t make if we weren’t under this pressure. If you are starting to feel exhausted, frustrated, anxious, or even depressed, address these emotions right away. You will not be able to have any fun if you feel burned out.
- When playing, do not entertain regret. You have finally taken that well-deserved and needed vacation, and all you can think about is work and the things you should be working on. In fact, you even bring your work with you and continue “keeping up” with things when on vacation. Ok, I get it, some of our jobs require us to stay current on work flow and projects. If you absolutely must do some work on vacation or when taking time off, do as little as possible. I recommend time away from work when you have designated time to do so. This means that you are unavailable, will not be responding to emails/calls, and are not on your cell phone. Take time to decompress, and do not feel guilty about it.
- Remember the “what, why, and who” in your hard work. Are you working 60 hours a week for your family? Are you working on your college degree to earn more money in your career and to be a good example for your children? Are you taking on extra responsibilities to help with aging parents or sick relatives? Are you exercising daily and changing your eating habits to lose weight and feel healthier? These are examples of the “what, why, and who” in our DO. If we get lost in working and forget the purpose and motivation for our efforts, then we never feel a sense of relief. Sometimes the simple act of maintaining a balanced life comes from reminding ourselves of why we are doing the things we do, which is most often to live a better life. Taking time away from our work to enjoy time with the people most important to us is part of the process.
If you begin to take a serious look at your life goals as well as the path to success, you will find many ways that you can create more balance in your life and also make time to have some fun. Do not make the mistake of thinking that fun will just happen “one day.” We have to be intentional about maintaining balance of our life responsibilities and make time for the people and things that are important to us.
And when we have worked hard to reach our goals and find proper balance, playing will be even more rewarding and satisfying.