It's easy to lose focus on the big picture when your day-to-day life consumes all your time and energy. Even when everything is running more or less on schedule, work and life come with commitments and obligations.
Guilt, frustration, confusion, and even anger are all part of the challenge of integrating work and life. Why is it so hard to keep your eyes on the prize? It's because you're constantly bouncing between priorities. And you're not alone.
Do you rarely feel like you're in the right place? When you're at work, do you feel like you should be spending more time at home, and vice versa? That's me almost every single day.
Left unchecked, fretting over your work-life balance becomes another part-time job. All of the worrying, planning, arranging, and rearranging is consuming precious time and mental energy. It can distract you from what matters most to you. Where are your goals and aspirations in all of this?
So, how can you not lose sight of your long-term goals when everything is blowing up around you?
Let some things go. Making intentional choices to shelve things that aren't priorities right now is incredibly difficult, but freeing. It's tough to say to ourselves, our friends, our causes, and our communities that those pieces in the puzzle simply don't fit right now. Doing so, however, allows you to focus on the things most important to you right now.
Know your boundaries. A couple hours in the evening and one weekend day is reasonable to set aside purely for family. Schedule your dedicated work time for each day of the week, and keep that schedule. If you set boundaries and keep them, you're less likely to second guess yourself in the moment.
Work more when you can, take more family time when you can. Even with good boundaries, opportunities come up to make little deposits of time in one bucket or the other. My kids had their first "drop off" birthday party this past weekend. I was delighted at the found quiet time and spent it napping. (Okay, maybe that wasn't particularly productive, but it felt great.) Don't pass up those opportunities.
Notice the negative self-talk, and just stop it. Consider coaching yourself as you would a friend in the same situation. You might surprise yourself to hear how often you say, "you should have done..." or "if you were just better at..." All of this adds up to big fat negative drain on your ability to think clearly and move forward. Cut it out.
And my biggest one: Feel no guilt when taking care of yourself. This isn't about sneaking in a spa day. While appealing, this common bit of advice is completely unrealistic. For me, taking care of myself is getting enough sleep, making it to my monthly girl's night dinner, running every day, periodically reminding myself of my goals. These couple of things are non-negotiable because they make everything else possible.
You absolutely can stay on track with your long-term goals while getting the day-to-day work done by changing your mindset. You can have it all, but not all at once. Adopting this view may require backing off some of your most closely held beliefs. However, the embedded wisdom will support your efforts to find that feeling of control in your daily life that you're craving. Managing today while taking the longer-term view helps keep your work-life goals in perspective.