I bet you have heard something along the lines of “You need to make sacrifices to succeed in life” or “We all need to sacrifice something to get what we want,” or maybe “You need to sacrifice your hobbies to be a successful business owner.”
Yeah, I have heard them too, and you know, they are somewhat right, but I think they use such a horrible language to express a beautiful concept.
You see there is no need to suffer and let go of the things you love to get ahead in your career or grow your business. That would suck, mainly because you work to create the life you want.
But those phrases talk about something beautiful: Setting your priorities straight.
Didn’t sound beautiful to you? Ok, let me elaborate.
When your priorities are crystal clear, you know precisely what you need to be doing at any point in time. It doesn’t matter if it’s work or play, you know that it’s helping you achieve your goals in one way or another.
Imagine this: You have been working hard for a few hours and know that you have made good progress on your projects, then you head to rest, perhaps read a good book or play a video game you like.
You feel completely at ease while doing this leisure activity. No worries, no guilt. You planned that downtime for you to feel better.
Wouldn’t you love something like that?
Let’s get you to that point.
It all starts with why
Before you rush off to create the perfect day on your calendar, let me save you a few headaches that I experienced. Rushing to change your routine and assign new priorities is most certainly going to lead to failure.
Instead, I want you to have a clear and powerful reason to do this change. In other words, you have to answer the question: “Why do I want to change my routine? Why do I want to change my priorities?”
Please, read them out loud and make particular emphasis on the word “want.”
Because no matter how much you are excited about my example above, or the dozen of entrepreneurs you admire, you need to have a compelling reason to change.
Your answer needs to give you energy and feel amazing as if you were ready to fight the biggest dragon with utmost confidence that you will emerge victorious from that battle.
You will notice it’s the right answer when your body tells you when you feel you want to start moving. That’s when you have your golden nugget!
If you are struggling with this part, you can use some media to help out. For example, some of my favorite songs from the games I love (like this one, this one, or this one), help me feel the right way and remind me of why I do what I want. I know, it’s such a nerd thing to do, but it works for me. I bet there is one song that makes you feel powerful, listen to it!
Once you discover your reason, I want you to write it down and stick it somewhere where you can see it every day. And if you are using my music trick, remember to listen to the song every now and again.
Follow with a solid plan for achieving balance
I have said it an insane amount of times before, but you are not a machine; you can’t work 14 hours a day and feel amazing at the same time. It doesn’t happen!
You need to balance your needs and have time to relax and process the events of the day. It’s part of your self-care, you need to have fun activities included in your routine.
It’s also very easy to do too much play and not enough work. That’s why you need to check with your reason and decide for yourself how much time you want to devote to your goals and how much time you need to relax.
Your reason will help you set your priorities straight and make this process so much easier.
However, when you start setting your relaxing activities, I want you to move away from those that give you no real value in your life. Things like losing all your time watching a show that it’s not even fun to watch or checking video game playthroughs (Damn you, youtube and twitch).
Instead, you should replace those low-quality activities with high-value entertainment. You know, things that help you feel more creative, energized or more relaxed. For example, playing a video game, playing a musical instrument, calling some friends over and playing a board game, reading that inspiring novel you have, etc.
Those examples are just to spark your creativity. I know that they are geared towards geeks like me. It’s ok, just choose something that makes you feel energized and run with it.
Prioritize your sleep!
Sleep is so important that it gets its own section.
I’m the first to admit that I can focus so intensely on a book, game, show or project that I completely forget that I should be stopping to get some sleep.
And yeah, it may sound somewhat stoic to say that you were up all night researching or working, but in reality, you are just admitting that your health is not important to you.
Sleep deprivation hurts you far more than you realize. It destroys your willpower, makes you feel like a train ran you over, removes the time your body heals itself and may even shrink your brain!
Take it from a former night owl. A good night of restful sleep will make you more productive than all the coffee cups in the world, and it will prepare you to change your routine.
Time to test your plan, a week in the trenches
By now you know that I love to test things before committing a ton of resources to a new plan. And we are going to follow that same tradition here. I want you to try your new priorities for a week, only then you will know if you can achieve balance.
One important thing to note is that the first few days will feel incredibly hard. That’s because you are changing a substantial part of your routine. It’s ok, try to stick with it as best as you can. You don’t need to do it perfectly.
And speaking of that, keep notes on the things that are working well for you. If some of your ideas are performing better than expected, take a note and see how you can apply those lessons to other parts of the plan.
On the other hand, if something is not working at all, consider changing it; but first, ask yourself: Why this particular activity is not working? You may find a clue or lesson that can help you improve your plan.
Little by little, you will start refining your routine into something that supports all your goals and keeps you healthy.
On to victory!
Once you have tested your plan and have found ways to improve it, it’s time to double down and form those new habits.
One of the best ways you can motivate yourself to stick to this new routine is to journal. Write down how you are feeling and what obstacles you are facing.
If you need extra support, you can talk to other in the journey, or if you are like me, you can use technology to support you in your quest. I use Habitica to stick to my routine and have a friendly support group that is also doing the same thing.
And remember, you are not a machine! You need to take care of yourself, and I promise, your work will feel a lot lighter and your life will be a lot brighter.