LIFESTYLE // HOW TO: Balance your passions Pt. I
I constantly get asked - "what do you do" ... for me, that is a loaded question as I'm sure many freelancers similar to me would understand because we wear an assortment of hats!
For a while I was going to school, working a part-time job, volunteering, applying for more school, and starting out my own business that you all know as Jess Undecided. PLUS, my boyfriend (for more than 5 years now) was living outside the city so I spent all my free time going to see him.
So yes, the obvious question was how did I stay motivated and maintain a balanced lifestyle? The answer was that I wasn't. I quickly realized that although I was getting by and getting everything done, I wasn't really invested whole-heartedly in a lot of the things I was doing. I began to get sick all the time and that is when I learned that I needed to start listening to my body.
Last year I took a close look at the smorgasbord of things I was trying to do and decided I needed to make a change. Somethings had to give and I had to learn to accept the fact that I could not do everything. Not only was trying to do too much effecting my health, but it was starting to negatively effect the things that I truly loved to do, which was to create content, and share my story with all you beautiful people.
When I started to notice that my motivation to create content was losing momentum I started to wonder why? I knew it wasn't because I didn't love it anymore, because I still do - with absolutely every fibre of my being. But it was because I was feeling so overwhelmed by everything else.
Truth be told, it was mostly fear that was hindering my spirit. I grew up being encouraged that I could do anything I set my mind to, but as I grew up - doubt started to creep in, and the more stories I began to hear about people who couldn't make it as a creative freelancer, the more it made me start believing that I should go find a full-time corporate job before it was too late.
I decided that I was finally finished with school, and that after this last degree, that would be it. I was originally going to pursue a post-graduate degree, but realized it wasn't the time for it ... yet :p. I had too much passion for Jess Undecided to leave it on the sidelines any longer. So when I completed my Nutrition Degree, and weekly volunteering ended - I finally had so much more time to pursue my passions.
After my trip to Italy last year, I decided to dive head first into the world that is blogging. I have yet to commit to be a "full-time blogger" as I do still work part-time, do nutrition consulting, and am getting my real estate licence (but that is NOT the same as a 5 course-load 4 year university degree). I am able to spend more than double of my time creating work that I am proud of.
This last half year has been an absolute roller coaster of a ride. From learning how NOT to be a student (it is much harder than you think!), to moving in with my boyfriend full-time, and to growing a successful business from the ground up has taught me a lot about the importance of staying motivated, and living a balanced lifestyle.
I've been asked a lot for "Blogging Tips" so I thought this would be a good post for my followers who want to pursue a similar path or for others looking for a little life balance in general :)
I've learned that for myself, the following tips have worked the best:
1. Making Lists
I have found that making lists helps clear my mind. Without them, I feel 10x more stressed than I need to be because my brain is constantly coming up with ideas and will not stop until I write them down and keep them organized. Every night I make a list on my phone of things I want to do the next day, and make a separate list for the ideas that I want to try out to see what ends up being usable.
2. Stay current with research + news
So if you were wondering ... the two degrees I have are both science based (one is in Biology w/ a Physiology Specialization, and the other is in Nutrition and Food). Reading scientifically significant research has been something engrained into my brain for the last decade and with that, linking that research to what appears in the daily news. I find a lot of my inspiration from reading these articles and opportunities to educate others about critically evaluating what you read.
It is so easy to get caught up in reading headlines because the stories are much shorter and much more easy on the eyes, but every now and then, take a step back and see where this information is actually coming from. Its usually the most obvious with nutrition headlines - a lot of the "claims" made in these stories are not actually TRUE. One study does not make this food the "CURE" for belly fat or clear skin. It's important for me to read as much as I can to make sure I know what my clients and audience might be thinking / expecting to get out of a certain nutritional change... Or hey, reading the news and fashion magazines also helps me find out what the latest fashion trends will be for the upcoming seasons.
3. Keeping an active calendar
My calendar lives on my mobile devices. I used to try to write it out in a hardcover calendar book, but it became too hard to keep track of and to update / share events without doing multiple unneeded steps. Every Sunday I make sure to go through my email inbox to make sure that I have entered everything correctly for that week in terms of meetings, events, work, grocery time, gym time, cooking time - so that I don't find myself feeling the unneeded stress of not knowing where I'm supposed to be at a given moment. Setting reminders and deadlines on my calendar has also helped me significantly - I used to use a separate app for that, but having everything in my iCal has streamlined everything for me, and might help you all out too!
4. Schedule time for yourself and your loved ones
Speaking of scheduling - I have found that being a blogger makes it almost impossible to dissociate myself from my phone. It has become a third limb where my heart stops when I forget where I put my phone for even a moment. So I've made a very conscious change recently where I will put my phone in the other room for at least a couple hours every night when Travis gets home so that we can have some quality time together, and I do the same when I spend time with my family. It is a constant struggle to turn my thoughts away from my Instagram and website because with social media - work really never ever stops!
5. Listen to your body
Sure, I work from home most of the time so I can't really give myself a "sick day". But sometimes your body and mind need a day off. I have yet to do it, but I know I will need to shortly! Plan a day off from your social media, emails, content creating. Cook yourself a nice homemade meal, watch some TV/movies, go for a bike ride, and catch up with some friends! Your body will know when it's had enough and will usually manifest itself as some sort of illness, so why not plan ahead and give our body a break before it needs to tell us!? I'm going to try to commit to one of these days once every 2 months - who's with me?!
Honestly, if there is one thing you take away from this lengthy post, is to SMILEEEE :)
Your body will thank you. If you aren't feeling it that day, just try it out, give yourself a big toothy smile and see how your body responds. For me, it gives me more energy and helps push out those negative criticisms that sometime creep into my mind when I find myself comparing my work or struggling to get everything done.
I hope that these tips will help you out as they have for me ! And stay tuned for more because its been a while since I've caught such a writing bug + I'm excited to share!!