One of my biggest struggles is balancing priorities. Between making a good impression at work, seeing my friends, training for 2 marathons a year, and on top of that studying for my actuarial exams (each sitting requires 300-500 hours of study!), sometimes I question if I can do it all. Exams have never come easy to me, and sometimes it is so difficult seeing my friends live their glamorous non-study-filled lives.
I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I feel I’ve gotten closer to finding balance. It took a lot of reflection and shifting my way of thinking. I’m now more committed than ever to continue down my path in pursuing all these goals. I truly believe all this hard work will pay off and help me achieve what I want from life. Yes things are CRAZY, but isn’t that what makes life worth it?
This post is to share what I’ve learned so far in hopes of helping those who may be going through crazy times and feel totally overwhelmed like I do sometimes. For those who question if their fitness/career/personal goals are worth it, I hope this can shed some inspiration. As always, please take what I say with a grain of salt – I’m in my early 20s and luckily don’t have anyone leaning on me. This is what works for ME, and I hope everyone can find what works for them.
- Figure out what’s in your control – I remember when I had to pull my first late nights for my job; I was MISERABLE. I complained, hated life, and told all my friends I was definitely quitting…drama queen much? What has made everything so much more positive was realizing what’s in my control, and what’s not. I sometimes can’t control how late I work, but I can control how I treat people, how I think, and what I do with my remaining time. Now, I’m so much more at ease when work gets crazy, seeing it as opportunities for growth and fostering relationships.
- Viewing this chapter of life as a sacrifice – This was one piece of advice from my brother who’s in grad school pursuing a PhD. Not an easy task. He said that he views grad school right now as a sacrifice: working hard/not making money in effort to have more opportunities in the future. And when you view your situation as a sacrifice, then the little, happy moments seem that much happier. I really loved this mindset. Every weekend I give up plans to stay in and hit the books, or when I leave a party early because of my long run the next morning – it’s all in pursuit of achieving a better life in the future.
- Targeting productive times of the day – I am an extreme morning person. It’s when I can think the most clearly and be the most productive. With that said, I usually try and fit in my run AND study time before work because I know my brain will be fried afterwards. It’s not easy waking up before the sun, but it’s key to figure out when you’re most productive and making use of that time.
- Stop comparing with others – My outlook took a 180 when I stopped comparing my life to my friends’. What helped was talking to some close ones and realizing that NO ONE has it together and everyone has their set of struggles. Social media only shows the highlights of everyone’s life; realizing this helped me appreciate the ups and downs of my own.
- Sending positive energy towards the little things – Sometimes the only human interaction I get in a day is talking with the cashier at the grocery store. Being pleasant and making the most of these little moments can really turn your day around!
- Compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize – One thing I’m working on this exam season is not letting studying be this huge black cloud over my head for months and months. When I run, I’ll focus on running. When I work, I’ll focus on work. When I’m at dinner with friends, I’ll focus on our conversation and the yummy food. Then study time will be study time. I’m aiming to take things day by day, to not think about a dreadful task until it’s time to do it, and to remember that things are never as bad as they seem :).
- Putting health first – When things get tough, it’s easy to stop caring about what you eat, how much you sleep, and how you treat yourself. Little things like starting off the morning with 5 minutes of stretching and reducing caffeine (I’ve been drinking more tea vs coffee lately!) have made a huge difference in my attitude throughout the day.
- Believe in yourself – Last but not least. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Don’t quit. Don’t take the easy way out. It WILL be worth it. Finding strength starts with believing in yourself. It took me a long time to reach this point of thinking, but I now truly believe I can reach my goals, and if not, I will never regret giving it my all 🙂