I finally did it—my dreams finally came true. After years of studying, writing, reading, and even some praying and wishing, I landed my dream job: I am officially a magazine editor in New York City. It’s been a dream of mine since I was 15 (which, of course, I wanted desperately to be an editor of Seventeen back then, but alas, things change), and I can’t help but look back and marvel at the crazy adventure it has been so far.
Of course, like every bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new employee at her first big-girl job, I thought I could “handle it all.” I mean, I’ve been practicing for this moment, right? Getting on an exercise routine, planning meals, eating healthy, etc. etc. Could it really be that hard?
Face palm. Oh yes, it’s hard, and I evidently failed. Two weeks and I hadn’t attempted one lick of exercise, ate more carbs than vegetables (more like all carbs and no vegetables), and by the weekend of my second week, all I wanted to do was order food. Cook dinner? HA. Who has the energy for that?
As I sit here reflecting on this, I decide that it’s time to go back to the drawing board. How do I even do this adulting thing, let alone tell my readers how to do it as well?
After a lot of paper-in-the-wastebasket moments, here’s what I came up with when it comes to attempting a healthy work-life balance:
When you’re “off”, you’re off
If you have a very demanding job that requires you to work a few long nights or weekends, I get it, you gotta do what you gotta do. But the moments where you don’t have to work late? Relish in them! We don’t work all day for a reason. That’s right—although you attempt to live a robot-like lifestyle where you only eat, sleep, poop, and work, your body actually can’t handle it after a while. Leaving work means LEAVING WORK. When you have those moments to unwind, you need to actually do so.
Give work your full attention when you’re “on”
This, of course, means actually giving your job 100 percent when you are actually at work. Do your job, and do it well, with as little procrastinating as possible! Doing so will only help you later when you leave the office. It will give you a sense of relief knowing that you worked hard that day, and afterward, you can head home and refresh for a busy day tomorrow.
Plan EVERYTHING in advance
And I mean EVERYTHING. It truly helps when all of your meals (and even your workout times) are planned through for each day. I like to plan out my week on Sundays before things get crazy by creating a concrete list for all three meals of the day, going grocery shopping, and prepping any meals I can. As for workouts, I plan around what I have going on each evening and literally mark in my calendar the nights I decide to workout.
Oh, just a little plug: Need some inspiration to get your week planned? I write this awesome newsletter that goes out called All Things Fit that you will LOVE. Because #planning means #winning.
Now this will look different for everyone, so what I do shouldn’t be your solution when it comes to taking a few breaks during the day. For me, I love to read on the train. I refuse to open up my phone during my commute and start popping through work emails or anything else because it’s my time to relax. Since I’m not the type of person to take breaks while I’m actually working (I tend to just get things done when I’m in the zone and hate to break it), my break times during the day are my reading times.
However, if you are the type of person that needs a breather during work—than you really should do it. Take a 15-minute break and grab an iced coffee around the corner, or even just go for a walk around the building/block. Chat with someone in the break room. Your brain works best when you let it breathe (and let’s be honest, you’ll feel like a sane human being if you keep this a part of your everyday lifestyle).
Treat yourself once a week
When it comes to meal planning, one of the things that will get me through the week is knowing that Oliver & I will get to treat ourselves to some sort of fun activity during the weekend. Typically, this will be a night at our favorite local bar, ordering takeout, or heading to a new restaurant or coffee shop in our neighborhood. This is the time I let myself get nice and unhealthy with my meals—which, of course, Oliver loves because BURGERS AND BEER ARE DELICIOUS. Knowing that this is my reward at the end of the week helps me to keep up with the meals that I carefully prepared, and also saves HELLA money.
Work with purpose
Love your job, hate your job, whatever you feel about your job…you should live with purpose. You have been placed in a position regardless how you feel about it, and you should try to live out that work with the fullest potential that you can give it right now. Trust me, I get having bad jobs and boring jobs…how they just eat at your soul. But that doesn’t mean we should stop working hard. Having the discipline to work hard, no matter what your job may be, means having the discipline to treat your body and mind with care. The discipline to take breaks, to eat right, to workout, and to do the things that you love.
Save time for creativity
This is something I still find massively challenging, but I know it is important. Since my job is all about being creative with social media, I need time to mess around and be creative on my own. Two weeks into my job and I was already pushing away all of my creative ambitions…and I could actually feel the repercussions of it. I was longing for moments to be creative and have fun, and although I have no idea what this will look like yet in my schedule. I know it’s a necessity.