Updated: May 20
I recall being in my 20s. You have all the time in the world, but you have no idea where you're going and all you want to do is hang out with your friends and make new ones. Now I'm in my mid-30s working as a Senior CSM in a fast-paced SaaS startup and juggling between "work" and "work". I must admit these days finding a balance between work and personal life is demanding task. There are numerous women, including myself and my mom, who are simultaneously managing work, family and study, and today I wanted to share my story and also explain why I have been quite in past few months.
In the past 2 years, my life as a mid age woman has been a constant dance of busyness and responsibilities (which I already mentioned above 😆). From balancing a demanding career to managing commitments and personal responsibilities to take care of my mother, the days have flown by in a blur. There were moments when I questioned if I could keep up with the pace, if I could just stop now, but I pushed forward with determination and resilience. Today, as I pause to reflect on this journey, I realize the invaluable lessons I've learned and the strength I've gained along the way.
Before I get start with bullet points, I'd like to share my thought of being busy and actually being busy. When I think about being busy, it makes me feel already exhausted, yet when I have free time, I miss being busy and add more tasks to my plate because it is addictive, and like a drug.
So here what did I learn being busy and what is good about it:
Professional Growth: I think we all can agree on being busy specially in a dynamic SaaS startup environment provides huge opportunities for professional growth, skill development, and career fulfillment. Not only GROWTH also making IMPACT. You have the chance to make a great impact on your clients' success and contribute to the growth of the company. If you haven't read how it looks like my day as CSM, you can read from here and I have shared more of this.
Skill Set Expansion: Being immersed in a fast-paced environment presents the opportunity to expand your skill set. As a CSM, you engage with diverse clients, tackle complex challenges, and enhance your problem-solving, communication, and relationship-building abilities. Can you believe it if I say I've gained 5 years' worth of information and skills in the last 2 years?
And there are many pros of being busy. What about cons?
Stress, Stress and Burnout: A busy work life can lead to elevated stress levels and the risk of burnout. I reached burnout in October 2022 and was unable to continue, both physically and mentally. Navigating the busy and demanding life I found myself in, I soon realized that the potential for burnout also hinged on my environment and the individuals surrounding me. I was traveling for work, spending 18 hours with my colleague. As someone who had never experienced burnout before, I failed to recognize the warning signs and understand what was truly amiss in my life. Juggling multiple responsibilities, meeting demanding targets, and constantly being "on" can take a toll really on mental and physical well-being.
No Personal Life and #NOTime: Balancing work commitments may leave limited time for personal life, relationships, and self-care. I had no energy to engage in any activities outside of work or see my friends because I was mentally and emotionally exhauseted. As someone who typically thrives on social interactions, I started to avoid meeting with friends since I would much rather sleep and be in a peaceful place to recharge my energy for the busy week.
What I am doing it differently now?
Manage Workload and Prioritize: Learning to manage my workload effectively and prioritise accordingly. This is something very hard for YES man and also someone who is addicted of being busy. However, I am taking one step at the time and setting realistic expectations and deadlines to my clients. Prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency to ensure I stay focused on what matters most - for example whatever task that directly effects on my KPI or long-term goal like taking HBS online courses every evening.
Self-Care and Yes to only what gives me positive energy: Although I haven't begun my cycling or pilates, I have started swimming for 40 minutes at least twice a week as well as doing intermittent fasting 16/8. I set aside time for myself to recharge and reflect. Set boundaries to safeguard my mental health, make sure I spend time with loved ones who uplift me, and engage in activities that make me happy. Specially, connecting with like-minded individuals through networking events that is outside of the work, industry groups, or online communities to share experiences and gain support is very important.
While it is often said that your colleagues become a second family, spending a significant portion of our waking hours together, it is crucial to recognize that immersing oneself in a single environment and dedicating over 10 hours a day to the same topic can hinder creativity and drain one's energy reserves. The best way to foster innovation and maintain a fresh perspective, it is essential to seek opportunities for diverse experiences and engage in activities beyond the work environment.
Gradual Transition: Nothing ever happens in one night, and it always take time returning to normal routine. I started by introducing small changes, such as scheduling dedicated time for swimming, start doing activities that makes me happy at least once a month or closing my laptop at certain hours. I also minimise my hours on replying messages on phone or scrolling through social media.
Of course, the list can go on but these are just few and in the storm of busyness and responsibilities that have consumed my life as a mid-30s woman, I've come to appreciate the value of finding balance between work and personal life. It has been an bumpy journey, but it has taught me invaluable lessons about growth, resilience, and self-care.
Navigating the challenges of being constantly "on" and juggling multiple responsibilities, I reached a point of exhaustion where my personal life and relationships were effected. Recognizing the need to set boundaries and prioritize self-care, I've started making positive changes to regain my energy and reconnect with what truly matters. It's about managing my workload effectively, embracing activities that bring me joy, and surrounding myself with my loved ones who uplift me everyday.
As I embark on this gradual transition towards a healthier routine, I'm reminded that nothing happens overnight. It takes time, patience, and small steps to restore balance and find a sense of normalcy. Even with all these challenges, I wake up each morning feeling energized and excited about the impact I can make on my clients and the opportunities that lie ahead. So, let's embrace the journey, take care of ourselves, and create a harmonious blend of work and personal fulfillment in our lives.