By Lara Gardiner
There is a common behavior amongst people with full-time jobs or similar extended time commitments and despite this behavior being shared amongst many individuals, it’s a silent killer, and it litters your mind with overwhelming feelings of exhaustion.
One of the first things people do when they start a full-time job or new commitment is stop everything else they were doing outside of work. We get so overwhelmed with our 40-hour time commitment that we think we don't have time for anything other than working, eating, and sleeping. But let’s take a moment to reflect about the true impact of such a behavior…
Without any other habits, when work feels bad, our whole life feels bad. In other words, if we invest all our emotional energy into our work, and work is dampening our emotions, then our overall emotional state is bad. This is the common phenomenon of putting all your eggs in one basket, but it does not have to be this way.
Let’s look at a different scenario, where we did not put all our other habits on hold because of our 40-hour time commitment. In this scenario, our emotional energy is dispersed amongst a few activities. In addition to our job, we have other habits going on which allow us to #UNLITTER our mind from work. Therefore, when work feels bad, you can find solace in your other habits and still have an overarching feeling of good.
For example, when I started working full-time I essentially quit working out, journalling, and meditating instantly. These were all things that I knew brought me joy. I was unable to #UNLITTER my mind and it became clogged. I believed that work drained all my energy to the point where all I would do when I got home was watch TV. In reality, I should have meditated, journaled, or done something else I know to #UNLITTER my mind before having to go to work again the next day. That way if work felt bad, I could not only use journaling and meditating to feel better, but I could also remind myself that I had a life constructed outside of work that still felt good. The side effects of my job did not control all aspects of my life.
So how can you #UNLITTER your mind and disconnect from work?
Managing a work-life balance is so much more than a slogan we hear thrown around all the time. It runs deep into the kinds of practices you implement in your “life” that allow you to truly disengage and disconnect from “work”. Firstly, it involves removing yourself from your mind’s persistence. Snap yourself out of the mental pattern of saying “I do not have enough time” and reframe your mindset to notice all the pockets of time you DO have. This one tip helped me drastically and it is what got me to write this article and be productive.
The brief, yet important, message of this is to have your own thing going on in addition to work. It sounds simple and it can be simple. It can be as simple as a hobby that makes you happy, or it can be a side hustle where your true passion lies. Not everything that is related to your growth and development has to be a struggle, you just need one thing that is a constant positive in your life to keep you balanced when work does not feel good. We all need that one thing that #UNLITTERs our mind.
My dream is to be a full time YouTuber. At first, my job felt like it was taking away from this dream. Now that I shifted my mindset and I am dedicated to writing, scripting, and filming for YouTube, my work motivates me to maintain these habits. I look forward to when I finish the workday because I seek refuge in these habits, and I know that they will give me a bright future.
The main message is, build habits that make you excited for life outside of work. Don’t let work infiltrate all other aspects of your free time. It can do it in sneaky ways, like convincing yourself you’re too tired to do anything… All of this is in your head, so use that same head to convince yourself that you have all the energy in the world. Your mental space dictates your reality, never forget the gravity of that.