Today, I attended an Open Mic event at Ouida Books, a bookstore in Ikeja GRA, I haven’t done something spontaneous in a while and I attended the event considering a few things I am learning.
At my office retreat last December, one of the questions asked during Mich Atagana’s talk was how she balanced work and living (the question didn’t come exactly like this, but this is how I like to think of the proverbial work-life balance). Mich answered that each person needed to define what balance means to them by starting with the things you love and making time out to do them.
Before then, I had never thought about it in that manner. I was always talking about the lack of balance in my life and had no exact strategy on how to achieve said balance. Where I sat in the audience, I decided to make a list, it was a really short list. I didn’t want to make it too long and overwhelm myself before I even got started. Here is what my list contained;
1. Reading (Essays and Novels)
2. Taking Photos
3. Videos Calls with my friends.
I know the third one is strange but having long conversations with my friends makes me really happy. The next thing I did was set out the steps on how to achieve these things.
1. Read a new article every day, make a list of books to read every month and don’t feel bad if you don’t finish reading all the books, just keep reading.
2. Take my camera out more often (I haven’t followed through on this, I make use of my phone)
3. Set reminders to call my friends.
I started reading more, I wake up at about 6:30am everyday, say a prayer and instead of browsing away on Instagram, I read for about an hour before I get ready for work, I also read on my taxi rides on days I choose not to drive and any pod of free time I find during the day.
I started taking photos on my phone; of sunsets, making my friends pose or simply just taking a good old selfie. I know, nothing serious, but it gives me something creative to do every day.
Reminders do work, please use them. I called my friends, the ones willing to video chat and the one who just wanted to stick with voice calls. It feels good to be deliberate about connecting with people in your life. I feel less isolated and I don’t get lost in my head as often.
Here is what I noticed in the first few weeks of trying this; I stopped feeling on edge and snapping at everyone around me, I started sleeping better (my sleeping habit is still horrible but it has improved considerably) and I am feeling like the person I want to be; I have more room to accommodate people in my life and more love to give.
I took it a step further in the new year and made a longer list, taking into consideration the things that usually stress me and why they do. Imagine a balance scale with Stress on one side and ‘’Love Items’’ on the other side, the goal is to add more blocks to the Love Items to ensure it always outweighs the stress.
Here is what I added to the existing three items on my list.
1. Attending literary events
2. Travel; visit at least one new place/country before the first half of the year is over
3. Resume daily journaling
I will keep adding to the list with passing months and see how it affects my attitude, my outlook on life and my overall wellbeing. I am not an expert at life, but this is something I have tried, it is working therefore I will keep at it.