This month I want to talk about balance. I did say balance, and I did not mean standing on one foot with your other leg out in front of you. I mean balance in your life. When I accepted the opportunity to write this monthly column on health and wellness and its direct impact on you, the aesthetician, it prompted me to do a bit of soul searching and reflection. Specifically, on how much I practice what I preach, concerning what I believe is so absolutely critical not only to our success, but to our lives.
To get started, answer the following three questions:
- In one week, how much time do you dedicate to yourself, and I mean only you? "You" time to exercise, read, take a bath, have a facial, listen to your favorite CD, cook your favorite meal, or simply take time for yourself?
- In one week, how much time do you dedicate to your family, friends or significant others?
- In one week, how much time do you dedicate to your job and career?
Now, how many of you do not even want to write those numbers down? You know what I am getting at, do you not? In fact, I put myself through the same three questions and I was pretty disappointed. Apparently, I am not quite as upstanding in the life balance area as I would proclaim to be. But that is okay. The first step is recognizing it; the next step is changing it. It is time for your first and your second steps.
Let us pragmatically evaluate your dedication time. If you gauge your weekly activity time based on an average of 15 hours per day (assuming that you get about eight hours of sleep per night), we can say that you have 105 hours in a week to consciously balance your life. Forty to 60 of those hours is dedicated to work, leaving 45 hours remaining, which when broken into the seven days of a week, allows you 6.43 hours per day to tend to family, friends, errands, chores and yourself. In theory it sounds like quite a bit of time, but you and I both know it is not. Now, I want you to apply those hours to the above three questions so you can recognize exactly where your balance, or imbalance, is.
Take out a separate piece of paper and draw a line down the center to create two columns. Begin with the first category: You. On the left side of the paper, list all of the positive and enjoyable things that you do for yourself in a week. On the right side, list the things that you would like, but do not do for yourself. Next category: Family, Friends and Significant Other. On the left side of the column, list all of the things that you do with and for family, friends and others. On the left side, list all of the things that you do for family, friends and others that you do not enjoy, are not pleasurable, or that you feel you do because you just cannot say no. Last category: Job and Career. On the left side, list all of the job related tasks that you do in a week – all of them. On the right side, list all of the necessary things that must be accomplished on a weekly basis and the time it takes to do it.
Put your papers aside and give me 10 minutes right now (well, a soon as you complete this column). Sit somewhere where you are completely alone and focus on yourself for this time, nothing else, but yourself. I want you to acknowledge a series of factors that have an impact on every single person's life. Are you ready?
What have you accomplished in life?
What do you wish you accomplished?
What can you still accomplish?
What makes you smile?
Who makes you smile?
What makes you proud?
Who makes you proud?
What makes you angry, sad, anxious or envious?
Who makes you angry, sad, anxious or envious?
Are you healthy?
Can you hear, see, smell, touch and feel?
Do you remember your first kiss?
Do you remember your first crush?
Can you recall the smell in the air in the spring or after a rainfall?
Can you recall a baby's first cry, the smell of a rose, or the gentle whisper of an ocean breeze?
THIS is what life is all about... THIS is what balance is about! And now is your time to re-allocate it!
Go back now to your lists on your paper. For this next task, you need to remove your emotions and re-write your list in the following way. First category: You. On the left side, list the things that you are now going to do for yourself every week. On the right side, list the things that you would really like to do, but know that you probably will not incorporate (sort of like a "wish" list). Second category: Family, Friends and Significant Other. On the left side, list the things that you do that are important, necessary and pleasurable with those people that are also important, necessary and pleasurable. On the right side, list all of the things that you are no longer going to do with and for family, friends and significant others. Finally, the last category: Job and Career. On the left side of the paper, list all of the things you are committing to accomplishing throughout the week. Whereas, on the right side, list all of the things that you will delegate, say no to taking on the responsibility of, or just are not necessary (such as gossiping in the break room, updating Facebook, et cetera.)
Okay, now allocate your 6.43 hours appropriately to categories one and two, and then take a look at how much weight you have removed from category three. I do not know about you, but I feel better already!
Balance will be different for each and every one of us, but the one constant, is that it is balance. It is the allocation of time, effort and energy to what is most important in our lives; because before we know it, we are looking back saying, "I wish I had...." Balance is the ability to feel calm, clear-headed and motivated (rather than anxious, stressed and tugged in multiple directions). I realize this is not an easy task, I truly do. We have become so accustomed to material assets and even material accomplishments that our society has slightly lost track of the absolute beauty and fulfillment that each day could, and should bring. It does not mean we cannot get that back. In our business we are the givers, very unlike many other professions; we not only give to the important people in our lives such as family and friends, but we give eight hours a day to each and every client as well. Now it is time to give to yourself. Life is too short not to... and the more you give to who you are, the more it will come back to you. How many of you believe in Karma? Even if you do not, I can promise you that the better you are, the better the world around you becomes. When that happens an incredible sense of balance becomes an integral part of your actions, thoughts and beliefs, which all result in the clarification of success, achievements, accomplishments and inner peace.
Do not waste your precious time and energy on people, activities and things that not only add no value to you, but drain and exhaust you. For example:
- The client that does nothing but complain about every service – fire her (or him). It is okay, and it will feel really good!
- The friend in constant need of your approval, support and time for them to share the drama in their life.
- The co-worker that does nothing but complain about everything from the weather to the decorations in their treatment room.
- The need to commit to things that do not fit in your life. Unfortunately, you do them because you are too nice to say no.
- Excess time on Facebook reading about everyone else's issues.
Instead, spend your precious time and energy on people, activities and things that add value to you. Our profession is a gift; each of us is a gift; you are a gift. Balance your week and the rest will all fall into place. Just wait and see.
Michelle D'Allaird is a New York State licensed aesthetician and International CIDESCO Diplomat. She is the owner of the Aesthetic Science Institute aesthetic schools in Syracuse and Latham, N.Y. She is a consultant and educator for international cosmetic companies around the world. D'Allaird is a contributing author to major industry trade magazines, as well as a host and speaker for The International Congress of Esthetics & Spa conferences in Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas and Long Beach. She is also a co-author of Salon Fundamentals aesthetic textbook. Her expertise lies in education and curriculum development for aesthetic, medical, and laser courses.