On Unplugging And New Beginnings

My holiday was a blur. I was too busy with client work, freelancing.ph and my role as a new mommy. I found myself catching up with work every chance I get. When New Year’s eve came, I naturally felt the need to reflect on my accomplishments and shortcomings for the past year.

“Is this what I want to do? Should I continue working? Am I doing okay as a mother?”

My thoughts were clouded and for days, I felt confused. Then I caught a bad cough. My usual workaholic self would dismiss it and would continue chugging along through my long list of to-do’s. But exhaustion crept in and for some reason, I felt… uninspired.

Year In Review

I took this chance to go on leave. For four days, I forgot about my laptop, my clients and my biz. I relaxed, focused on my recovery, and spent most of my time just playing with my little boy. I had time to clean up and stumbled upon my old notebook. Hello, 2014 goals!

2014 Goals

I marveled at how simple my goals were back then. Heck, this blog wasn’t even a part of my plan! There were 20+ items in there but summarizing it, my key focus were:

  1. Getting fit and preparing for my baby’s  arrival
  2. Enriching relationships by being a better wife and daughter
  3. Being more productive to save time and learn new things.

Overall, I’d give myself a 7/10 in terms of accomplishing the above list plus maybe a bonus of 0.5pts for the things I started in 2014. Strangely, something still feels off.

On Striking A Balance

My husband calls me workaholic; I call myself ambitious. Ain’t nothing wrong with that! But what happens to work-life balance? I must admit –and if you’re a freelancer you would agree with me– that freelancing can be quite addictive. Earning dollars by the hour is enough motivation to just keep going. I know a few people working two full-time jobs – that’s about 60-80 hours a week! Oh good lord. This brought me to question myself, am I overdoing it?

After months of living in denial, I finally admitted that I was putting pressure on myself more than I should. There was way too much going on. For the times I missed my personal deadlines, I felt awful. I lost my focus. Maybe Robert Herjavec, Shark Tank Serial Investor, was right. Work-life balance is overrated.

In an interview with Entrepreneur.com, he quips:

“Work-life balance is one of the biggest misconceptions people have,” he told Entrepreneur.com. “It’s not reality.”

But Qualtrics’ CEO thinks otherwise. Ryan Smith shared his secret on how he achieved a good balance between running a billion dollar business and taking care of his family.

“He likens work-life balance to a plane that can easily go lopsided and constantly needs to be stabilized. One wing represents his family’s needs, the other his work’s. When he’s on a business trip, for example, one side of the plane tilts down.”

To keep things balanced, he listed down the jobs he was responsible for:

  • A husband
  • A father
  • A son
  • A CEO
  • A boss
  • A sibling
  • A grandson
  • A friend

Then he asked himself what he could do for each job that week to make him feel successful. He found that by breaking down goals into weekly tasks and combining some tasks, helped him achieve everything quickly. For instance, if he took his son to visit his mother, he got to be a good father and son at the same time.

That was interesting. No fancy formulas or complex solutions. It’s remarkable to see a billionaire CEO’s zeal to keep his work and family life balanced. Sounds simple and worth a shot! If it worked for him, surely it can work for me too.

Why Unplugging Is Essential

In this world where everyone is virtually glued to the internet, logging off is almost cynical. We are on our devices all the freaking time. I too am guilty of this. After shutting down and I’ve put my little boy to bed, I reach out for my trusty iphone. So when I decided to disconnect, I made an extra effort to focus on the world and the humans surrounding me. It was an experience I needed not just to recuperate, but more so to examine my life. Here are three of my most important takeaways.

1. I started with the things I was thankful for. The birth of my son, a stronger family life, a story feature in oDesk and being able to start freelancing.ph. I’m blessed with new found friends whom I’ve met online and connected with. Though my year end was dull and stressful, there is always, ALWAYS, something to be thankful for.

2. I celebrated my victories. During my hiatus, I finally finished the book which I started reading back in October. That’s an accomplishment enough for me! I’ve also started an exercise routine which hopefully will save me from the long hours I was sedentary in 2014. And I think it’s working. In a matter of days, I already feel great and refreshed.

3. Spending quality time with your loved ones is priceless. I guess when you work online, you get used to being alone and just communicating via multiple messaging platforms. During this time, I had the chance to spend a full day with my high school friends for our annual post-Christmas gathering. We played games, laughed our hearts out and talked about silly things if not about our families. Facebook chats can never measure up to the joy of being together and having real conversations.

I’m not saying that Internet is evil. I’m grateful for it and it’s our future. What I’m suggesting is try logging off at times. Get your butt off your computer chair and reconnect with your loved ones.

Onwards And Upwards

Whatever I got out of my little exercise, I’ll bring it with me as I march towards 2015. I listed down my main goals for this year and you’ll notice how I tried to keep it as balanced as possible.

  • For freelancing.ph, my goal remains to be the go-to resource for budget-friendly, skills training webinars to help more Filipinos establish a profitable career in freelancing. We will continue to roll-out new courses to help freelancers and aspirants alike. The timing of the launch is the variable (x). Be sure to connect with us to stay up to date.
  • For my client work, to take it easy and manage my time better. I should learn when to say no. I will continue enhancing my skills via online courses so I can share more to my clients and to our freelancing.ph members. Oh, and I hope to see you at The People’s Conference on March 28th where I will be moderating in one of the sessions.
  • For my personal life, to get fit! My goal is to workout 4x a week and so far I’ve been hitting my goal. Fingers crossed to a better, healthier, post-pregnancy body. More importantly, to allot time each month to go out on dates with my husband, my son, my friends, and my family.  A beach vacation this summer perhaps?

My friend Bernard once called me a go-getter:

I wouldn’t argue with him. I mean, we only live once right? But between #YOLO and my family, I will always be a wife and a mom first. Whatever I accomplish on my career is gravy on top. Cheers to a better life this 2015!

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