Seeking Balance: Drawing A Line Between Where You Work And How You Live
Updated: Mar 25
The whole world is out of wack. I’ve stopped watching the news, rarely read the newspapers, and I’ve filtered my social media to avoid particularly cantankerous people. I would be perfectly fine if a percentage of the population imploded with no clean up required by the rest of us still living in this world. Humans are awful.
Sounds a little dark? Well maybe that’s because there’s a Wendy Williams level cloud of shade over us. There is very little attention placed on the clear mental health needs of the general public. Most of us are employed to solve community conditions that are insurmountable. Social workers, health care providers, counselors and the like have a super hero like cause to save the world, but definitely aren’t bulletproof.
So the question becomes how do you maintain balance in a society so imbalanced? How do you restore the quality of life in communities as you actively work to believe in the common good? Yeah, it’s a tall order. But what if I told you it was possible to live your best life and change community conditions that prevent people from thriving?
Here are a few nuggets I’ve picked up over the years that helped me get through my do-gooder burn out:
Shift your paradigm. Sometimes we become so entrenched in our work that we only see the negative impact. If you work in the service industry it is likely you have a mission and vision to eradicate a problem, improve an outcome or shift a negative data point. These types of positions frequently come with setbacks, negative data trends, and unintended outcomes that damage our self-worth. It is so important to celebrate our small victories and find impact we are making in new and innovative ways. Have conversations with people outside of your organization that can help you see how you’ve positively impacted the population you serve. Think of an individual success story and hold onto it when the data suggests failure. Sometimes it is the only thing that keeps us committed to the work.
Focus on yourself and what brings you joy. When is the last time you’ve experienced pure joy? What makes you laugh till you pee? How long has it been since you danced like no one is watching? If you haven’t done any of these things you’ve allowed your work to steal your joy. You must never do that. Find your joy in simple places and seek it out daily.
Never let a year go by that you don’t travel. This is so common in the social service industry. People take vacation time, but check in to work more than they enjoy their time with family. One way to ensure your vacation time is authentic is to travel to a place that makes it difficult to be reached. You must do this for yourself. If your team cannot function without you that does not do you or your team a service, it hinders your longevity if something happens where you can’t work. If your work is mission driven you should be developing the people around you so you can go on vacation.
Reduce exposure to your triggers. Avoidance can keep your energy clear. Some people just function on a very low frequency. As often as possible please stay away from people that trigger your negative response. This may mean making some drastic changes, or some simple boundaries around people and organizations. Communicate clearly with those that present these triggers and be firm with your boundaries. If the people that trigger you are unwilling to respond to your needs for a healthy work environment they don’t deserve your presence and it may be time to look for a new place to succeed.
Ultimately, you must establish your boundaries, set your expectations and develop techniques to ensure you live a life of joy. DO IT! Don’t waver. Be well so wellness spreads.