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Take a Stand for Yourself
Maintaining balance in your life is a common concern these days, usually posed as an issue of work/life balance. People who seek work/life balance often want to work less and have more time and energy for family or for other interests. However, I'd like to look at balance through a different lens.
At its core, I believe that maintaining "balance" means examining how fully we value and honor ourselves. And to fully value and honor ourselves, sometimes we need to take a stand. We already take stands for causes we believe in, we advocate for our children, and champion our friends as they go after their dreams. Yet sometimes we forget that the most important person to take a stand for is the one we greet daily in the bathroom mirror.
Taking a stand means different things to different people. Here are some examples:
- In the midst of a successful career and a growing family, your political consciousness is activated and you join in a protest about an issue close to your heart.
- You buck the family expectation that you'll use your law degree in a big downtown law firm. Instead, you use your legal skills to protect the environment.
- You're from a family of artists and writers, but you go to business school instead.
- You tell your family and friends that you are going to take care of yourself first - starting now.
These are big, life-altering examples. You also take a stand for yourself when you say, for example, "I'm not cooking dinner on Friday nights" or "From now on, I'm leaving work by 5:30pm" or "I'm for the first time committed to losing these 20 pounds".
Sometimes the stand you've taken may not be popular amongst those nearest and dearest to you. And sometimes, you'll feel everyone is cheering you on! Sometimes it's a little of both. In any case, you have stretched into unknown territory.
Tips for taking a stand:
- Gain clarity: What do you want? What action, if any, do you need to take?
- Carve out some time and space to reflect and listen to yourself. What does your intuition tell you?
- Recognize that your energy for taking a stand ebbs and flows.
- Engage your support system. Talk about your goals with people who know you and truly listen.
- Know that you always have a choice. What may feel like balance one day may not feel like it the next.
When you take a stand for yourself, you contribute to the world in a bigger way than you could ever imagine. The ripple in the pond analogy fits: When you value yourself and what you need, you inspire others to do the same thing. What would the world be like if each of us took a stand?