Today’s world is a busy world in which there is always more to be done. More that we can do for others- our friends, our family, our children. And for many, there is always more that we can do at work. Higher productivity, more output. Many feel pressure to skip their breaks or take a working lunch in order to meet demands placed on them, whether by their supervisor, or in other cases, demands placed on them by themselves.
However, in doing all of those things, we are often making sacrifices that we are unaware of the long-term effects in that moment. We sacrifice a healthy lunch to finish one more report. We sacrifice time with our family to stay late at work. We sacrifice sleep to complete that costume for our children.
Now, not all sacrifices can or should be avoided. However, we should take a closer look at what exactly we are sacrificing and to meet what outcome. How important is the outcome in the grand scheme of things? How important are the things that we are giving up? What is important to you? Family? Children? Career? Health? How do you choose which is most important? How does that change day to day or even minute to minute?
The answers to these questions are not easy. For many of us, all of those things carry some varying level of importance. And, further, those things are often inexplicably intertwined. We need to focus on career so that we can provide for our family and children. We need to focus on our health so that we can continue to work, as well as be there with our family and children as long as possible. It can be hard to separate out.
So what do we do? We have to strive to keep some balance. Balance between the sacrifices we make for others, and balance to make sure that we are also caring for ourselves. If we don’t care for ourselves, we will be unable to continue to carry on caring for others. This means that we will need to set up boundaries for ourselves. We may need to say “no” to others. We may need to take time for ourselves to that we can recharge and recuperate so that we can finish that costume or those three reports that are due. We need to make sure that our needs are also on our list of priorities. We need to rest, and enjoy ourselves, whether it’s allowing yourself to take that Saturday afternoon nap, or spending quality time enjoying your family, children, or friends. It’s about prioritizing what is important to you, and acting on those priorities in some meaningful way.
And yes, sometimes we may need to be flexible with our priorities. If there is a project at work that needs to be completed within a designated time frame, we may need to put in a little extra time. However, we need to also make sure that we are not sacrificing too much, too often so that we lose contact with the other priorities in our life.
Karen Rosian, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist