You’re a go-getter. Hey, anyone reading an article with this title is sure to be. But you also have your doubts. Personal development is hard. Work is hard. Maintaining a healthy, happy family is very hard. How can you possibly expect to do all three?
It starts with a good plan. Go in knowing what you hope to accomplish, and how you plan to get there, then tackle obstacles as they arrive. In this article, we take a close look at what it takes to balance all of your work, personal, and educational goals.
Define Personal Development
Before you try to prioritize things in your schedule, it’s important to get a fair grasp of what you are trying to accomplish. In other words, what does personal development look like to you? Are you trying to lose weight? Make more social connections? Waste less time, achieve more of your goals, be kinder…. the list could go on and on, and it isn’t our job to make it for you.
It doesn’t really matter what your goals are. What does matter is that you have them. Keep in mind that the more specific you get the more likely it is that you will achieve them. “Lose weight,” is vague. Will you know you’re done once you see a certain number on the scale, or are we trying to squeeze back into the pants you wore in high school?
Once you’ve narrowed it to something very specific, you can then develop steps that will help you achieve that goal. For example, you’ve decided you want to lose weight. To get there, you can set up a workout regimen for yourself. Develop a diet. Eliminate foods, and so on and so forth.
You don’t go on a road trip without a route. You shouldn’t make a goal without knowing what steps it will take to get there.
Set Time Aside for It
Ha! Time. You’re funny. I don’t even remember what that is. When my kids see me pick up a book, they smile and say, “Oh good, she’s not busy.” Time is something I don’t have.
Well, excuse us. You’re probably not wrong. If your schedule is like most people’s, it’s probably not packed to the gills with free time. However, you should be able to maximize efficiency by trimming the fat a little bit.
Do you watch television? Hey, we aren’t your parents here, but if you do, that’s probably an easy way to free up a little bit of extra personal development time. Then there’s the cell phone. If you’re just as attached to yours as the rest of the world is to theirs, you’ll probably find that there’s another hour or two you can free up by cutting back on your social media time.
Granted, these are probably things you rely on to blow off steam. In the short term, it may be pretty difficult to forgo these things, but once you get out of the habit, you’ll be glad for the spare time —especially when it can be channeled toward reaching your goals.
Know When to Ask for Help
Some goals — and any goal can fall into this category, really — require help from your support system. Even if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, you may find it helpful to ask your partner not to buy snack foods, or at least maybe hide them?
Then there are big goals, like going to school as a parent. Major life milestones that require a significant investment of both time and effort.
You’re awesome, so if worse comes to worst, you can absolutely tackle this on your own. But why try it if you don’t have to? See what kind of help you can get going in. Find out how much of the slack your partner is able or willing to pick up. Talk to the kid’s grandparents about maybe watching them a little more often. Grandma and grandpa are always talking about how they want to see the grandkids more, aren’t they?
Naturally, you don’t want to be a burden. However, asking the occasional favor is a good way to help move toward your goals, and you’ll often be surprised by how eager people are to help. Raising a family and working full-time while going to school is hard. There is no shame in getting help.
Become a Schedule Person
There’s a type of person who just naturally runs on schedules. They chart their day out like it’s a road trip map, and move gracefully through each of the steps. It’s a great way to navigate a really busy schedule, but it’s also not a habit that comes naturally to everyone.
You might not be a schedule person now, but if you’re going to be balancing school, work, and family time, you may want to consider adopting the habit.
You don’t have to map out every minute. However, if you can get even just a rough sketch of the big things — homework, work projects, jobs that absolutely need to get done around the house, you’ll find that you are both productive and less stressed.
Always Set New Goals
One of the nice things about personal development is that when you do it the right way, you’re eventually going to start crossing things off your list. As you do, it’s important to start making new goals. You’ve lost weight. Think about starting up on CrossFit (or don’t, because it sounds hard, and maybe not terribly fun).
You’re donating more money to charity. Great. Maybe you can donate some of your time? There’s always the next level. Another step you can take that will help advance your goals to the next stage. Hey, you’re a personal development person now. That’s great news, but it means you’ve entered a journey that never ends.