Written by Francine Baffa, LICSW, BCBA-D
Edited by Joe DeNoon
The beginning of a new school year has always felt like a type of New Year for me. In this month of September, I find myself on a soul-searching journey towards rediscovering myself. After a lifetime of checking off boxes, I want to decide what I want next—who am I today? How am I the same and yet different from who I was just last year, if not a decade earlier? I think many of us feel this way! Using this time of reflection can be key to how we approach the last quarter of the year; this is a great time to let go of the past labels and titles and think deeply about our passions and unique talents.
You may want to alter your perspective and look at the rest of your life through a new lens. A shift that is characterized not by having it all but rather having what you need. This is the time to evaluate what you can give up getting the life you desire. Thinking about how to design work-life balance is important as well; a good work-life balance has numerous positive effects, including less stress and a lower risk of burnout.
What Is Your Meaningful Life?
There is no set blueprint for what a meaningful life looks like. One key condition is that it aligns with your core values. For example, thriving at work can mean different things to different people. When creating a schedule that works for you, think about the best way to achieve equal effort in each part of your life. Remember, balance is achieved over time, not each day.
Ultimately, it is about having agency over what and who is in your life. It is defining a life you can rest in rather than race to,being present and contentment.
Here are some points to consider as you work to unfold a life worth living.
- Time is not a renewable resource. Each moment is one of a kind, and you get to decide what you value the most to design a life that moves towards those. Remember to let go of the curated and airbrushed picture you see on social media and the pressure of reaching others’ goals for you. Name your priorities and stick to them.
- Believe that your life will be long and there are phases to it. Rest in that. Don’t feel that you must achieve everything tomorrow. When you look at your life as a long road ahead, you can give yourself the grace to focus on what you need in each phase.
- Much like a road trip, to get to a destination we must have a route. To live a thriving life, you must understand who you are, your values, and the skills and competencies you bring to the table. Your values are the compass that point in the direction you want to go, and life phases comprise the map. At times, you may need to reset your expectations about what is suitable for you and be motivated to figure out what you need.
- Simply put: learn to say “NO, not at this time.” Saying, “that doesn’t work for me right now,” is an important and meaningful way to say no because it speaks to the vision for your life and your desire to find balance. Remember you are not saying never, you are stating where you are at the current moment. Also note every “Yes” that you say is a “No” to something else. Work to commit only to those things you feel will genuinely add to your life and be fulfilling. To those things, of course, say yes.
Pass up good for great. By taking the time to define your personal version of “all” to be your best self, you need to make intentional choices. In the absence of active decisions, you can drift into a life that can be out of balance and lack purpose and meaning. Be conscious of where you want to go and the path you choose to arrive.