Voices of MainStreet: April Lee

5 Ways to Find Balance

May 20, 2011

The truly wonderful thing about living in a thriving, metropolitan city like Seattle is that there is so much to do. When I first moved here I played and partied a lot. Then I realized how much trouble I was getting into (i.e. spending way too much money) and decided to make up for it by working far too much. By the end of the year I had run myself ragged so I made a New Year’s Resolution to not work too much. Working is important, money is important, but so is health: physical, mental and emotional. It’s easy to forget about those last two but they are just as important. In an effort to find a balance of financial security, working, playing and a little solitude I found a few things that help.

“Take the stairs.” I am not kidding about this. We’ve heard it a bunch and tend to ignore it. It’s highly unlikely you don’t have the extra few minutes it takes to walk up the stairs. I have paid attention to how much time it takes to wait for the elevator, get on the elevator, wait for other people to get off the elevator and then finally my turn to get off the elevator. Likely, taking the stairs will not require too much more of your time than it does to ride the elevator, though it will take more effort but this is good effort. It’s great effort invested especially if you work in front of computer or sit at a desk all the day. You need your blood to move. It’s an energy and mood booster. Once, I read somewhere that smokers have one thing right: They take breaks and in some ways this makes them healthier than those who do not and work through the day. I make sure to take a 10 minute walk to get coffee, chat with the barista and enjoy a little fresh air. Trust me, it does wonders.

90 minutes of exercise a week. Life is busy and often I find I “don’t have time” to work out 5 days a week like I want to. The bare minimum I need to do is 30 minutes of getting my heart rate up into its target rate three days a week. I grew up in the South and the Mid-West. We are not pro-active about taking care of our bodies stereotypically speaking. Seattlites are so encouraging to be around. Yesterday I was approached in Cal Anderson Park, located in Seattle’s hot spot neighborhood Capitol Hill, and was asked to play kickball! The last time I played kickball was when I was a kid! So go out, find ways to play.

Laugh. People always say to me, “But you look so young!’ First of all, twenty-seven is not old. I’m always surprised when people have that reaction after hearing my age. Still, they ask me what I do. I laugh a lot. I wish I could get paid to laugh. Humor helps me survive. Now that I have been out on my own in the working world as a completely independent adult, I truly understand how easy it is to go with the stress ball rolling down a massive hill. Stop, take a breath, don’t take life’s hiccups too seriously and laugh. Find a way to laugh, every day.

Make your money work for you. Find something you are comfortable investing your money in even if it’s only $100. So what? It’s the same as anything else: the more you do it the more you’ll want to. So start small if that’s what you can do, celebrate that first step and keep going. If there is one thing I’ve learned from rich people it’s this: Don’t work for money, let your money work for you. Even having a little bit working in the background for you adds to peace of mind.

Don’t wait until you’re old with a bad hip. Travel, explore, take classes, and invest in adventures. Why would anyone want to wait to do the things they want to do until their golden, senior years? I’m not trying to be doomy and gloomy but the reality is you have no idea when your life will be over. Do the things you love while you can.
There are many, many other things I could talk about but I do believe this helps with balancing a working life and personal enrichment. Work isn’t all there is to living, that’s for certain.

—April is a well-traveled young woman planting her roots in sunny Seattle, or well, just Seattle. Her writing covers whatever piques her interest and curiousity. Check out her blog here.