Putting in some extra effort at work can pay off. You can get a promotion or a raise, or wind up on a choice project. The same goes with your personal finances — going the extra mile can help you pay off a debt early or save up for a purchase. You can push through to success in just about anything. But once you’ve achieved your goal, it can be hard to keep up that level of effort. If you’ve been staying late every night to finish a project, you don’t want your boss to start thinking that’s the level of effort you can commit to every project. If you cut way down on your expenses, you don’t want to live a spartan lifestyle forever.
Just the same, however, you’ve seen your work pay off. You don’t necessarily want to give up every perk that all that extra work got you. In order to find balance, you have to find a way to keep that momentum going, without driving yourself over the edge with all that effort.
Looking for Balance
Keeping up an extreme pace for weeks or even months can turn your extraordinary effort into something that you consider quite normal. That trap can make it hard to take a step back and decide whether you can really keep up this level of effort. However, it’s a necessary step: when you’ve accomplished your goal, considering the work that got you there is important. Of course, your work alone isn’t the cost of completing a project or reaching a goal. There are other costs, like the time you’ve been able to spend with your friends and family, your own comfort or even your health.
Life isn’t a balance sheet, but you can tell the difference between your lifestyle at a project’s beginning and at its end. Depending on the benefits, you may decide that keeping up your exertion is well worth it: maybe getting a raise means that you’re getting paid enough to make an increase in your workload well worth your while. But, then again, you might decide that you need to reintroduce yourself to a few things that have been missing in your life: if you stopped going out entirely in order to save up money, allowing yourself the occasional night out isn’t the end of the world — and it might do you a little good.
If you can decide just what you’ve cut that you want back, you can tell just how much effort you are willing to put into keeping momentum on your goal. Think about the example of saving money by cutting entertainment expenses: you may be willing to continue to keep those expenses down, but with at least a little bit of a budget for fun with your friends. You won’t negate all that hard work of saving money — keeping up at least some of the momentum of your original goal and maintaining your success — but not depriving yourself of all entertainment.
Setting Up Balance
Once you’ve got an idea of how far you’ll go to maintain your success, you can go about reintroducing balance to your life. You may need to inform a few people of your plan to do so, though. If you’ve been putting in 12-hour workdays, it’s probably a good idea to inform your boss of the fact that you won’t be doing that anymore. Many employers will revise their expectations upwards if you’ve gone the extra mile — it stops being extra and becomes required. You don’t want an employer to think you’re suddenly slacking off. But sitting down and talking out the matter can be all that it takes to step down to a more sustainable schedule.
Depending on just what your goal was, you may find that other considerations must be made. Perhaps your friends or family members changed their schedules in deference to yours: changing that schedule back may be difficult. Being willing to compromise might come in handy if you are ready to cut back on your effort in other areas. Unfortunately, creating a bit more balance in your life may not be as simple as waving a magic wand, but it possible with a little consideration.
Key to creating balance is ensuring that you do follow through on any commitments you made upon achieving your goal. Maybe you set a secondary goal — something that provided a little continuation and helped you take advantage of the rush of meeting your initial ambition. Or maybe you have a new project set for you by someone else as a product of your prior effort. You may not be in a position to throw quite as much at your new goal as your last, but if it is important enough for you to follow through on, you’ll find yourself putting at least some effort into it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re able to maintain balance with other parts of your life in the long run. But you may need to set a few initial limits to ensure that any new projects won’t consume your every waking moment.
With a little care, all that extra effort won’t become an every day expectation. If you’re willing to prioritize other parts of your life, you can build on your successes and keep some momentum without working yourself to the point of going crazy.
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