“In a rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of
normal are worth rushing back to.”
That was the quote that inspired me to sit down and write this post. I don’t know about all of you, but all this time at home has made me do some serious analysis of my life.
Let’s quickly paint a picture of how my daily life looked pre March 2020.
Get up at 6am. Do my morning routine. Get ready for the day. Go to meetings/events. Shoot photos/video. Reply to emails. Pitch brand collaborations. Send invoices. Pay bills. Speak to my managers about collaborations. Figure out any upcoming travel logistics. Edit photos/videos. Squeeze in 5 minutes for lunch at my desk or on the go. Spend time replying to DM’s. Post on IG, Blog & Youtube Channel. Reply to comments. Brainstorm upcoming content. Finish work around 7pm. Go to a workout class. Shower & dinner around 9pm. Do nightly skincare routine. Go to bed at 10pm.
Not going to lie, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. But this was my ‘normal’ so I kept going day in, day out.
Before I go on, I do want to say, I enjoy a busy lifestyle. I wouldn’t be in New York if I didn’t. Almost 6 years ago, I moved here in search of excitement & opportunity and there’s no doubt about it, I got it. But I can’t help but look back and realize I had become so used to the craziness that I didn’t really even realize how crazy it all was.
Since I’ve had a chance to reflect these past couple of weeks, I’ve really realized how quickly life can pass you by. My industry is a busy one. The more you put yourself out there, (usually) the more return you’ll get. Over the past 6 years here, it’s just what I’ve felt I’ve ‘had to do’.
Every since I was in school, whether it be sports or school work, I’ve always put a pressure on myself to do well. I won’t lie, this does work. I truly do believe that when you work really really hard at something, you’ll achieve. It’s a simple, tried & tested life formula that WORKS. But what I’ve come to realize since getting a little older, often, this pressure can lead to burn out & that same ‘work routine’ every single day can result in a loss of passion. And without passion, you just won’t be able to keep going.
So over the last 2 months, as I’ve gotten used to a much more relaxed lifestyle, actual time to eat lunch every day, less daily emails, no events/meetings, more time with Tommy, evenings/weekends off, LESS pressure/stress….I’ve started to realize that yes, a busy life is fun & I wouldn’t change these past 6 years for anything BUT I’m ready for the next stage of my life now.
*and don’t worry, I’m not leaving NYC (for now anyway) but my life here is definitely going to look different going forward.
So what’s going to change for me whenever I’m able to get back to normality?
1. Work life balance
Honestly, this is something we hear about alllll the time. How to achieve a work/life balance, how to find the perfect daily balance, etc. etc. My thoughts on it? It is impossible to have a perfect work/life balance. I truly believe that there will always be one side that suffers. If you work very short hours, yes, you’ll get to spend lots of time with your friends/family but you won’t excel in your career half as fast. If you work crazy long hours, your career will benefit and it will help you reach your long term goals in that aspect of your life but chances are you’ll have to sacrifice a lot of dinners with friends, time with your kids, trips home to see you parents, etc. That’s just the reality.
Extraordinary results require focused attention and time. Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.
So after quarantine, I’ve decided to have a new take on how I face this constant ‘balance’ struggle. It was actually a recent book I’ve read, The One Thing, that made me look at it all a bit differently. Below is a quote I underlined:
“When you’re supposed to be working, work, and when you’re supposed to be playing, play. It’s a weird tightrope you’re walking, but it’s only when you get your priorities mixed up that things fall apart.”
The author spoke about the the fact that resting is as important as working. He said that successful people launch their year by taking time to plan their time off. By planning your time off in advance, you are, in effect, managing your work time around your downtime instead of the other way around. He emphasized the important of taking *actual* breaks. “Everything needs rest to function better, and you’re no different.”
Something about this just really hit me. Looking back on my life over the past few years, yes I went on lots of holidays/trips, but I honestly can’t even tell you one trip that was a real break. My job entails me documenting my life every single day so switching off on a trip was something I had totally forgotten how to do. In fact, I would usually shoot even more on a trip and try to have my IG feed look even prettier while I had the opportunity to do so. I always joked that I live my life 3 times sometimes. Once for the photo, twice for the IG story and the third time for my Vlog. Even going home to my family in Ireland – it was never truly 100% time off with them as there was always something on my calendar. A last minute job would always come in (especially when I’m back in Ireland) and I would always say yes. I never switched off.
And looking back, I feel really bad – especially about the family trips. So my promise to myself after all this is over is to PROPERLY separate work & time off. I can fully admit I’ll more than likely never have a true 50/50 balance, I just know myself too well. But my new aim is to work when I’m working and rest when I have time off. I’ll now be blocking out a few weeks of the year (something that can be very hard for self-employed people to do but I’m going to make it happen) to spend quality time with those I love while giving myself time to recharge. Quarantine has showed me the power of rest and how clear it can make your mind so it’s something I’ll definitely be bringing forward with me.
2. A ‘new’ New York
Since quarantine started, Tommy & I have got out once a day for a walk and I can hands down say it’s been the silver lining of all this craziness. We chat, we explore New York, we get fresh air – amazing how something so simple (& free) can be and what’s even more amazing to me is that we NEVER used to do this before now. Of course, we went for the odd walk here and there but realistically most of the time, we would jump on the subway or in an uber to get somewhere that we now realize would be so easy to walk to. We also started cycling around the city – something I never did before as I was too scared – which has totally opened my eyes to every little corner of this city. Even after 6 years here, I feel like only in the last few months have I really started to get to know it. We’ve cycled up the west side, through Central Park and back down the east side. We even walked to Central Park from our apartment one day which took us about 90 minutes. We’ve wandered around Tribeca & the West Village. We’ve watched the sun set over the Hudson River. Had cute picnics in quiet parks. It really has been lovely and has made me see a ‘new’ New York.
New York is known for it’s busy-ness, glitz & glamour but behind it all is a beautiful city with beautiful parks & views & streets. It’s opened my eyes and in a weird way, has made me love it here even more.
So going forward, even though I know it will eventually get back to it’s busy self and so will my schedule, every so often, I’ll decline an event invitation to just walk around the city with Tommy instead. I’ve learned that life can be calm here once you allow it and I’ll be bringing that with me for the years to come.
3. Future Planning
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good plan. I love to know what we’re doing next weekend, I love to know what videos I’m shooting next month, I love to know when my next trip home to Ireland is. But if you ask me what I think my wedding will look like or where I see myself buying a house….I don’t have one single answer for you. In short, my long term planning skills/desires have been pretty non-existent over these past few years. Living in New York has made me adopt a ‘live in the moment’ type attitude which I think is totally fine but for some reason, there’s been a big shift in me these past few weeks. As we cycle around the city some evenings, I spot a cute townhouse and I catch myself wondering if that’s what I want to aim towards. Or do I want to build a house in the suburbs? When I’m working on my laptop every day, I’m asking myself is this what I want to be doing for the next 5 years? What’s the next step? Quarantine has finally given me a chance to slow down for the first time in years and ask myself if I’m actually on the track I want to be on.
So another big shift for me during and after quarantine will be to really pin down where I’m aiming to go. It really is true that you design the life you want, so instead of just going with the flow all the time, I’m going to be more mindful of what I’m working towards and why I’m doing it.
4. Time To Chat
I know lots of us are probably getting very tired of all the zooms, lol, but it really has been so nice to chat to friends and family more. Something I was always always trying to be better at before (even though I hate hate phone calls – I don’t know why). I now FaceTime my Mom every single day (which is definitely a habit I’m going to keep up) and chat to my friends so much more too.
5. Less Stress
And lastly, the main thing I’m going to change about my life after quarantine is the amount of stress I allow into it. Let’s face it, we’ve all learned many lessons over the last few months. Lessons about life, lessons about ourselves, lessons about how we react to things, how we cope. And one thing which has stood out to me is that stressing & worrying over little things is something I just no longer want to do. I’m taking the control back. Life is too short. I’m no longer going to events/outings that I don’t want to go to but feel ‘I have to’. I’m no longer hanging out with people who don’t make me feel good. I’m no longer taking on jobs that bring with them a lot of unnecessary stress. I’m just no longer giving time to things that don’t deserve it. Life will be very different once all this is over and quite honestly, I for one, am really looking forward to it.
I really did NOT plan for this post to be so long but when I really get into a post, I just can’t stop writing. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it? It actually felt really good to write it all down and this is a post I’ll definitely look back on to remind myself of these new promises I’ve made to myself. If you also feel like you want to change certain aspects of your life once this is all over, I highly suggest jotting them down somewhere. It just makes it feel more solid.
So thank you so much for reading all my ramblings, haha! I hope you took something from this or it made you think a little about your own life. It’s a crazy time we’re living through but I truly believe we can come out the other side in a much better mainframe and start to appreciate all the little things which are in fact, the big things after all. There are so many things I’ll never take for granted again :)
“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed
and rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be.”