As ambitious women, it is easy to get caught up in expectations, which can lead to burn out if we're not careful. As the job market becomes more competitive and the pressure to participate in multiple internships during your undergraduate education increases, it is important to take a step back and find a balance between career growth and wellness. It can be difficult, but here is some advice on how to maintain balance and choose the path right for you.
Make a list of goals for the summer during mid-March
After spring break is usually when the “What are your plans for the summer?” questions come rolling in. When this occurs it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when the answer isn’t quite clear yet. To stay grounded and formulate a plan of action, a good strategy is to create a list of goals for the summer. Try to make them as specific as possible, but with a range of topic areas including personal and professional goals. It is also key to remain flexible, so leave some room for adaptation as the weather gets warmer and school days dwindle.
Make a list of summertime things that bring you joy and would be applicable wherever you are
Along the theme of lists, make a tally of summertime activities and occurrences that bring you joy. Be sure to include more general things that can happen anywhere like eating ice cream or hosting a dinner picnic, but also any specific places or traditions that you have. That way, you can be grateful for experiences unique to summertime no matter where you are living or what internships you may or may not receive.
Practice mindfulness and affirmations
When life is unpredictable, it is important to focus on things you can control. A great way to maintain focus is by practicing mindfulness and affirmations to remind yourself of your values, goals, and positive characteristics. Taking five minutes a day to do some deep breathing exercises and repetitive affirmations will help you stay optimistic and balanced during stressful times.
Be willing to rest
Gearing up for summer is often the busiest time of the year, especially with the added pressure of figuring out break plans and hearing about what everyone around you will be up to. When it all seems like too much, give your mind a break. Turn off your devices, go get some fresh air, move your body, listen to music, or do whatever makes you appreciate life, even if you can just spare a moment. Rest is proven to improve future productivity and reduce health issues that arise due to chronic stress, so incorporating it into your routine, especially during transitional periods, is absolutely essential.
Be okay with disappointment, let yourself feel
Lastly, honoring yourself enough to feel your true emotions, even when those feelings are negative, is the least you can do to stay grounded. Disappointment when expectations aren’t met is human, and it is important to take care of yourself while also understanding that your character, not your accomplishments, determines your worth. The key is being able to recognize negative feelings enough to work through them to reach contentment. This is the only way that balance can be achieved.
Ultimately, all of this advice is rooted in the ability to live in the moment and be grateful for whatever life throws at you. Everything happens for a reason and no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to plan for everything. Comparing your path to others is never productive and while it can be difficult to avoid sometimes, taking these steps to remind yourself that life has a funny way of working out will help you stay on track and not get distracted by negativity and stress.
Cover image made with Canva by Lauren Nixon.