Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice: Ingredients to a Balanced Life

In the past, I’ve struggled to prioritize my job and my life. Sometimes we give up one for the other and usually it’s our life. But who says we can’t change that?

About a month ago, I remember discussing the concept of work-life balance with a good friend of mine over coffee. My friend said to me, “You work too much, but I think it’s because you hide behind your work.”

In the past, I always assumed that my job was simply strenuous, requiring me to devote hours over the weekend. However,
after that one conversation, I remember asking myself if she had a point. Was I using my job to deflect from a larger issue?

The answer is yes.

I realized I was not happy going to work every day, coming home, doing more work and then going to bed. Living in Washington D.C., I didn’t feel like I had embraced the city’s various activities and happenings. As a result, I decided to make some changes. If you’ve found (or still find) yourself in a similar situation, here are a few things that I’ve noticed to be helpful in reigning in that life part of the equation.



2. Sign up for classes

Signing up for classes is great way to meet new people while simultaneously learning new things. There are classes for just about everything: dance, yoga, spinning, cooking, jewelry-making, languages, etc. I once met a girl who was part of a paddle boarding team here in DC. If you like to read, I guarantee there’s probably a book club around where you live.  If you have the time and the money, where’s the harm in trying something new?



3. Volunteer

Perhaps you’re broke. No problem. Volunteering often provides the same benefits as #2, but without pulling funds from your wallet. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens are always looking for people to help out, especially in the winter. My roommate regularly volunteers with a suicide hotline. In DC, many of the museums recruit volunteers to help out with year-round events and activities. Even in suburbs, you can volunteer in old age homes. That’s how I met one of my best friends in high school!




4. Network

Again, this may be more of a city thing (and specifically a DC thing), but networking events are a very smart use of your time. In DC, such events are abundant. There’s networking for global health, education, young politicians-in-making, real estate, Latino professionals, etc. If you are looking to do something outside of going to work and then going straight home, why not squeeze in a networking happy hour in between? At the very least, you’ve got a few business cards that may come in handy someday.

5. Say yes

If you just moved somewhere where you have few to no friends, saying yes to any invitation is absolutely essential. This may very well mean stepping out of your comfort zone and saying yes to something you would normally have declined, but at the end of the day, you’re allowing yourself the chance to make new friends. Speaking from experience, I moved to DC last summer knowing all of five people (two that I was actually close to). But I made it a point to accept any and every invitation from my coworkers (including going to a Drag Race!). Most of the friends I have now are people that I met through these kinds of gatherings. So keep at it and remember to say yes!

Have you ever struggled with achieving the right work-life balance? What’s worked for you? Make sure to comment below or tweet us at @mscareergirl now!  


Ankita Panda

Ankita graduated from Rutgers (go Scarlet Knights!) in May with a degree in Economics. She currently lives in the nation’s capital and works for a public policy nonprofit, analyzing health systems and communications in the global health arena. Quirky, awkward, and sarcastic (but very friendly!), Ankita refuses to adhere to any specific stereotype. Maybe that explains her penchant for watching Frasier, listening to Romanian music, and eating lots of hummus?