**Please note this blog was written before COVID-19
The Global Leadership Program, although very rewarding, is an added weight to the delicate balance of life. Throughout different points in everyone's life there are numerous activities and aspects that need our attention. The struggle is finding what needs our attention when and how much emphasis we should put on it. In this blog post I hope to draw from my own, albeit limited, experiences to offer some guidance in how we, as students and GLPers, can attempt to balance our multifaceted and complex lives.
In regards to most of our current situations there are four key areas that we need to balance: studies and extracurricular activities, social life, personal time and, for most people, casual/part-time work. The most important thing I have learnt about balancing life’s activities is the need to understand this balance as a constant conscious act, like it is for a tightrope walker. We need to be consistently regulating our emphasis on different aspects of our life depending on our current situation and our long term goals.
For example, I am going on exchange next semester and this has completely changed the emphasis that I put on different areas in my life. Due to the fact that I need to be financially stable to maximise my experience living abroad I have put a large emphasis on my part-time work, even though it’s not relevant to my studies or long time career progression. However this decision, like all decisions regarding life balance, was not made without fully understanding and how this will affect other aspects of my life. Preparing for exchange has negatively impacted my extracurricular involvement this semester, specifically in regards to the GLP, as I need as many hours as I can to save money for exchange. The spare time I do have out of work and university I use for study and personal time. By personal time, I mean time that is possibly the most important, and that is time spent for relaxation, reflection or personal growth such as reading, meditating or exercising.
Preparing for exchange has also impacted my social life as I can not afford nor have the time to go to the ‘social outings’ that I previously did. However, when thinking of this in regards to the pros and cons, the pros clearly outway the cons. There are the obvious pros such as travelling, meeting new people and independent growth, but there is also the fact that going on exchange is 100 experiential credit points, meaning the time spent on preparing and missing out on other experiential credit is, for me at least, worth it. In regards to limiting my social life it is important to see it from an objective standpoint as in my long term goals having a semester with less of a social life is in the long run not going to affect me. And of course the fact that I will have plenty of time for my social life during my time abroad.
When comparing this to the way I balanced my life at the beginning of last year it has completely changed; the only constant being my emphasis on my studies/extracurricular and personal time. Last year I moved to a new city without knowing anyone. This led to a natural, yet purposeful, emphasis on my social life to gain new connections and a support network and less of an emphasis on part-time work. Through this complete change you can see how important it is to understand life balance as a fluid process.
In regards to the GLP, life balance is crucial. Everyone’s long term goals are different, but as we are all at university to learn and grow it is important to keep this in mind when deciding how to balance our schedules. With this shift in my life balance I still participated in a few activities to help complete GLP, and obviously to enhance my skills. Volunteering was and is one of those activities. I know many of us would love to do more volunteering than we currently do, but it is often difficult when many volunteer opportunities require a large amount of inflexible hours that don’t coincide well with our university and part-time work commitments. The specific volunteering I do is with Harvest Hub. What we do is pack fresh fruit and vegetables in different bags for Cochlear employees. This specific volunteering is great for those finding it difficult to balance the GLP and other activities as you can either choose to do 11 am-1230 pm on Tuesdays or 12-2pm on Fridays and are able to do it as often or little as you want to. It is a very rewarding experience as you get to meet other GLPers whilst being involved in a community (and of course receiving free fruit and vegetables!). You can apply to the Tuesday sessions here and Friday sessions here.
Finding a balance is important throughout life, but it is especially important now as many of us are beginning our careers and are dealing with competing interests. I wish you the best of luck with finding your balance!