The Balancing Act
One of the most common questions I receive on my Instagram is how do I manage my work ventures with my riding career and everything else that happens to land on my plate?
I’m tackling that topic right here, right now.
These days, I find myself wearing various hats when it comes to business relations. First and foremost, I’m a real estate agent with my family’s firm located here in the Hill Country. I love working in this industry, shoot; I basically grew up in this industry! There is always something new around each corner and you’re able to play a key role in creating special memories for clients. In addition to real estate, you can also find me working as a Creative Director for a women’s clothing line owned and operated by one of my very best friends. I manage a large bit of her social media campaigns, email blasts, blogs, and help when I can at certain events, model, etc.
THEN, we have The Blonde & The Bay, which is my own business that started with the #MareMantra tee shirt back in 2016. I feel as if this shirt was the beginning of it all, and I’ve channeled that creative energy into building my blog even more. We have some fun; new collaborations and merchandise in the works as well as a trip to Wellington, Florida come the end of March to network. I can’t wait to bring you all along on this adventure. I have something special that I’m pumped to share in regards to the Wellington trip, too… Stay posted for that.
I should also mention that I’ve been sending out my resume´ like a mad woman in order to find yet another business to help build their social media. It’s my creative passion, I guess. Plus, more income.
Now, you can add all the other factors of my life into the mix, why dontcha. We have Leah and dressage and we have team roping and Barrett’s horse, Blue Duck. Blue Duck is boarded at a self-care facility, so Barrett and I sometimes take turns with feeding and basic barn responsibilities. His riding usually happens in the evenings after he’s off of work and I’m meeting him at the barn come 4:30PM. You then have all the more “adulting” things, like chores; managing grocery runs, laundry, cooking, cleaning, our dogs, budgeting… you catch my drift.
I won’t sugar coat. It can be a lot to handle, especially when the woes of financial stress can sometimes hit you hard. However, over the years, I’ve found a system that works for me. It allows me to balance my time so I’m able to do the things I love. What works for me might not work for you, but I’m hoping you can pull tidbits from my tips and apply them to your schedule. If I helped you in some shape or form, then my heart is full!
This is my planner! I found it on Amazon for just under $8.00. I'll link it HERE.
Invest in a planner. This is my number one tip, especially if you’re a visual person like me. I used to think I could remember all the things without writing them down, but I was sadly mistaken. Personally, I think a planner is a glorious invention that allows you to maximize your organizational skills. When you write your obligations down so they’re right under your nose, you’re able to sort through them by importance. Because I have no set schedule with all of my work, writing down events, deadlines, or tasks down in an order of importance is how you can find my days outlined. This way, I know how much time I have to do other things (like ride) before duty calls.
Make it happen. I understand work schedules vary and I know setting your own schedule is not 100% common. When I was working in a boutique with required hours, I had to find ways to make my FEI riding career happen or else I knew my dreams would fizzle. My mom always told me that if you want something badly enough, you just make it happen, and that’s exactly what I did. I woke up early and found myself saddling Leah by 8:15AM… the barn is an hour away from my house, for reference. I’d have my lesson, grab some lunch for the car, and be at work by my clock-in time. I utilized my weekends as designated barn mornings and I even rode in the later evenings just before sunset. I also try to remember that each training ride doesn’t have to be a set 45 minutes to an hour. If Leah is giving me a great feel in the bridle and we’re able to do 2 things correctly, I’ll call it a day. A short, productive ride is always better than the alternative.
It’s okay to say “no.” I’m a prime example of someone who occasionally spreads herself too thin. I come by it naturally, though. I’m an over achiever… perfectionist… OCD… it’s who I am. It’s a blessing and a curse. Over the years, I’ve trained myself that saying “no” is an okay, healthy thing. You have to set boundaries for yourself. Over exerting, or pushing your mental or physical health to hit deadlines (or goals) is an exercise in futility. You’ll burn out so fast! I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t engage in anything that doesn’t provide inspiration or passion, whether that is work, relationships, friendships, hobbies or anything of that nature. If you feel as if something is bringing you more strife than peace, just say no.
Manage your time and then balance How I live my life! Learning to manage time is tricky because it often seems as if there are never enough hours in the day. This is when having a planner comes in serious handy. Prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize. Set up your week to where you can accomplish the things that mean the most to you. If you’re in school, great! Tackle that homework, even if it means staying up past your bedtime so you can ride for 30 minutes the following morning. If you work an 8-5 job, fantastic! Pack a set of riding clothes in your car so you can head to the barn straight from work. Take your lunch or breakfast with you to save time and the hankering for unhealthy fast food. If you can save time at the grocery store by using a curbside pickup service, do it (I do!). If you have a meeting at lunch, set your alarm for an early morning ride. Once you find the balance and manage your time, you’ll be surprised in what all you can accomplish in a day. I promise, it’s not as daunting as it looks.
Never feel guilty I struggle with guilt even as I’m typing this very article. Feeling guilty about not having the chance to ride is a huge no-no… I need to take my own advice periodically. Let's be real, if you’re an adult amateur like me, there are days where getting to the barn just isn’t feasible. That is totally fine. Leah is not complaining that she doesn’t have to work, nor is she holding some sort of metaphorical grudge that we didn’t get to school suppling exercises. If you carry guilt, how can you knock out tasks in your shiny new planner with a clear mind? You can’t, I’ve tried. Accept the fact that adult amateur life is a beautiful thing; they call us the “backbone of the sport” for a reason.
It’s also totally fine if your trainer rides your horse I sent this writeup to my Instagram BFF, Emily (@emilyblackdressage) so she could proofread before I click the “publish” button and she suggested adding a solid idea: “paying your trainer to do a ride if you are busy/taking a week off or having a friend hack, etc. if you are swamped in other areas of your life.” This helps my stress level immensely. When I’m not able to ride, I know Leah is still staying conditioned. I’m also NOT feeling guilty about it either because that is what I’m paying my trainer for… help and knowledge! Like Emily mentioned, if you don’t have access to a trainer, perhaps consult a fellow riding friend who you trust for the times you can’t get in the saddle.
Set a time where your riding/business mind shuts off The evenings are my hour to unwind, relax, and spend the moment with Barrett, or friends, or family. We cook dinner, engage in conversation with each other, and most importantly, we try to put the iPhone’s away. Our brain can only process so much information in one day! I’ve found that limiting my screen time keeps me from reaching the point of becoming overwhelmed. In return, this helps keeps my mind (and emotional health) balanced and fresh. I’m able to wake up the next morning feeling motivated and ready to conquer the day’s tasks.
Managing your time is a multifaceted technique. It’s a combination of aspects that all work together like an oiled machine. Well, most of the time anyhow. My final tip is the most important: take care of yourself. 2019 is the year I decided to indulge in self-love. Towards the end of 2018, I was feeling entirely burnt out in different areas of my life, but especially riding. I knew something had to give. I took time away from the saddle. I treated myself to new skin care, I signed up for Care Of Vitamin packets, and I changed my diet. I made the decision to put energy into friendships where the feeling is reciprocated and I reached out to people I knew were missing from my life due to one reason or another. It might sound silly or cliché, but these little changes have amounted to great things. If you’re feeling burnt out, I encourage you to reflect and remove nagging stressors from your soul. Just from my experience, this will open so many doors whether it’s work, riding, and relationships… anything! It’s helped me manage my time and has allowed me to do what I love. It doesn’t get much better than that, right?