Denizens of Los Angeles often bristle when compared to New Yorkers, and vice-versa. Aside from a few generational sour grapes here and there about the Dodgers abandoning Brooklyn for the City of Angeles 60 years ago, it’s usually nothing personal. It’s truer to say that the residents of the east and west coasts’ respective apex cities simply lead starkly disparate lives that cultivate distinctly opposed day-to-day metropolitan rhythms: stereotypically, the no-nonsense perpetual momentum of the Big Apple and the laid-back worldly chill of the City of Angels.
You would never assume that from looking closely at each city’s overall trends in work-life balance. According to one study, the Los Angeles workforce as a whole puts in roughly 4.2 percent more hours on the job each year than their New York counterparts. Surprisingly, it’s actually New Yorkers who take an average of 14 percent more annual vacation days above the global average. In fact, the 13.6 days the typical Los Angeles worker uses places L.A. almost 69 percent below the statistical norm.
That’s not to say the truth of shaping a healthy work-life balance in Los Angeles can be extracted from statistics alone. When taking into consideration the relaxed undercurrents of everyday life in the Golden State, it bears considering that the presence of so many attractions, distractions and recreational opportunities squarely in L.A.’s backyard might negate what could otherwise become a nagging desperation for some prolonged rest and relaxation. Maybe, when one works amidst such a notoriously easygoing atmosphere as what southern California is known for, days on the job flow seamlessly into one another sometimes precisely because L.A. exudes a natural electric vibrancy as scintillating as the summer sun on the Santa Monica Freeway.
However, that also isn’t to say there aren’t ways that every adult in Los Angeles couldn’t enjoy an appreciably more harmonious work-life balance starting today – in fact, right now.
Unplug From Phone & Computer / Schedule Time To Relax
The phenomenal versatility of smartphone technology has roundly transformed the way the world does business. Sadly, remaining perpetually connected to the office hasn’t changed everything for the better. Power down every electronic means of pulling you back into your professional arena, lace up your shoes and disappear down the 2.5-mile jogging path beneath Santa Monica and Venice. The bustling atmosphere of the renowned Santa Monica Pier and gorgeous expanse of beachfront scenery will have dashed any worries once you complete a full five-mile loop and leave you refreshed for whatever awaits you when your grind resumes.
Join A Meetup
Granted, you spend five days a week in seemingly perpetual communication. Nevertheless, block out a few hours the next time angel investment entrepreneur, public speaker and ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ author Tim Ferriss schedules a Los Angeles meetup. He may hang his hat in San Francisco, but when he brings his ‘The Tim Ferriss Show’ podcast to L.A. for a live recording, his insights into the power of never taking work too seriously and mindful goal and priorities are often nothing short of life-changing. For what it’s worth, Nerdist founder and ‘The Talking Dead’ host Chris Hardwick considers him a profoundly influential friend who helped him achieve a more sound personal equilibrium after beginning his recovery from alcoholism. That endorsement from one of Hollywood’s hardest-working men has to count for something, right?
Smile & Be Positive
Yes, it really is that simple. Inevitably, your thoughts become ‘things’. You are always manifesting the focus of your energy into your world. If that’s the natural law, at least zero in on something lighthearted. Try taking in a show at the world-famous Hollywood Improv. This acclaimed comedy club has played host to stand-up legends such as Robin Williams, up-and-coming performers still cutting their teeth and occasional appearances by superstar comedians such as Steve Byrne, Louis C.K. and Dane Cook.
Go Out With Co-workers
Here’s something you and the people with whom you share a workspace almost certainly have in common: eventually, you all need a reminder that life goes on after 5 p.m. Step out, unwind and perhaps even leave yourself open for some networking. The Fat Dog on Fairfax is ideal for snagging a drink and an appetizer amidst a scene that isn’t overwhelmingly crowded. Basement parking is free, it’s easy to find and no sane person could find fault with their 4-7 p.m. happy hour replete with $3 beer, $4 house wines and $5 well specials. There are few better places to quickly blow off some steam and maybe even happen upon some extemporaneous networking. Cheers.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
Listen extremely carefully: the world will go on without you. Nobody designated you the savior of everyone and everything in Los Angeles. If you say ‘no’ to a request for your own good or simply because it isn’t a life-and-death matter and you don’t feel like saying ‘yes,’ the sun will still rise and set on schedule. Drowning yourself in unnecessary obligations because you don’t want to ‘let someone down’ serves only to speed you toward burnout by never affording you a moment to breathe. A better idea? Use at least one of the occasions when you decline a request for your time to buy a general admission seat to a ballgame at Dodgers Stadium. Nothing beats a SoCal ballpark on a perfect day for baseball, and the concession stand sushi is surprisingly tasty.
Don’t Think Work Is Work
Work got you down? Perhaps you’ve been regarding it as a chore a bit too long. Whatever you do for a living, your duties should never cloud your sense that you keep moving closer to a greater reward while feeling fulfilled and thankful to be where you are. However, we all have those days when we would rather see anything and be anywhere except the confines of a cubicle or office. If you’re able, try finagling a day to work out of Cross Campus in Santa Monica. This 24-hour communal workspace seats 50 at its array of tables, lounge chairs, comfy couches and the standing bar and counter, but it also offers private spaces for group projects. When it’s time to wind down once and for all or simply take a breather, the rotating selections of tea and coffee, snacks in the kitchen and available beer are always welcome reprieves.
Ask For Help
No one expects you to heroically shoulder every burden by yourself. Admitting you cannot handle something alone will not shatter all faith in you as a co-worker or a person. Call it a cliche if you must, but nothing demands more bravery than admitting you need help. It can be especially hard to know where to turn for guidance if you own and operate your own business. The California Small Business Development Council’s Los Angeles network has a stunning track record of advisement to ultimately successful entrepreneurs with 42 service centers and six administrative lead centers throughout the area. Their confidential one-on-one consultation and training services are always offered free of charge to help local businesses tap into capital, develop their financial and business models, shape marketing strategies and expand globally and online.
Set Life Goals
If you’ve been traveling the same course for as long as you can remember and can’t recall the last time you were certain you had anything to show for it, rethinking your path might not be the answer. It might be time to question whether you have a definitive set of life goals to look toward at all. Susan Foxley’s monthly ‘F*cked Up to Fixed Up’ workshops are bluntly titled, relaxed seminars focused on the journey from floating aimlessly through life to setting and relishing the progression toward better-defined goals through thorough personal blueprinting and the ‘Law of Attraction’ notion of motivation through positive visualization. Best of all, you’re bound to find a likeminded partner in accountability to walk with you down a newly purposeful path.
We all have the same 24 hours to invest every day as we choose. Time is a fine, nonrenewable resource that, once we spend it, can never be reclaimed. The Long Beach-based group Goal Diggers offers an outstandingly supportive atmosphere for deciding what matters most to you, especially you feel challenged or blocked in specific areas. Each meetup begins with a reminder to see your road ahead strictly through your own eyes to dial in a more personal perspective and how you define success. Choose your destination and decide what allocation of your time will net the greatest overall happiness.
Find Time To Exercise
In addition to the tidal wave of feel-good endorphins a solid workout releases, consistent exercise allows the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system to override the sympathetic branch’s instinctive stress responses with rest-and-digest states that calm everything down. If you should find yourself craving a brand-new fitness experience designed to drag your body and mind out of their comfort zones, you could hardly go wrong with Pound. Available across Los Angeles, these intense classes incorporate cardio, plyometrics, isometric poses and Pilates through a fusion of dynamic dance moves and drumming with quarter-pound Ripstix. For each grueling 45-minute session, you can expect to churn through 15,000 reps throughout more than 30 extended interval peaks designed to burn somewhere between 400 and 900 calories in under an hour. While you sculpt body, you’ll take your rhythm and coordination to new heights and feel fantastic doing it.
Use Your Commute To Decompress
Believe it or not, there’s no better place in Los Angeles to cleanse your mind than in the midst of L.A.’s notorious rush-hour gridlock. As long as you’re stuck on the 405 or Santa Monica Freeway, settle into your car’s upholstery and partake in some deep-breathing exercises to channel your energy into the immediate moment. By grounding your senses exactly where you are right now, you steer yourself away from the depressive potential of dwelling on the past and the rising anxiety that comes with over-thinking the future. Few achievements are quite as uniquely empowering as turning easily the most stressful trevail of life in the City of Angels into a rejuvenating, therapeutic moment of Zen.
These are far from the only avenues for revamping one’s work-life balance in the Los Angeles area. However, everything has to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if your personal reinvention begins from an imperfect place. Before you can climb a mountain, you must welcome taking that first stride. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.
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