We have overstretched our personal boundaries and forgotten that true happiness comes from living an authentic life fueled with a sense of purpose and balance. – Dr. Kathleen Hall
There’s no question we want great things for ourselves and for our loved ones. However, many of us are stuck without knowing how to create the life we want. We regret the fact we sometimes have to live paycheck-to-paycheck; or our relationships are not as satisfying as we want them to be; or our lives are simply not balanced and we are not going in the direction we had hoped.
Some believe the notion of a truly balanced life is only a myth. With too much to do and with too little time to do it, anxiety and stress replaces happiness much of the time. However, there is hope, because the ability to change our lives exists in all of us. We just need to learn how to become more balanced.
Living a balanced life is the ability to take all that life throws at us from our careers, home, health and everything else, and put it in a central location so we can reframe it in order to better understand it, learn from it and grow from it.
The following life balance strategies provide a roadmap; a handbook of sorts, to begin the process of living a balanced life each day.
Create a Vision
Before you start, you ought to know where you want to go. The lack of not having a plan is what keeps some folks from creating the life they want because they have no idea what they want in the first place.
A life vision is not an etched in stone deal that can never be changed; but rather, it is a high-level vision statement that goes something like, “this is what I want from my life.”
For me, I want to meet, or exceed, the financial and emotional needs of my family. I want to be in control of my future and give myself the ability to have choices with my career. I may not achieve all of these things every single day, but this vision is what gives me focus and a very good idea of what a balanced life looks, and feels like, when I’m struggling and veering off course.
Identify Your Goals
Your life’s vision is what provides governance to how you want to live; your goals are the tactical components of your vision. Your goals help make your vision a reality. For the most part, goals are measureable and quantifiable.
Goals can vary in size and scope. One goal might be to retire at age 50 in order to begin living your life’s passion and another might be to find one evening during the week when you and your partner can go out and spend some time alone.
Often, our lives feel out of balanced when we have not clearly defined our goals or we are not actively pursuing them. Take time each week; each day, to consider what you want to accomplish. Make a plan to align your activities to your life’s vision.
Do what’s important first. The distractions of email, text messages, and mind-numbing television can keep us from focusing on what is truly important.
In order to spend time on activities that support you life’s vision and will keep you daily life in better balance, consider these productivity tips:
- Have at least one hour of email amnesty each day at work, or try to shut-off your email one day each week.
- Get up at least 15 minutes earlier each day to give yourself a better head-start and use this time to make your plan for the day.
- Make a list – mental is fine, but written is better, of the things you need to accomplish and the things you want to accomplish for the day.
- Be on the outlook for time-killers such as planting yourself in front of the television or thinking of who to call next on the telephone instead of addressing the items on your to-do list.
- Know what you value most in life and then spend more time there.
Five Golden Minutes
Take five minutes each day and consider what worked for you and what didn’t. Look at the things that made you feel successful and happy compared to those that contributed to anxiety and stress.
Look for patterns. Living a balanced life is about identifying and doing more of what’s working and less of what is not. Stop and think if your actions and thoughts support your vision and goals. Nurture the ones that are effective and adjust the ones which are counterproductive.
Pay Attention to Your Body
If you are feeling fatigue and worn down at the end of the day, or find it difficult to get up in the morning, these are signs you are doing too much. Persistent headaches, constipation, and sexual dysfunctional are all warning signs your body, and your life, are out of balance.
Your body is an excellent sounding board. It will tell you a lot about the quality of your life if you choose to listen.
Ask for Feedback and Help
I’m not sure any body has everything figured out. Asking for feedback is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of resolve and determination. It shows a commitment to wanting to improve your life and for learning how to balance everything thrown at you.
Reach out to those who have experienced what you are experiencing and seek their guidance. When you don’t know how to do something, it’s OK to ask.
Stuff happens. Sometimes we are thrown a curveball when we are expecting a fastball.
My son, Andrew, plays baseball for his high school team. There are times when he is down in the count no balls and two strikes. This is the time the pitcher usually throws some junk, either an off-speed pitch or a curveball. Andrew takes his hands all of the way back and waits. But instead, a fastball comes.
In less than an tenth of a second he has to make the important adjustment to try to throw his hands at the pitch and see what happens. Sometimes he is successful, often times he is not, but he still commits to making the adjustment. There is a good lesson here for the rest of us.
We can think something is expected to happen, and then unexpectedly, something else happens instead. Life is dynamic. Yes, it’s good to have a plan, but a big part of any plan is the contingency plan that stands right behind it. Having a good back-up plan can help us keep our balance when we see the fastballs coming.
Rest and Relax
Taking a time-out now and then isn’t a luxury as much as it is a necessity. It’s important to take a step back and process everything going on in your life. Your vision can be a lot clearer when you are not so close to the situation.
Rest your body and a sharper mind will follow. Use your new-found energy and clearer thinking to help you keep your balance as you navigate through some rough waters. Solid footing is always close by. We just have to be mindful we need its stability from time to time.