Getting your life “in balance” doesn’t mean hanging up the skates, never to do battle again. It doesn’t even necessarily mean less work, more play or more time with the kids (or on the golf course).
What it means is making sure you are living your best life, filling it with the things that bring you joy. Nothing more, nothing less.
Remember when people would be strangely proud of working 60, 70 or even 80 hours per week? They would snortle at those who took time to enjoy a healthy, happy life and who didn’t waste time on things that didn’t bring them joy.
Then, something happened. Was it an awareness that we were spending too much time doing one thing and not others? Was it the simple realization that life is short, that each moment that passes will never return? What makes people realize that NOW is the time to make changes? And what changes do we make?
Whatever the reason, we started looking for something we could embrace that would make us and those around us feel more fulfilled. That “something,” as it turns out, is called “life balance.”
What does life balance mean, anyway? Well, here’s what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing too much of one thing (such as work, a hobby or something you find pleasurable). And it doesn’t mean tearing yourself away from the computer and getting a membership down at the gym. (While that will make you healthier—if you go—it won’t, by itself, give your life balance.)
Not having balance in your life often means that you are spending too much time doing things that you just don’t like, things that are not very satisfying.
When you are thoroughly enjoying the job you love, you don’t count the hours—and you probably don’t complain about being out of balance. When you bring your newborn baby home, you are focused on your child. You are pleased to do it, no matter how hard it is, and you generally don’t complain that you don’t have balance.
Balance is unique to the individual. What does your balance look like? Once you know, how do you achieve it?
Here are a few suggestions:
Do something you love doing each day even if it’s something small. What is it that makes your heart sing? A hobby? Decluttering? Working on photo collections? Listen to music? I’ve noticed that people often love doing simple and very achievable things such as taking a walk, reading a book, having a bath, watching the stars... It’s rarely about a fancy vacation.
Practice mindfulness. Live in the moment. Eat/drive/play/visit/work/explore/walk—live life—mindfully. (See “Being Mindful Benefits the Body, the Mind and the Soul,” June 2018). You don’t need to sit still for long hours to practice mindfulness. You can become more aware of what you are doing on a regular basis like taking a shower for instance.
Meditate. The reviews are in and you can’t beat it if you want to bring a gentler mood to life.
Set aside some time—even just a minute or two—to be grateful. Practising gratitude through journaling is a wonderful way to notice how many great things you have done everyday. And it brings with it a huge, positive psychological effect.
Put the screens—mobile and other devices, gaming consoles, TVs—aside. While some are necessary and some are entertaining, nothing sucks the time out of your day like a mobile device.
Set objectives, monitor progress, and look back at how much you have accomplished.
Set boundaries. At work, at home—create the ability to say NO your superpower. Decide what is important, set the boundaries and work to maintain them.
Take control of your time. (See “Set boundaries,” above). Figure out what is wasting your time (See “Put the screens aside” above). Log what you do. When we start writing down how we spend most of our time, we often realize that it’s on things that are not that important.
Now, can we talk about perfectionism?
Psychology researcher Dr. Brené Brown says that perfectionism is not about achieving excellence (which she is all for), but about saying to yourself, “If I can look perfect, do it perfect, work perfect and live perfect, I can minimize shame, blame and judgment.” She says perfectionists are afraid that people will see who they really are and they won’t measure up. And it’s so stressful!
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is scary, but the price you pay for perfectionism is life-numbing. Learning to let go is important in the struggle to find balance. (See “Perfectionism, Failure, Growth,” December 2017)
Here’s another little piece of advice that take you miles closer to your goal of life balance: DELEGATE.
I know, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, right? No. That’s the cover story you’ll hear from someone who can’t let go. There are four different kinds of things you do in life. Let’s briefly look at each one.
1. Things you love and are exceptionally good at: This is your zone of genius. This is what you want to do most of your time.
2. Things you like, are quite good at: You are in your zone of comfort. It’s not bad, but this is not where you highest potential lies. Take courage, and move up.
3. Things you don’t like but are not too bad at: Delegate. Life is too short.
4. Things you don’t like and are not good at: Delegate. Don’t even think about doing it yourself. Let someone else’s genius shine.
The ideas and suggestions I have presented in this post are not hard-and-fast rules, but keeping them in mind—even trying one or two each week—could give you both what you want and what you need: life balance.
How’s life balance working out for you? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.