This is a great time of year to do some serious reflection about how life is going. If we don’t periodically take this inventory of our lives, there’s tendency to feel like life is happening to us, instead of us making decisions that line up with our personal goals. This is a time to bring balance and sanity to our lives, ushering in a greater calm and enjoyment of life. Life is short, and it is precious.
Take a quick evaluation right now of how you are feeling. Get out a pen and paper. Sit in a quiet place, breathe. Tune in to how you are feeling, and write those sensations down. Are you feeling stressed, burnt out, anxious, overwhelmed? Write it all down. This isn’t for you to share (unless you want to), but for your own awareness.
I found a few quotes that really resonated with me. Here they are.
“When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfillment and gratitude, and that’s when you can do your best… for yourself and for others.”
“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.”
Nathan W. Morris
“She designed a life she loved”
Time for Tough Questions
There are a few tough questions / soul searching that you might want to ask yourself. Be honest with yourself. Am I addicted to busyness? Do I need to place some boundaries at work to improve my life quality? What are the areas in life that I am feeling most overwhelmed? Rate these in order of stress.
Are there some self imposed expectations that simply need to be let go of? We need to stop the glorification of busy. We actually don’t have to do it all. What societal pressures we cave to, out of habit or whatever, that needs to go? I might step on some toes here, but kids’ extra curricular activates might be a big one. Sports is one area that can have huge society pressure. Don’t underestimate the value of simple family time. I know sometimes there is a choice to sacrifice for the extra curriculars, just make sure it is a conscious choice. Keep it in balance, and don’t allow it to completely overrun the life of everyone in the family.
When one of my sons was in grade school, he had a teacher who consistently gave ‘homework’ projects that required parental help. On a Friday. Every week. I’m sure she thought she was trying to create family bonding. I deeply resented those assignments. I get angry even now when I think about it, the attempt to control our family weekend time. I had a serious discussion with the teacher about this practice, and how my child would not be participating. I set a clear boundary that weekends were family time. I was prepared to take the issue further up the ladder, if needed. It wasn’t an easy thing to do for sure, but it brought much greater peace and joy into our weekends. That was a far greater need for all.
Conversely, what energizes us? What brings rest to our souls? Can you identify ways in which you can simplify life? Some of these could involve major life changes, while some may be relatively minor. The more stressed and overwhelming life is, in general the solution be more of a radical change needed. I have had to make some very extreme lifestyle changes in the last few years, to bring greater balance. It was worth it!
Work Life Balance a Common Term
The term ‘work life balance’ is one most people are very familiar with. Numerous U.S. companies have programs to help employees to strike a better life balance by providing health club benefits, on site child care, additional time off for occasions like the birth of a child, and other benefits (of course, a huge population of employees are not offered these types of advantages).
Despite the awareness and attempts to bring better balance, US citizens are generally still some of the most over-worked, and lead some of the most hurried lifestyles there are. With all of this talk of work life balance, why aren’t there greater changes in this area of daily life? The answer is simple; many of us talk about work life balance, but fail to implement the changes needed to actually reap the benefits.
The bottom line advantage to bring balance and sanity to life is minimizing tension and stress in your lifestyle. Stress and anxiety can be very detrimental to a person’s overall health. There are doctors who believe that stress is the root of all poor health issues. It can cut our very lives short, and reduce enjoyment of what we do have. There’s a book that strongly speaks into this: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.
For some people, there is an illusion of work life balance in that they may have applied it to areas of their jobs. Yet, their lives are heavily overloaded on the non-work hours. This creates still another form of being off-balanced and is crazy making behavior.
Accomplishing a realistic work life balance doesn’t mean cramming more and more activities to the lifestyle portion of the equation. Some think this is how to balance out a high-octane work life. Accomplishing effective work life balance implies moderation and minimizing stress in life, in both personal and work related sides of issue.
Rate Your Goals
Consciously determine what is really important in your life. Write those down and rate them from most important to least. Complete a, realistic assessment about your main life goals. Perhaps seek honest feedback from a good friend, relative, significant other, or spouse. Taking the steps on the quest for a balanced enjoyable life means reducing the gap between what you desire, and what you can actually do.
Using your calendar for appointments is a life thing, not just work related. Include individual routines into your schedule, to help you see a more realistic view of where the hours are being spent. Examples of what to put in the calendar include exercise, meal prep, shopping, cooking, cleanup, and other daily tasks. Don’t forget to add to the calendar children or spouse events that require something of you.
Streamline Similar Tasks
Look for ways to streamline and similar tasks to maximize results. Don’t check your email all day. It can be a huge interruption causing you to loose precious time elsewhere. Carve out a couple times a day to do that task, then complete everything related to it. Attempt to do the same with your phone calls, if possible.
Don’t give in to peer pressure which in adulthood can easily translate into the “keeping up with the Jones’” thing. You will see many people around you that are workaholics and choose to be, but it doesn’t mean you must follow suit.
You might enjoy my post Design Your Own Calendar This Year.
Take the time needed to reflect to bring balance. The journey to finding a healthy, joyful, balanced life. Many times less is more. A happier you brings greater joy to those in your life. You, and those around you are worth finding balance.
Until next time,
Good book that relates to all of this as well