My clients often tell me they struggle with life balance but they misunderstand the concept. To most, they have a perfectionistic mindset about what it is, so they give up on it as an objective. If this is you, I’m confident these 12 tips will help.
Life balance, the way most understand it, isn’t possible. But, don’t give up on it. It’s a healthy objective (e.g., aim) but not realistic. Confusing, right? Check out these tips below.
12 Life Balance Activities
1. Trust Yourself
Trust yourself to know when you need to invest more into one area of your life and less in another. Listen to your intuition. If your gut tells you that you should take a break from work and play cards with your daughter, do it. It’s the most productive thing you’ll do all day.
Become aware of the areas in your life you’re neglecting and make adjustments. Make hard choices to shift energy out of some areas (e.g., career, financial, etc.) and into others (eg., social & fun, spiritual growth, etc.). Acceptance of your reality right now is necessary for change.
2. Have More Fun
Most people don’t have enough fun. Don’t give all your best energy to your career. Make a list of fun activities that you enjoy and engage one of them today. My fun list: Ping pong, reading, golf, darts, and watching sports. Your overall productivity will increase as you have more fun.
3. Track Your Work Hours
For two weeks straight, at the end of each day, write down how many hours you worked. Be sure you include weekends. You may be surprised at the percentage of your weekly 168 hours going towards your job. People who resist this activity usually do so because they already know they work too much.
4. Set Goals
Goals are friends of life balance. They help you remember what you want most and help you focus your attention. Set goals, not just in one area of your life, but throughout the 7 different life areas listed below.
Spiritual: Faith community, spiritual disciplines, prayer, scripture, service, etc.
Family: Marriage, parenting, extended family, closest friends, etc.
Health & Self Care: Diet & nutrition, exercise, water intake, rest, sleep, medical care, etc.
Intellectual: Reading, learning, intellectual development, intellectual conversations, etc.
Social & Fun: Hobbies, recreation, adventure, relaxation, humor, etc.
Career/Business: Talent & technical skills, professional development, etc.
Financial: Planning, budgeting, stewardship of resources, communication around money, etc.
5. Have a Friend Help You Prioritize
Prioritization requires saying “no” to good opportunities. Share your schedule with a friend and get their opinion. Are you trying to do too much and/or neglecting parts of your life? Listen to what they have to say. My friends help me have healthy expectations and stay on track.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage —pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” – Steven R. Covey
6. Establish Deadlines
Deadlines are also life balance allies, especially artificial deadlines you take seriously. They decrease perfectionism and procrastination because they put pressure on you to get something done, even if it’s imperfect. Scarcity leads to creativity it forces you to be creative as it eliminates options. Once you establish a target date, it’s much harder to delay. Set a time limit for something you’ve been putting off.
7. Some is Better Than None
Just doing something is better than nothing. Maybe you don’t have time for a 45-minute workout, so work out for 15 minutes instead. If you cannot make time for lunch with your good friend, talk on the phone for ten minutes or grab some coffee over Zoom.
8. Done is Better Than Perfect
Get a project or task completed. With most things, you can go back and make changes later. Get something crossed off your task list today. Minimize distractions and get it done!
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony” – Thomas Merton
9. Use The Life Wheel
Assess your level of satisfaction in each area of your life on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is low and 10 is high. When it falls below a 7, do something to get it back up. Here’s a life wheel assessment that can help. It often helps to put the majority of your energy, for a brief period, into the area you would rate the lowest.
10. Define Your “7” In Each Part of Your Life
You might not be satisfied in an area because of unrealistic expectations. “Good enough” is better than “perfect” when it comes to living a balanced life. Write down what a “7” rather than a “10” looks like in each area. Challenge, and possibly tame your standards.
11. Do Something New
Do something outside your normal routine. Go on a walk. Volunteer. Go camping. Play a new game. Reconnect with old friends. This may feel awkward at first, but if you stick it out, you won’t regret stepping outside your box. Make a list of 5 new things you can do. Be vulnerable!
12. Plan Your Calendar for the Next 12 Months
Put major commitments on your calendar. You can always make changes later, but this gets the process started. Put everything on this calendar besides work activities. This will force you to put some focus on things outside of work.
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How to Apply These Tips
Here’s what I would suggest you do with this information. Application leads to transformation. You must take action for change to happen.
1. Start with a change you believe will help the most
Your intuition may tell you which tip will help the most. Trust yourself.
2. Do what’s easiest for you
Maybe all the tips seem helpful. Just do something. Make the change that seems the easiest for you given your life circumstances today.
3. If you have the energy, apply one tip each day
This is for the high-octane method. Committing in a big way can be helpful.
4. Apply one tip each week
For steady application over 12 weeks, this is the way to go. Cross one tip off your list each week and journal about your progress. It’s ALWAYS a good time to work on yourself!
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