It seems like balance is a never ending quest that we seek in our lives. Oftentimes, our lives feel ‘out of balance’. What does that mean to have a life that is out of balance?
Spending too much time at work?
Not enough time with your family?
If one person feels like they have balance, if you spend the same amount of time in each of those areas as that other person, will you have balance too?
Is balance a certain percentage of play, work, family/friends, health, creativity or spirituality?
I think that balance is so elusive because it’s different for everyone. Introverts and extroverts would certainly be different in the amount of social time that they each need.
Additionally, someone who is an entrepreneur, who is completely excited and energized by her growing business is going to feel very differently about spending 60-80 hours per week at work than the person who considers work as going to ‘a job’.
And I think that balance can shift throughout our lives, depending on what excites us, and what brings us joy.
So, How is it that we feel ‘out of balance’?
To me, feeling out of balance means that the amount of time and effort we are putting into the different areas of our lives is not in line with where those areas are in order of priority.
Balance is what happens when your priorities line up with the amount of time you spend on them.
How do you do that?
Okay – so, I have an exercise for you:
Step 1: Below is a list of priorities. Pick about 10 (could be more could be less). Place them in descending order of importance. Some might be easy. But others could get difficult. In this scenario, I like to play a game here. So, if you have two competing demands, which one gets the edge?
Let’s say that you’re trying to figure out the order of your fitness and work. Here’s the game. You’re walking into a workout, and your phone rings. It’s your boss. Do you answer it?
reach full potential
leaving a legacy
making a difference
Okay – so now that you have your priorities in order of importance, lets move on to step 2 – time autopsy.
Step 2: Over the next few days or weeks, see if the amount of time that you are spending on tasks are in line with your priorities. So, ideally, we want to spend the most of our waking time on your top priority, and then less time dedicated to the #2 item on our list, and so on.
As you do your ‘time autopsy’ (aka: look at exactly where you are spending your time versus what is important to you – there are apps that you can use to do this), realize how much time you’re spending on things that aren’t really that important to you. Can you delegate them? Can you say ‘no’ to them? (do you feel guilty saying no? You shouldn’t – it’s just not a priority for you.)
Now that you know where you are spending your time, where does health come into play with all of this?
One of the objections that I commonly hear is that parents feel guilty if they are exercising, spending time on themselves, and not spending time with their kids.
Sure, when you’re exercising, you’re not spending time with your kids (maybe), but I would argue that when you are well exercised, that when you are with your family/friends, that you’re probably more present than you would be if you hadn’t exercised.
And sometimes this is where spending time on our health gets tricky – because your health may not be a priority for you. However, maybe you want to be a good role model to your daughter? Or maybe travel is important to you, and jet-setting around the globe is a lot easier when you’re not packing an extra 50 carry-on lbs.
So, even though your health may not be a direct priority, its one of those aspects in life that supports other dreams, wishes and desires of how you want to live.
Exercise has been scientifically proven to improve learning, mood, quality of sleep, and reduce stress. And eating high quality, nutritious foods will also improve your mood, clear up brain fog, and help you move better; just to name a few benefits. It’s hard to not find a priority that eating well and exercising supports.
When we’re crunched for time, so often our eating, sleep and exercising habits are the first to suffer. Yet I would argue that I am better able to handle the stress of competing demands when I am well fed, rested, and exercised.
And we can not function at 100% for others in our life if we are not 100% committed to ourselves.
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