Most people start exploring the matter of balance in their life by talking about a work-life balance. For instance, is my work life taking away from having completely fulfilling relationships with loved ones? How do I know if I’m devoting enough time and energy to these relationships? But what other areas of your life don’t seem balanced?
This idea of work-life balance, begs another question: What are we really balancing between? Is our work-life not a part of our life-life? Often, that uncomfortable feeling related to this matter of living a balanced life stems from a lack of clarification regarding what you value most. Without this identification, it’s nearly impossible to begin truly balancing your life.
Are You Bogged Down Carrying an Ideal that Isn’t Yours?
So, the first thing we suggest you ask yourself is whether there truly is a lack of balance. Or is it possible that you have an idealized mental image about a balance life that you aren’t living up to? We don’t presume that one of these is more true for you than the other. But the steps to take care of the issue would be very different depending upon which case most resembles your own.
What do we mean by an idealized mental image? It seems that the majority of personal growth coaches have their own prescriptions for just exactly what balance means. These folks have developed all sorts of pie charts, star diagrams, graphs, and worksheets that define the different areas of your life, and then show you how to rate yourself in each area. They also suggest it’s best to make sure you score evenly in each area.
When we did one of the above-mentioned balance exercises, we realized that when we mapped out the number of hours a day we spend doing all the different things that keep us busy, we don’t schedule a lot of time to get together with friends and just hang out, have long phone conversations, go out to dinner, or have barbecues at the beach. We spend some time doing this, but not an “equal” amount of time.
We started experiencing this nagging idea that somehow we “should” be doing these kinds of things because we weren’t scoring very well on the balance chart in the area of “friends and socializing.” And if we were scoring low in this area, we were concerned that our life was somehow “out of balance.”
But the thing is, the longer we considered this, the more we realized it wasn’t really creating any “problem” in our life, nor did we feel any discomfort in the moments we were engaged in our business activities.
In fact, we realized that since our “work” is our passion, we couldn’t imagine trading this for time doing something that would be “less fun” in those moments. We found that the balance we’ve achieved between these activities suits us, even though they are not “equal.”
Time Management = Don’t Fix It If It Ain’t Broke!
We’re not much for a one-size-fits-all mentality so we believe that the best way for a person to determine if they have “balance” in their lives is to see whether or not they’re “falling down.” Of course we don’t mean that you’re literally falling down. But if you’re not giving enough attention to an area of your life that’s truly important to you, it’s our experience that you’re going to end up having some problems in that area.
So the next time you have any nagging doubt about whether or not you have a balanced life — stop. Don’t start fixing something unless it’s broken. Ask yourself, “Are there areas of my life that I’m having problems?” If you discover you’re not giving enough attention to an area of your life that’s truly important to you, then this is an area you would do well to devote more attention to.
On the other hand, we ask that you consider whether it’s possible that, like us, the nagging doubt about having “balance” is really holding on to someone else’s ideal that you’ve adopted along the way, and there really is nothing “wrong” here?
You are the only true authority in your life! The most effective time management system begins with the idea that you only invest your time in the things that are most important to you.
How to Manage Your Time to Create Your Best Life
When you ask yourself the question “Are there are areas of my life that are having problems?” you may discover that your intimate relationships are falling down, that having deep, and caring connections are truly lacking for you in your life, or that you’re not having enough alone time to actually relax and rejuvenate.
This is where the new time management system comes in. if you discover areas that are falling down, you begin exploring the ways you are actually spending your time now and what has you spend your time there. This exploration allows you to begin making conscious choices about how you spend your time turning off autopilot and turning on your inner pilot.
When you delve into this area, you may find you’re spending some of your time doing things that you aren’t really enjoying in some moments. If so, you may want to ask yourself if you’re doing those things because you “want to” or because you think you “have to.”
If it’s because you think you “have to,” then we suggest you start keeping a close eye on how much you’re enjoying how you’re spending your time. Start figuring out how much you value each of the activities that fill up your days. At that point it shouldn’t be too hard for you to determine which things you would be willing to spend less time doing.
New Strategies for a Truly Balanced Life
Your next step would be to come up with specific strategies for doing less of what you enjoy doing least. You can fill this newly freed-up time with what’s missing for you now, such as activities that offer the opportunity for caring connections with people. Then it’s simply a matter of committing to these new strategies. You’re in control of how you live your life, and getting a handle on attaining what’s important to you will change your life forever.
You may notice that it really doesn’t matter if you find you’re being nagged by some adopted ideal, or if something truly is missing. Either way, the first step in beginning to have more of what you want in your life is to figure out what is truly important to you. Then let go of anyone else’s idea of what “should” be important to you. And the surest way we know for you to find what’s important to you is to do what feels best to you in every moment.
Once you’ve identify what you enjoy and what you don’t, you can begin balancing your life by focusing more on the areas you enjoy and doing less of those things you don’t. If you can accomplish this, or even just begin to practice it, this will certainly change your life for the better as it will lead to achieving balance that’s tailored to you and your personal values.