The principles, however, are the same: to balance a chequebook or budget you monitor credits and debits. If we apply this methodology to balancing our lives, we analyze where we get our energy, where we spend it, how we spend our time and how we take a little from here and move it over there to cover what’s important to us.
And that’s the key to understanding balance: in order to achieve balance, whether walking a tightrope or crossing a creek by stepping on rocks, it’s more of a back-and-forth rhythm that’s needed to bring you back to centre by leaning more one way or the other. The same is true in life: there could be days or weeks when your focus is more on work because of projects or deadlines, and other times when your family comes first and work is merely another entry on your to do list. And there are times – although most of us don’t admit it – that we could really use a break and make ourselves the priority so that we can heal or refuel.
When we’re establishing a rhythm or balance, there are many variables to throw into the mix. Are you single? Do you have family obligations? Are you responsible for children, spouse, parents and/or the running of a household? Do you work from home? Are you a high-profile executive or entrepreneur? Does your career require travel?
Here’s a simple approach to deciding what to do and how: answer a few questions and then look at your options. You may find that the solutions are small changes you can make that can add up to create a fresh new perspective and routine that boosts your energy and creates time in your schedule for you. Big changes are also possible, if you have the luxury of a leisure allowance, additional family care options, or extra cash to hire help.
First, find a quiet spot where you can think for about fifteen minutes. Ask yourself:
• What’s fueling me? What gives me energy and makes me feel happy/content?
• What’s draining me? What do I do that makes me feel tired, bored or empty?
• What do I do for me? Where am I on my “to do list”? What do I do to care
• What is non-negotiable? Do I have to go to work? Care for children?
• What is negotiable? Be honest here. What am I doing that may not
even be my priority? What am I spending time on that takes away from my
Once you’ve thought about these queations, make some notes. The act of writing it down will give you fodder for drafting your life balance plan. Some things will jump off the page and make you think, “Why do I do this?” Others will seem non-negotiable – at first. At this point you need to be even more honest with yourself. (I didn’t say this was going to be the easiest thing you ever did – is balancing a budget easy?)
Are you doing what you do because your mother always did that? Is it because you think others expect it? (Cool… you’re a mind-reader! Or maybe just an over-acheiver?) Have you negotiated your role in your family, work environment and circle of friends, or have you taken on or inherited responsibilities that you wish would fall off your “to do” list?
There’s always room for maneuvering. But you have to want it, and you have to be willing to renegotiate your role and the contributions made by your family, friends and colleagues. It really is like balancing your finances: it’s a balance of give and take, credits and debits.
Also remember that little things add up. It’s very unlikely that you’ll need to do a complete overhaul to create balance. But with just a bit of tweaking, an honest analysis, some planning, negotiating, and a few trade-offs, you’ll see and feel a big difference.
You can’t “make time” but you can certainly find time. Look for possibilities to edit your “to do” list so that you can carve out more time to build better relationships, pursue passions, and be an energized, balanced, and happier “you”.