We are constantly searching for equilibrium in our existence. The quest for a balanced life more often than not seems like an exercise in futility. We struggle to find time for ourselves, our family and our friends while climbing the latter of success as best we can. Our quest for balance is a constant that will change with time, as we ourselves change.
Balance is often categorized as work/life balance. The reason for this is because work is where we tend to spend the majority of our time. So we have to balance work into every other aspect of our life. There are so many more aspects to our lives than work. And reality is that we are balancing so much more than just work...and all of it at the same time.
We are balancing the wheel of our lives. The balance wheel encompasses the following aspects of your life:
Lets look at each spoke of the wheel in a bit more detail.
We work to earn a living. We work to earn money to do the things we enjoy. Some of us even work because we enjoy it. But others of us perceive work as negative. We view work as daunting and undesirable. Wouldnt it be great if we all had work that brought us personal satisfaction and enrichment? The challenge is to know your passion and try to devise a plan to exploit your interest in work without running other parts of your life. But remember, its not about being a workaholic. You can attain your goals through creativity and resourcefulness. Learn to delegate. Assume responsibility with pride and ownership. But do not allow yourself to become entangled by a web of your own weaving. It is not necessary to you do it all, but to do what you can do well. Organize and prioritize. As you climb the ladder of success, you also need to learn your limits. To what extent are you willing to sacrifice your personal life to achieve your professional goals?
Your body is the machine that works to ensure that you are able to live your life. Preventative maintenance is imperative in the pursuit of a successful physical life. We age and our bodies start to betray us. Too often we allow other aspects of our lives to mask the importance of good health. And we shouldnt. We should be doing things to create wellness. You know the mantra eat well and exercise. Have you noticed how when you do honor your body, how good you feel, physically as well as emotionally? How much more energy you have to do the things that you want to do? Yes, this all takes time and effort. But it is time and effort that will pay off with a healthier happier you.
Happiness of spirit is another important aspect of our lives spirit in terms of sense of self, spirit in terms of being. Your spiritual life includes your quest for meaning and purpose. How and when each of us finds your sense of spirit is uniquely personal. Your sense of spirit may or may not include a vision for faith in your life. This vision for faith may or may not be driven by organized religion. Or you might find your spirit simply by being charitable or volunteering. Spirit can be as simple as choosing to be good person. If you chose to be a good person and accept responsibility for your values and principles, then you will live what you learn about yourself and about others.
Its not just a concept for children. You schedule play dates for your children, but what about for yourself? The play area of adult life is most often thought of as activities done for leisure such as relaxing after work or taking a vacation. What do you do to enjoy life? Do you laugh enough? Do you play enough? Sometimes it is simply a matter of leaving work at work. We are all too connected sometimes cell phones, laptops where does it end? It ends where and when you let it end. When you leave the laptop at home, turn off the cell phone and decide that vacation is truly vacation.
Besides vacation, what do you do for fun?
Your thoughts and emotions affect everything you do the way that you see things, all that you are. Sometimes, we allow our mind to control our emotions and let our emotions get the better of us. And sometimes thats okay. Are you the kind of person who focuses on the negative first instead of the positive? Do you look at the glass as half empty or half full? Your mind also controls your ability to communicate not just to talk but to listen and interact. If you open your mind and try to focus on positive thoughts and actions, you are sure to find a wondrous world of possibilities.
Your space or physical environment includes your home, your office and your car. Our physical space is a true reflection of ourselves. How many of you feel that you are really organized? How many of you would instead describe yourselves as a pack rat? How many of you answered yes to both questions?
Your home should provide you with a sense of well being. Some of you may spend more physical time at the office rather than at home. But isnt it nice to come home to a safe place, a peaceful respite?
Our space should look lived in, not sterile. We need to learn to honor our space as we want to honor ourselves.
Another way that we honor ourselves is by the people who are part of our lives. Different relationships - friend, wife, lover- mean different things to different people. We maintain relationships with everyone our parents, spouse or partner, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers and the community.
From time to time, we need to examine whether or not our current relationships are emotionally healthy for us. Are they supportive, nurturing or simply convenient? There are no easy solutions to change a bad relationship into a good one. The goal is to seek out and enjoy emotionally healthy relationships with people who are responsive to your needs and you in turn to theirs.
Can money buy you happiness? Maybe, maybe not. In every area of your life, there are goals that cost money and others that cost absolutely nothing or very little. Money can be the ends to a mean. It can also be one of the biggest issues that couples disagree about. We all have our own distinct money personalities on how we save, earn, spend and invest. And as in everything else, we need to know ourselves. Is financial success important to you? And what does that really mean?
No matter what your fiscal goals are, you have to know where you are now and know where you want to go. You need to separate your wants and your needs. Then you have to plot a productive path to reach your destination. You need to learn your risk/reward comfort level when investing. While money can sure be fun to spend, it is important to learn to live within your means. And of course none of this is easy.
The Balance Wheel
The balance wheel So many things are constantly competing for our time and our energies.
One cant help but feeling a bit frustrated just thinking about the balance wheel in its perceived perfection. But, do not despair. The perfection is a myth. Lines intersect whether you can visualize it or not. And none of us can do it all, at least not all at the same time.
Create a balance wheel for yourself. Make a big circle and divide the circle into eight sections, naming each section with one of the spokes of the balance wheel.
To begin, give each separate spoke of the wheel an importance score from zero to ten. This score should reflect how important that area is to your life. A score of 10 means it is really important to you. A score of 0 means it is not! Do not try to rank the spokes from 1 to 10, especially since there are only 8 spokes of the wheel! There doesnt need to be any real sense of order of priority. Each spoke of the wheel gets its own independent ranking. Not everything should be a 10. But it is possible for several spokes of the balance wheel to be of equal importance to you.
Try to be realistic and forthcoming with yourself in determining your scores. Creating a Balance Wheel means looking at what is uniquely important to you. And everyones wheel will look different.
Now go one step further. Re-rate each spoke of the wheel with a satisfaction score. This score will reflect the how satisfied are you with the reality of that area of your life today. The scoring is similar to the importance score with 10 reflecting the highest level of satisfaction.
Now do one last thing. Pick two areas that you scored as being important to you but had low personal satisfaction scores. These are the areas of your life that are really out of balance at this point in time. This is what you should be concentrating on so that you can improve your personal satisfaction score.
Then take some time to create a Strategic Balance Plan. Outline steps you can take can realistically take in the next week and/or the next month to work on this area of your life. Lastly, set some accountability so that you will clearly know that you have achieved your goal. Be realistic in assessing not only your perceived need but your strategy to achieve it.
Thinking about your life in this introspective way will help you gain self-knowledge. And that self-knowledge will help you find the road to balance!