If the teeter-totter of your work-life balance always seem to have you at one extreme or the other and the prospect of finding the sweet spot seems out of reach, then this series is for you. In Part I we kick-started the path to negotiating balance and harmony with some simple strategies to allow you to take control of your life so you can focus on the things that matter most to you. In addition to debunking the myth that there’s no such thing as balance and considering who you need to negotiate with, we explored what you tolerate, saying ‘No’, and finding purpose. Today we continue with more hot tips on how you can maintain better balance in your life.
IV Setting Goals
In Part I, I mentioned our Purpose Planner as a valuable tool to help you achieve purpose (and with it balance). One of the things we cover in our Purpose Planner to ensure a balanced life is categories for goal setting. For most of us, there’s one area in our life where we focus on goal setting (i.e. career or romance or health). We tend to approach the task with a narrow focus. I invite you to start broadening that lens. Get intentional about setting goals in every category of your life.
If you're looking for balance you need to ensure you are growing, and fully living into every area, including:
- health & fitness,
- wealth & finance,
- mission & vision,
- emotional & mental wellbeing,
- growth & learning,
- intimate or romantic relationships,
- family & friends,
- experiences & quality of life,
- career (if that's not already covered under mission & vision).
Set achievable goals in each of these areas and check in regularly to ensure you’re on target. In this way, you’ll notice if you’re lacking in one or more areas before it’s too late.
V Be Present
As you seek to maintain a state of balance, I invite you to be fully present in the now. Be mindful. We live in a very ‘to-do’ world, where we're often rushing here and there, grabbing fast food on the way. We don't take the time to be present, to fully experience each moment and enjoy the journey. This week I challenge you to be more present. Experience and enjoy each meal, focusing on the flavours in each bite. When you have conversations, be present, be there, be fully engaged as you listen. As you drive, truly take in your surroundings along the way. Invoke and tune in to all five senses.
Allowing yourself to be engaged in each moment will create a sense of balance in and of itself. When you live each moment in that way, a state of balance becomes a way of being.
VI Know Your Boundaries
In Part I, we talked about the importance of being able to say ‘no’. An important part of that is knowing your boundaries. What are your non-negotiables in life? Those things that you are not going to give up on, not going to compromise on. We often forget to be intentional about that. If you don't know them you will get what you tolerate and it can be a slippery slope, easy to lose the balance necessary to live into our fullest lives.
Often, we overextend ourselves out of fear of being seen as not able to handle it all, judged deficient. We want to be seen as superwomen. That motivates us to say ‘yes’ to people and things that do not serve us and that we don't even enjoy doing.
Also, consider that you don’t have to be the person who responds positively to every request. You can move the goal back onto the lap of the person who raised it. You can refer them to someone else who could benefit from the referral and opportunity in a classic win-win.
Think of each request you get as a negotiation. Recognize that you can say ‘no’. We often complain that we don’t have enough time. It’s a choice. Gaining time back means negotiating with ourselves and others. Always consider if saying ‘yes’ moves you forward toward your own goals and vision.
I invite you to schedule time in your calendar this week to contemplate your boundaries. You also need to know your priorities to set appropriate boundaries. So, let’s talk about that next.
VII Know Your Priorities
Do you have a clear sense of your priorities? Do you ensure that you live into your priorities each day? If you’re like most people, you likely spend most of your time doing things that you would not list as priorities in your life.
I love the vase experiment as a beautiful metaphor for life. If you haven't seen it, here’s how it works. Take a large vase and place big rocks in it until you hit the rim. You'll think the vase is full. But if you add smaller rocks, they find their way around the big rocks and fill to the top. You’ll think the vase is full. But if you dump in little pebbles, they work their way around the rocks until you’re convinced the vase is full. If you pour in a bucket of sand, sure enough it can fill the cracks and crevices until it appears impossible to add anything more. Yet if you pour in a jug of water, the sand absorbs the water and takes it in.
If you think of those rocks as the priorities in your life, those big rocks are things you most value, your top priorities. If you don't put those big rocks in first, every day, you won’t have room for them. Because when you do the vase exercise in reverse (i.e. start with the water, then put in sand, then pebbles, then smaller rocks) you will not have room for the big rocks.
I invite you to think about applying this principle in your life. Know what your priorities are, your big rocks, and make sure you make and take time to get your big rocks into your vase, this one life you've been given, every day. Otherwise, you’ll fill your days with sand and water. To kickstart that process, take a few moments now to list those things in your life that you consider your priorities. Contemplate whether you are giving them the attention they deserve each day. If not, what can you do to correct that? Stay tuned next week for some practical exercises for how you can manage your time to help live into your priorities.
I hope you’re finding these simple strategies to be helpful on your journey to negotiate balance in your life. If you missed Part I, be sure to check it out so you don’t miss out on any hot tips. And I invite you to join us for next week’s instalment in this series as we continue with life-altering tips and tools to negotiate your well-deserved balance.