We hear a lot about balance and how important it is in our lives but realistically it is difficult to achieve. First, there is no solid definition. Like success, it is unique to each person and can only be defined by them. Only you can determine your priorities or purpose and be able to sense how you are feeling about the time and energy you spend in each area.
My personal definition of balance is being clear about how I want to divide my time based on my priorities and sticking to it about 80% of the time. Achieving balance requires transitional time as you move from self-care to parenting or from work to fun time. The whole goal of balance is to be present wherever you are. You must leave about 20% for life’s unexpected challenges.
Being present is rare. Truly enjoying the moment without thought or worry is difficult unless you make it a priority. We all have certain activities we can be lost in but then other areas are hard. Although I love my children and they are my #1 priority after God and my own emotional and physical health, the time I get to spend with them is limited. They too have busy schedules. I usually race to leave work to be with them. But it can take my brain a while to turn off from the business and turn on to the parenting. It is harder for me to be present with them than when I am in a business meeting. I have to be super intentional about it and I feel better after I push through my discomfort. I know how important it is that they feel valued so I strive to give them my undivided attention. I shut off my phone and try to engage the best I can with a 12 and a 14 year-old. There are days I feel super connected and days I can tell they want their space.
So how can you achieve more balance in your life? You must start with how you are feeling now. Are you overwhelmed? Not challenged or fulfilled enough? Are you beating yourself up or feeling not enough?
I have found that women who don’t write down their vision, goals and priorities are more worn out and lack purpose in their life. It is so easy to become distracted, start fighting other people’s battles, and feel like you have no time for yourself. This comes from either taking on too much or not feeling successful about your life. So start by writing down the top priorities in your life in order of importance to you. Mine are:
Once you have done this, assign how much time you can spend in each area. Often areas will overlap. For example, taking a hike with my kids feeds adventure and quality time with them.
In my life God comes before all else. My spiritual health determines how I can manage all my other priorities. Whether you believe in God, Buddha, the Universe, etc. spending time before your day gets started on the spiritual will help you stay centered. In the early AM before my kids wake up I read a daily devotional, the bible and then review my purpose, I AM statements, goals and values. After that I journal and write. Spending these 60-90 minutes alone ensures I have taken care of my emotional health. I never check email or focus on anything else during this time. This ritual sets me up to be balanced for my day. It also lets me leave any challenges I am having behind because I am committed to journaling them instead of over-thinking them.
When the priorities and time allotments are done, the next step is to write them down as goals. My goals include these along with other thing I want to accomplish. For example knowing my physical health is a priority I have a goal to do cardio 4 times a week. Any more than that my schedule gets too crazy. I also have parenting goals so I feel more accomplished. I have identified things that are important like eating healthy and make goals like eat dinner together at home 3-4 nights a week. I don’t fall victim to the drive-thru convenience trap because I have planned around it. Since I review it in the AM chances are I already decided what we are having. I also have certain days like Sunday where I plan my week with exercise and meals.
If you write down your priorities and goals and then keep the discipline to stick to them you will feel more balanced. The hardest challenge you will have is saying “no” more and not allowing distractions to pull you away. When you create the life you want to live versus letting life run you, you have so much more power in controlling your joy. If you struggle with taking too much on or don’t know what your priorities are you will need to dedicate more time to those. Add them to your growth plan found in the resources section. You can also find your priorities and goal planner there.