The sounds of the coffee shop rose and fell as customers milled around or attempted to work in front of a laptop. Wearily she wondered aloud to no one in particular, “Is work-life balance a myth or are there people who live it in one form or another?” After realizing she was double-booked with appointments and once again missing her son’s basketball game, Haley isn’t the only person to voice this question. If only she had listened to the Balanced Living for Busy Professionals podcast, specifically the episode titled Integrating Life Balance, Your Way, Haley would have her answer. Dispelling the work-life balance myth includes intentions, boundaries, and priorities. All things possible with a little added know-how.
Using Intentions to Find Balance
When you’re working on your business, serving your customers, being a spouse and/or parent, plus being active in your community, it is exhausting. Add in continuous growth in your work along with personal and professional development and it quickly becomes clear that a purposeful, intentional plan for handling everything is a must. While it starts with doing something you are passionate about so nothing feels like work, everything centers around you first. Remember this: change yourself first, the rest will fall into place. When you are placing your own priorities around work-life balance first, you are making certain you are reaching your important things on a daily basis. You are being intentional about what is getting your attention – your first and best attention.
We’re familiar with the safety teachings on an airplane about placing the oxygen mask on yourself first so you are getting what you need to survive before assisting someone else. Finding balance in your own work-life world is being intentional about what gets your attention and time in each minute, each day, and in each situation.
Determine how you define balance and be intentional with what gets added to your scheduler. Those who operate in a state of balance often add everything to their calendar and plan their day. Mark time for mediating to nurture your spirit. Add in professional and personal activities and events. Include time for hobbies and personal interests. Don’t forget the importance of exercise to strengthen your body and mind. This can range from time in a gym or taking a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood – alone or with the whole family – to get some fresh air. Consider journaling to express gratitude, work through items niggling for your attention, or plot your next business venture. Journaling engages a different part of your brain and will give you a different side of harmony and level to the balance you desire.
Using Boundaries to Find Balance
There are ebbs and flows in finding and maintaining balance. Acknowledging this will make the shifts around creating and maintaining boundaries easier when you need to release a boundary that no longer serves you or must create a new boundary. It’s all about figuring out what you can do today – in this moment – that gets you to where you want to be, to be happier, to be healthier, and to have more harmony.
Boundaries are not restrictive rules or barriers that you place around yourself. Boundaries are set up to protect what you say is important to you. The boundary can be as flexible as you allow because you determine what you will allow to crossover and if this moment brings you happiness or moves you closer to something you want. These insulate you from distractions, drama, and habits that aren’t serving you. It’s okay to decline an invitation to something you don’t want to attend with people who aren’t adding to your balance.
Choose one little new habit to put in place to include or cut out something that no longer serves you. Be patient with yourself as you learn this new habit. It takes time. The long-term payoff is worth the shift you’re making.
Using Priorities to Find Balance
Finding balance is being intentional with the boundaries you’re creating and prioritizing how your day shapes up. Take for instance a priority set around living a healthy lifestyle which includes dedication to exercise. If you’ve had a health scare that requires adding more exercise into your day you may restructure dedicated time to walking on treadmill and listening to positive podcasts. Prioritizing what needs to take precedence will ensure it’s never pushed aside.
Haley was missing her son’s basketball game and feeling overwhelm as she grudgingly pushed through work at the coffee shop. If she put the practice of priorities into her work-life balance plans she could have been present at the game. She could have seen on her scheduler that this time was blocked off. She would have put a boundary around this family time – protecting it so nothing could take her away. She would have seen the impressive 3-point shot her son made during the first half.
I encourage you to not be like Haley. Get clear about what you want – giving it the place in your day that it deserves. Additionally, know that your definition of work-life balance will be unique to you. Each person defines balance differently and that’s okay.
Getting a Clearer Picture
Use these four steps to get a clearer picture as you soul search within yourself to figure out how you wish to define and structure of your own work-life balance.
Step 1: Decide what’s important to you in your life.
Step 2: Identify the changes that will ensure what is most important to you will be present in your life daily.
Step 3: Make the time to integrate these changes now. Restructure the priorities currently driving your life.
Step 4: Pursue these changes with determination and total commitment as if your life depends on it.
The key aspect of what it means to living life and work in balance is knowing that it’s a choice. Change yourself first and the rest will fall into place.
If you need help getting started reach out to me by scheduling a 1:1 consulting session. Work-life balance is possible with some added know-how I’m happy to share with you.