Think about this, ladies: if you are 30 now, you have about 394000 hours left to live. If you are 50, you have about 219000 hours left. Half of that is going to be taken up with eating, sleeping and chores. So what are you going to do with the time that’s left? Are you going to work frantically, every spare minute you can, to accumulate that big bank balance you’ve always dreamed of? (And you can’t even take it with you!) Are you going to insist in spending it in an unhappy relationship? Are you going to lie on your death bed and wish you’d spent more time at the office? You have a choice of what to do with those remaining, precious hours. How are you going to choose to spend your time? By Kirsten Long - Life Coach
Here is an easy exercise to determine how balanced your life is: Consider the 9 different areas in your life:
• Work and career
• Money and finances
• Health and fitness
• Friends and family
• Your physical environment like your home and office
• Personal development
• Fun and leisure
• Partner/ spouse
For each area, rate how satisfied you are with it (0= totally unsatisfied; 10 = totally satisfied). Work out the average. If your life is pretty balanced, all areas should be around the average. Any areas that have a big discrepancy from the average indicate an imbalance.
There can be imbalances in any areas of your life. Mostly people think of imbalance around the work-life arena and this is often supported by research. A recent survey showed that 70% of managers want more time with their families; 50% of them are perpetually exhausted; and 30% of managers feel that their lives are out of control.
Success at work often means failure in other areas of people’s lives which obviously has a knock-on effect at work again. So it’s like a vicious circle. When your life is unbalanced like this, the effects are numerous: stress; lack of motivation; managing by crisis; failure to see the big picture and many more. Some people are so stressed that they even see things that could help them (coaching, therapy etc) as an additional burden!
Do keep this in mind: Balance is fluid and dynamic. It is not static. You can move towards a state of balance but you can’t tick it off your list and say “It’s done”! You have to continually strive to keep your life in balance.
The first step towards creating balance in your life is awareness. If you are not aware of an imbalance, how can you fix it? Why don’t you try this reality check: Take your weekly To Do list, estimate the time for each entry and add the hours it will take to complete. You are in trouble if it’s over 80 hours worth of work. There are only 168 hours in a week. Stress comes from trying to do too much. What is it that stops you from saying no to some thing? The majority of executives rate their ability to say no to extra work as low – even if they want to spend more time with their families. So take a good look at your life, perhaps use the two exercises in this article and decide – are you leading a balanced life or not. Once you are aware that your life is unbalanced, you can take some steps to address the problem.
The second step towards creating balance in your life is realising that you do have choices and options. The reality is that life is a series of tradeoffs and choices. Balancing your life involves choices that usually exclude something or imply some loss. The majority of people have a problem with this – we want to have it all! There is often a discrepancy between what we say is important and how we allocate our time. If your family is really important, ask yourself how much time you allocate for it. Decide what is important for you. Now decide what habits you need to create and what attitude you need to cultivate to support what is important to you. What regular action are you going to take on a daily basis to form your balanced and fulfilled life? Ladies, you have to take the time to sit down and decide because it is not going to happen on its own. When you get bogged down with life it is difficult to focus or remember your broader vision for your life (and if you don’t have one you’ll never get out of the bog!) Remind yourself of your primary focus and realise that is it important to balance your big agenda with the small one.
The third step towards creating balance in your life is learning to live in the present. You have to live in awareness to do this. A large part of my coaching work is around raising my client’s awareness and getting them to live consciously (as opposed to unconsciously). We spend a lot of our time living unconsciously. Ever driven form A to B and realised that you can’t remember any details about the journey? That’s what I’m talking about when I say we live unconsciously. When you are at work, focus on your work. Focus on one task at a time, until it is finished. It helps to switch off your email program so you are not interrupted by mails arriving. When you are at home, BE at home and with your family. It is also important to cultivate the right attitude when focusing on the moment – appreciate what is right about the situation and build on this. Concentrating on what is wrong lowers your energy and destroys your motivation. So look at what is right, what is working and build on that.
There is a lovely, easy to read book called The Present by Spencer Johnson which will help if you do decide that you want to live your life more in the present. Of course there’s the past and the future and what should we do with those? Do you hang onto the past and think about some things you’ve done, wishing you hadn’t? How much energy do you waste saying if only I had …. ? How much time do you spend beating yourself up about the past? There’s only one thing to do with the past – and that’s to learn your lesson and let it go. You can then apply what you have learnt to the present and focus on that.
And what of the future? How many of you worry? Do you ever worry about things that haven’t even happened? What if my child takes drugs; what if my husband has an affair; what if we have an accident on our way to the beach? Do you know how much energy is spent worrying about things we should have done already. Procrastination is a useless exercise where essentially you are worrying about the future. Let it go – the most effective thing you can do about the future is to plan for it. Get a coach! Buy a book! Write down your plans. When you have planned for the future you can also let it go and live in the present.
So what do you get once you have done all this work to create a balanced life? You will have increased energy, increased motivation and a sense of satisfaction and a feeling of control. A balanced life is a fulfilled life. Three things can help you to get there: increased awareness; executing your right to choose and living in the present. Decide today!
Tao Te Ching said “When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.”
We are just like cars: a car runs more smoothly and efficiently when the wheels are balanced and aligned. And we perform better when our actions, thoughts, feelings, goals and values are in balance.