Guest post by Michelle Prince
It is often said that balance is the key to happiness and the good life. When related to self-esteem, most of us are aware that we fill our lives with activities and obligations for others without thinking about ourselves and what we may need. There is a way to take care of yourself while also helping others.
A lot of people, mostly good friends, have asked me through the years, “How do you do it? How do you manage a full time, time-consuming job that includes travel, while raising two kids? How do you fit in everything else as well—exercise, kids’ sporting events, church activities, family get-togethers, birthday parties,not to mention your relationship with your husband?”
Usually I joke, “NOT VERY WELL!”
The truth is, I became good at juggling. I figured out how to have balance in my crazy life and not drop the “balls in the air.”
To be honest, I didn’t even realize I had a lot on my plate until friends, who didn’t work or didn’t have kids, pointed it out to me. It was all I knew, so that was normal for me.
When I see a mom with triplets, I find myself asking how on earth she survives, taking care of three kids the same age! I’m exasperated just thinking about it. The typical response from the mom is usually, “I don’t know any better, so I just adjust.” In other words, they don’t know what it’s like to have one child versus having three to raise at the same time. They manage just fine with three, because it’s the only way they know.
That’s how I see myself sometimes. I’ve never really known it any other way so it’s seems normal to me to work at balancing my life. I’ve always liked to be busy. In fact, I think I’m at my best when I have many things to juggle. I much prefer juggling to being lazy.
However, because of my ability to multitask and keep my balance while managing a heavy schedule, I can also spread myself too thin at times. Over the years, I’ve recognized this and have worked hard to maintain balance.
Doing too much of anything—eating, working, volunteering, exercising, church activities, even relaxing, becomes unhealthy. Each activity recharges or fuels the others. We can compare it to recharging our bodies with meals that are balanced, and that contain all the basic nutrients for giving us the energy we need, while at the same time preventing the build-up of stress.
Marriage between two people whose lifestyles are out of balance often ends up in divorce. Often one of the partners spends too much time at the office and neglects his spouse and family. Or, one of the partners does not carry his share of the financial responsibility. Possibly one or both of the persons is dealing with personal issues such as substance abuse, or other co-dependent challenges, and refuses to get help.
Life is a series of choices.
Can you think of one thing you could do today that would improve your life? What about the opposite? Can you think of one thing you could do today that would make your life worse? It’s all about choices!
In the chart on the next page, I have listed six core areas that make up important parts of your life. These categories include subcategories to help you to evaluate where you are in each area in terms of your level of satisfaction. Rate where you are with respect to the chart, on a scale from one to five. The highest number, five, is an area that is working great, with little room for improvement.
At the other end of the scale is number one for the area where you have a lot of work to do to get that part working right. Circle the number that most accurately describes your current state. The areas we’re going to focus on are:
Personal/Personal Growth 1 2 3 4 5
Career 1 2 3 4 5
Ability to advance
Relationships 1 2 3 4 5
Ability to Love
Sense of togetherness
Financial 1 2 3 4 5
Physical 1 2 3 4 5
Spiritual 1 2 3 4 5
Now, I want you to take those numbers and plot them on the lines below. Next, connect the dots from the beginning of the road to the end. This is The Road That Leads to Balance. It will help you see which areas of your life have a few “pot holes” that need to be repaired.
Some pot holes will be deeper than others, but this will pinpoint which areas of your life need extra focus and determination to make you more balanced. Eventually, we want to fill up all those pot holes and start driving on a smoother road through life.
Now that you have a good idea about the areas of your life where you need to do some work in order to bring them into a state of balance, I’d like you to write down at least one thing you could do today in each area that would help you start to remove some of the bumps in your road.
Maybe you could take an art class, make a phone call to your grandma, go to the gym, or eat at home rather than go out to dinner. Maybe you could make 10 extra cold calls, or do something else at work that would lead to an improvement. Spend the afternoon with your kids, or volunteer in the community. The following is an example of my daily goals:
Read 30 minutes
Listen to motivational/inspirational CD
Make 10 extra marketing calls today
Plan date night with Chris
Visit Grandma in nursing home
Eat dinner at home six nights this week
Go to gym
Thirty minutes of strength training
Walk/run for thirty minutes or more
Read Bible and devotional
Pray with boys at bedtime
Now it’s your turn. Write down one or two actions, in each category, that you can do today to bring you closer to achieving your goals.
Your Daily Goals
I suggest you do this exercise each day for the next thirty days, along with your affirmations. This will help you focus your day on your priorities rather than simply on your to-do list. I try to make a habit of doing this balancing exercise each morning before I do anything else.
I list a goal for the day in each area, so that I can stay balanced. I try to get these goals done before anything I have to do at work or at home. It takes discipline, but it will bring joy to your life.
Balance produces harmony, and harmony is peace. Peace is ultimately what brings us joy in life. It’s all connected, but it starts with making the decision to balance out our lives first.
Please don’t misunderstand the point of this exercise. It isn’t to add more work to your day, but to help you to prioritize your activities. Decide what you really want to make happen and focus only on those things.
How often do we do things that we don’t want to, but feel we have to? How often do you accept party invitations or work projects that you’re too busy to fulfill? You do them because you feel you “should” or because you don’t want to disappoint someone.
How many times has someone asked you to help her with moving, or watching her kids, or running an errand for her, when you really didn’t have the time to add this to your own to-do list? (You just couldn’t say no!)
If you’re like me, you’ve probably said “yes” too many times.
If you are too busy “being busy,” you might be missing out on just the thing that could make your life happy. This is why it’s good to write down one important action item per day in each area. If you run out of time after you’ve done all of the important things, then you know where and when to say “no.”
Everyone has their own definition of balance; what’s right for others may not be right for you. Evaluate each area of your life to determine what you’d like to change or improve, and where you’d like to direct more attention or focus.
Begin today by taking inventory of where you spend your time and energy. Then ask yourself how this list lines up with your core beliefs and long-term goals. You’ll know immediately where to make those changes and begin on the path to life balance.
Michelle Prince – Author of “Winning in Life Now…How to Break Through to a Happier You!”, and top life coach, is passionate about helping others to become more of who God created them to be. Michelle uses her unique experiences and down to earth style to give a refreshing look at how to achieve true success in life. Get ready for a breakthrough to find more happiness, develop the confidence to become all you were born to be, and live a life filled with purpose! To receive Michelle’s free mp3 audio, “Discover Your Purpose,” visit www.winninginlifenow.