How to Create a Balanced Life: Secrets to having a Beautiful Life
If you work, you are in a relationship or you have kids, chances are you are struggling to feel balance in your life.
Australia ranks 30th out of 38 OECD countries for the number of people working very long hours and 33rd for the amount of time devoted to leisure and personal care. That’s a pretty poor scorecard.
The ability to successfully have a balanced life, to balance work, family commitments and personal time is critical not only for your wellbeing but the wellbeing of everyone one in your household. Working excessively long hour’s means that you have less time for the things that bring joy and happiness to both you and the people you love. You have less time to spend with family and friends, you miss important events and it can leave you feeling demoralised and burnt out.
I have been running my own business now for over 3 years and I can tell you, most of that has been in an unbalanced way. The consequences for me became most apparent one day when my teenage son was angry with me (nothing really unusual at the time) but this time, instead of getting angry and frustrated with the way we were communicating, I asked him what I could do to be a better mum.
That stopped the anger and helped me see the impact I was having on him by working such long hours because he said to me that I could be a better Mum if I would just spend some time with him. He wanted me to come outside in the afternoon and play basketball or kick the footy. He wanted my time and attention and I had not been giving it to him.
The crazy thing was, I was working long hours on building my business for him; or so I thought. If someone said to me, why do you work so hard, I would have side something like “I’m doing this for my kids”. But that is actually not true. I started my business for me, because I felt I had something to offer the world and I felt a drive to get out there and do it. The other crazy thing is that one of the main reasons I started Juzcit was because I felt and could see how hard it was for people to balance their health when they are busy and didn’t have time to get good healthy foods and drinks so I wanted to make it easier.
So I had a look at my life and I read some books and I experimented with some things and now, I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of getting some balance in my life. I in no way feel like an expert but I felt that it would be good to share some of the things that I have learned along the way.
What balance means
The first thing that I needed to understand was what balance actually meant to me and it is the first thing I would recommend doing if you are just starting your journey. For me, I looked at the things most important to me and assessed if I was getting ‘enough’ time for each area, for example, I wanted to exercise for at least 30 mins every day, eat well, get at least 7 ½ hrs sleep, meditate for 20 mins, I wanted to spend quality time in the afternoon with my son once he arrived home from school. I wanted to have quality time with my partner at least from dinner to sleep time and I wanted to spend time each week with a friend doing something social and I wanted to learning something new/read a book each week.
Out of these areas, I still don’t get each and every one ticked off every day but I do get them most days and that is what is important to me.
When I first started intentionally trying to find balance, I was a bit lost. I felt like a pendulum swinging between satisfaction and guilt so I figured that I had to deal with my internal belief systems as a starting point. Some of the belief systems that had me stuck were:
- If I’m not working hard and working long hours I will fail
- If I don’t work hard and work long hours I am lazy
- Only people who work hard succeed
- I’m only going to work this hard for a short time so it’s ok if everything else gets put on the back-burner, I’ll make up for it later
- I’m the only one who can do it; no one else does the work as well as I can
- Everything will go to shit if I don’t do it
To negate these belief systems, I challenged each and every one of these to see what the truth was, was there was any evidence to support the belief and what I was getting from holding onto the belief.
Without going to in-depth into this area, this process was crucial for starting the process of change and was something I could not do alone. I got coaching, I read books, I listened to podcasts and I talked to my partner to help break these down and to help me form new beliefs.
Do the 3 P’s
Plan – Set Goals!! This is so super important. Every morning I write in a journal the 3 things I want to achieve that day and in that planning I state my intention for the day. I will get lots more than 3 things done but as long as I get the 3 most important things done, I know I have done a great day’s work.
Prepare – For this step, I have set aside time in my calendar for the things that make the biggest difference. For example, my workweek is scheduled to include blocks of time assigned to the most important long-term outcomes and goals, my calendar includes time blocked out for exercise, meditating, learning and reflecting. I have alarms set in my phone to remind me to take breaks with special labels to remind me to drink water, move and eat to feed my future self. This is also the bit where you outsource all the things that are not important to you and won’t support you in achieving your goals. For example, if you find that you are spending your weekends cleaning, shopping, mowing etc., assess what you can get someone else to do. Get a cleaner, pay a neighbors kid to mow and wash your car, subscribe to a meal delivery plan and order your groceries online for pickup or home delivery. This will save you hours!!
Perform – This is about maintaining focus. It’s all good doing all the pre work but if you then ignore your calendar and alarms, get distracted by other people’s issues at work rather than dealing with your own, cleanup anyway even though you have a cleaner, then preparing will be a waste of time. I find that keeping reminders around me like sticky notes with words that mean something to me, writing my vision on the whiteboard and having a vision board with my short and long term goals on it in sight, all help me keep my focus. The food I eat, the drinks I drink and the sleep I get all impact on this immensely!
It’s really ok if you don’t get this 100% right away and all of the time. Changing habits that have formed over years can be difficult to break sometimes. Doing some things every day and practicing to get better and better each day will have a long-term effect.
Being accountable to someone can increase your chances of success by 95% if you have set a specific accountability appointment with someone. For this, I use my coach. We meet each week and we talk and I know as I am coming up to that appointment that if I haven’t done something that I said I would, my behaviour changes quick smart!
Start with these steps and see the difference it makes, not only to you but also to the people who love you.