7 Steps to Create Balance in Your Life

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It is very easy to feel overwhelmed in life, not having a moment to yourself, not doing the things you love and spending too much time working, doing long hours in the office and then more at home. Creating balance within your life is about making conscious choices and behaving differently. Generally, when it comes to our lives being out of balance, it is because we spend too much time doing work related activities at the expense of our home life, our relationships or our health. If you feel that you don't have the right work/home life balance, then here are 7 steps to create balance in your life:

  1. Explore where you are in your life right now. Use the Wheel of Life to help you assess what's working well for you, which areas are giving you the greatest satisfaction or happiness. In doing this exercise, you'll be able to see at a glance which areas aren't positively contributing to the life you want, and which areas are the primary cause of the imbalance. As you complete the wheel, think about how much time you are spending at work or doing work or how many hours you are putting in each week. Are you getting the opportunities to relax, doing the things you love with the people important to you? Are you living a healthy lifestyle?
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  2. Identify what your priorities are. You can't do everything, there's not enough time in the day. Tackling the lowest scoring areas within The Wheel of Life first to create balance, and thus an easier life, determine what your top three priorities are within those areas. What do you need to focus on and what do you need to do?
  3. Once you have identified what you need to do, create SMART goals for those priorities and a step by step plan to achieve them. Then get working on them. Check out the blog post on SMART Goals if you want to know more.
  4. It might seem ridiculous but if you are struggling because of the perceived lack of time, it is useful to create a schedule for everything in your life. You might be used to time management in the workplace and structuring your work around a diary is essential, so why wouldn't you use a similar structure for your home life. When you are pretty full on and busy all the time, it is easy to be all consumed by work. No thought is given to you doing the things you enjoy, to having time to yourself. Each day becomes like the previous one, evenings and weekends fly by without you feeling like you have done anything, let alone achieved something.

    Try scheduling the priorities you have identified, creating a commitment to time to get those things done. Schedule activities such as time for you, relaxing, recharging your batteries, engaging in self-care etc. A schedule helps you commit to the time, it helps you make the conscious choice and be fully present in the activity you have scheduled. If you don't schedule things in, then more often than not, you won't do it; the habit of working, reaching for the wine bottle, sitting watching tv. zoning out or making a token effort will be the overriding behaviour. Why don't you try scheduling in a romantic meal with your partner each week, quality play time with the children, meeting up with your friends, a super relaxing bath, watching a movie you have been wanting to watch for some time? These small commitments can make a massive difference when creating greater balance in your life and helps you reconnect with the things that are important to you and your priorities.

  5. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone. You don't want to be playing it safe all the time. If you want to have a more rounded, balanced life, you've got to make the right decisions to do so and not fear the consequences. We create the imbalance between our work and home life but at what cost? The job will still be there if you leave it once your shift has finished. Though for some people spending all their time working is a distraction strategy because maybe they don't like their own company, don't have any hobbies or interests, don't want to think about making changes because they don't know where to start. They are comfortable doing this, but are unhappy and in the end, it will be detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being.
  6. Create flexibility in your thinking and behaviour. No matter how much you plan or create balance in your life, something unexpected will happen. How you respond to this will determine what the outcome will be. But if you have learnt strategies for creating balance, you'll be in a better frame of mind and state to be able to deal with unexpected events. You won't be too tired or stressed out and will be able to respond effectively. You'll be able to come up with alternative solutions to problems, to bounce back quicker and not become overwhelmed by issues that are sometimes beyond your control.
  7. Have the right mindset. I have previously written about the power of positivity and about being responsible for your life, and both are important when it comes to creating the right balance between home life and work. What are you working for if you don't have time to spend the money you are earning? If you don't have any time to recover, to recharge, then how effective are you going to be when you are at work? Not working every hour you can, is not a negative reflection on you. Ask yourself, why you are not creating balance in your life? If your life has become all work, work, work, why is this and what are you going to do about it? You are in control of creating your future life. If you don't have balance, it is because you are choosing this, choose to do something different.

"Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life"

- Dolly Parton

I Know What it Feels Like When You're Stuck in a Rut

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Does this sound familiar...When you wake up on a morning you don't look forward to the day ahead. At work, every day is a routine and drags by. You look around and know you deserve more, and want more, but don't have the time or energy to do something about it. You've been doing the same job for several years and you no longer love what you do. You have become the master list maker, creating to do lists but never getting anything done, or if you do, more things are added so your list is never-ending. You lose track of time because every day feels the same and you feel like you're the hamster trapped in a wheel, forever running but never getting anywhere. The sound track of your life rather than being something upbeat and exciting, has now become the sound of your voice constantly complaining about how unfair life is, that you're bored and you don't have a purpose. And now, you realise you're going through the motions and you're on autopilot in your life.

If this connects with what you are thinking and feeling right at this moment, then it's highly likely you're stuck in a rut and languishing in a comfort zone you have created in your life. When you are in our comfort zone, you don't have to think about the choices you make and what you are doing. What you do is easy because you know how to do it, what's expected and generally what the outcome will be. As you go through life in our little comfort zone, you're not happy, challenged or stretched and you are certainly not fulfilled; you’re just OK but not really in a good way. Life is ticking along, you've got a job, you're getting paid, you've a roof over your head, a great family and you can go away on holiday each year. And yet, you feel there is more to life than just going through the motions. You feel you have more to offer and you want to challenge yourself more and grow.

At one time or another, we all experience being stuck in a rut. So, here's what happens when we experience this. Here we are sat in our comfort zone, we're not asking for the earth, we just want to be happier, content, satisfied; we want to have more meaning and purpose to our days and life. We make the decision to do something about it. We come up with ideas, start to make changes, which to begin with seems OK but then as we get to a certain point the thought of stepping outside of the comfort zone becomes increasingly scary. Our fears, our limiting beliefs go into overdrive. We play the "What If" game; what if I move jobs and I can't do it, what if we move to renovate a house we have always dreamed of and it turns into a nightmare, what if I retrain and then can't find a job, what if I write a book and nobody likes it, and so on and so on. All these fears and beliefs become a barrier to us stretching ourselves and going beyond what we are comfortable with, so we just stay as we are. We can go through this process numerous times, something will motivate us to try again or it starts to create greater discomfort. Then when we're about to break through, we talk ourselves out of it again.

This is until one time, something forces us to break through that barrier. Either an external event, such as being made redundant or because staying as we are in our comfort zone has become too uncomfortable, it is causing us to hate the thing we used to love, it is causing us to feel stressed or depressed at the thought of continuing as we are. Suddenly, we find the motivation to move away from something we don't want becomes so great, it makes us act and pushes us out of our comfort zone. Once through this is where the magic happens. The negative emotions are gone; yes, it can be a little scary at times but in a good way, now it's exciting, we feel energised in a way we didn't before. We are doing something different, we're being stretched, growing and we are no longer going through the motions. Of course, after a while, we'll create another comfort zone, this time it will be bigger, there'll be more opportunities in there, more connections we'll have built up our skill set, our confidence will be higher, after all we've done it before so we can do it again. Maybe next time it won't take so many attempts to make the change.

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If you think now is the time you're ready to get out of that rut, here's what to do:

  1. Understand the comfort zone you're currently in and be honest with yourself as to why you stay there.
  2. Get out of your head. Simplify and gain clarity. Figure out what you want, what life you want to create for yourself, what's the magic beyond your comfort zone.
  3. Set your SMART goals; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
  4. Focus on the future, don't be trapped in the past and your previous negative experiences.
  5. Act. If you do nothing, then how can you expect anything to be different?

Let me know what magic you create.