Do you feel pulled in a million directions? I think we all feel that way. We’re torn between wanting more and being satisfied with what we have . . . between choosing a fast-track career and having a “normal” family and social life . . . between taking another piece of chocolate and thinking about how we’ll look in a bathing suit. Finding balance in life is a very noble pursuit, but it can be elusive and hard to achieve. How do you live a well-balanced life?
Because we’re all unique, it’s important to define what balance means to you and how you plan to achieve it. That process begins by establishing goals and determining priorities. Of course, there may be people who prefer to skip this step and cut to the chase, but if that path is taken, priorities will be chosen for them.
There are eight areas of our life that require careful balance. They are depicted in the following visual.
Life Is a Balancing Act
These are common dilemmas that we face each day. What’s the right balance for you?
Keeping Life in Balance
Here are some guidelines for keeping your life in balance:
Remain focused and disciplined. Do you feel overwhelmed at times? That may be because you value quantity over quality. Priorities serve as guideposts to keep you on track. Your goal shouldn’t be checking items off a to-do list, but rather doing things that matter.
Invest your time wisely. Resources are finite. When you overcommit your time or spread your resources too thin, you fail to dedicate the attention that your priorities deserve.
Learn to set boundaries. The goal shouldn’t always be adding, but also subtracting from daily tasks. While any single request may seem reasonable, added together they’ll divert your attention from your priorities. So learn to say “No.” As Jessye Norman, award-winning opera singer and performer, said, “Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.”
Minimize toxicity. While toxic food is bad for your health and well-being, so are negative and unethical people. They’ll sap your energy and drain your soul.
Invest in relationships. Studies show that relationships are a key source of happiness. Being a good spouse, parent, or friend doesn’t happen by chance. It requires an investment.
Try something new. Don’t be so busy that you don’t have time for something new. Expand your horizons. You won’t know what the world offers unless you give it a try.
Treat yourself. Stop being so rigid by seeing the world as black or white. The fact is, most of life remains somewhere in between. So, if you’re living at one end of the extreme, there’s nothing wrong with deviating from your habit every once in a while.
Make time for nothing. Being busy doesn’t always mean being productive. Set aside time to relax and think. It’ll give you time to smell the roses and learn from each experience. It’s important to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
Be open to change. Love what you do and the choices that you make, but not so much that you’re unwilling to change. There’s a fine line between passion and obsession.
Live life with a purpose. Happiness isn’t the result of accumulating things. It’s about living life with a purpose.
Remember, it’s not that you don’t have enough time to devote to things that matter to you –– but rather, the time needed was spent doing something else?
Strike the Right Balance
Many of us take each day as it comes and then seem surprised to find where life has taken us. We’ve risen to the top, but regret what we’ve lost during the journey; we’ve accumulated fancy possessions, but learned that money can’t buy the best riches in life. It’s as if we’ve followed a prepared script rather than consciously choosing the right path for us.
In the end, happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance. It’s about thinking and doing; desiring more and being satisfied with what you have; doing what you want and what is expected of you. While this may sound simple, it’s not easy. And it’s not going to happen by itself. So determine what works best for you and be conscious of the choices that you make every day. As the saying goes, “The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.” Your happiness lies in the balance.