On any give day, a Google search of the term “life balance” or “work-life balance” produces between 11 and 24 million entries. Without a doubt, the number one reason humans cite for feeling out of control about the direction of their lives is, “I’m too busy!” As we’re about to discover here, the reason we’re too busy is not because we need a better productivity system, but because we need to do what we’ve been meaning to do all our adult lives: to identify our values and live from them.
Many of us spend week after week, month after month doing tasks, running errands, completing assignments, and moving at cheetah speed, but we can’t figure out why our ideas dissipate and our lives feel flat.Creating balance in all areas of our lives is not about managing time better, or checking off items on our ever-expanding to-do lists. It’s about finding ease, satisfaction and joy by distinguishing what we value most, and making consistent choices that reflect those values. In other words, when our doing lines up with our being, the vision we have of ourselves in the world unfolds and takes shape. All the moving parts of our lives feel congruent and integrated.
In essence, balance is not about equilibrium or assigning equal attention to all parts of our lives. It doesn’t mean longer to-do lists, fewer hours of sleep or getting anywhere near the word perfect. In fact, it means integrating all that’s important to you-and doing less-by getting much more selective about what you say yes to and when to say no. In a word, choice.
We all hold a picture in our hearts and minds of what our lives would look like if we were making conscious, integrated, values-based choices. We see our work as fulfilling and meaningful,our children in the colleges of their choice, our relationships nurtured and flourishing, our bodies healthy and alive. We see birthdays remembered, and countries visited. We also see the world changed, lives altered, wrongs righted, problems solved.
So what if it’s the basic, really core life organizing work that holds the key to accomplishment? Joy? What if reaching a level of peace in your day-to-day doing is as simple as reinventing our experience of time by accessing your values andchoosing what we say yes and no to?
So, take a look and ask yourself, “Is this me?”
You know you’re out of balance when:
- Your mail sits unopened for a week and you pay your bills late late.
- You think that the more plates you can spin, the more you can have it all.
- You keep declining invitations with friends.
- You can’t remember the last time you talked with your brother.
- You forget appointments and blow off commitments (like working out, eating healthy).
- You stop writing your task lists for the week and fly by the seat of your pants.
- You haven’t synced your PDA in weeks.
- You don’t care if you’re not on track with your plan.
- You can’t remember what’s in your plan.
- You don’t answer your phone or you’re always on the phone.
Isn’t “having it all” a hamster-wheel myth borne of fear?
Let’s stop the bloodletting and take a look. Making quality-of-life shifts is much more sustainable when the solutions come authentically and naturally from within. We achieve that by asking questions, making inquiries, and recommitting ourselves to actions that are connected to our values.
To get yourself back on track, it’s helpful to ask yourself some powerful questions now and then. These 10 questions will bring resonance to your choices and heart to your actions:
- What is it to be completely fulfilled in life?
- What values, qualities of being must be present for you to have a fulfilled life?
- How would honoring those values impact your experience of work-life balance?
- What are you committed to? (Not goals… goals are the doings that happen inside the field of commitments.)
- What actions give you the least joy?
- If you were committed to an organized, energetic, juicy, fulfilling experience in your work and life, how would that change your perspective about #5?
- What two or three actions could you take right now that would create the most impact on your wellbeing?
- What three things do you do in your daily life have absolutely no relevance to work or life fulfillment?
- What are you willing to give up?
- When will you commit to answering all these questions?
No, really: When will you commit to answering all these questions?