Four typical signs of work/life balance gone amok are: 1) Feeling you are merely trying to get through the day; 2) Barely making it to the end of the week and feeling completely exhausted by the time you get home; 3) Feeling that you are on the merry-go-round of life and just wanting to get off; or 4) Feeling like you are falling behind and never catching up.
If you are not “wicked happy” then there are a couple of rules you should know. First, people that have work/life balance don’t always have work/life balance. Think of it as a continuum from a 10 being “perfect balance” to a 1 meaning “total chaos.” Where do you fall on that continuum most of the time? Is it time to change course? Rule #2 is that techniques that work for some may not work for others. Analyzing your situation is the first step in the process toward wholeness.
Rule #3: balance comes from regularly answering a series of questions. If you are not crystal clear on your goals, you will only get mixed results at best. Rule #4 is that achieving work/life balance is incremental. There are really no silver bullet solutions. There are only minor tips and techniques that have a cumulative effect if implemented.
I recommend that you examine the four stages of the work/life balance process. First, Self-Assessment - your objective is to answer the question, “Who am I?” You will want to reflect on your skills, values, interests and priorities. Write down your thoughts. Share your ideas with a professional or someone you trust to be your “accountability buddy.”
In the second stage, Exploration, you want to answer the question “Where am I going?” Come up with your top three to five goals that match the information gained in the first stage. You will need to be clear about your personal and professional definitions of success. I suggest you make serious investments in the following 8 core priorities of your life:
1. Faith - activities that you will carry out to nurture your soul. For example, pray, meditate or attend a worship service with regularity and discipline. Keep a spiritual journal to stay focused on what is important to you. Can you think of other options?
2. Family – things that you will do to strengthen the relationships with your relatives and home life. If you want to spend more time with your family, specifically define what that means. What are your top five family priorities for this year?
3. Friends – actions you will take to build connections to those close to you. Every weekend make it a goal to call two friends. Replace Facebook time with face time – set a goal that you will see friends at least twice a month.
4. Finance – steps that you will take to improve your financial affairs. How much money will you have saved this year?
5. Fitness – activities that you will perform to improve your health and wellness. Define your daily exercise time – what works best for you, 30 minutes in the morning, afternoon or evening? What could you do to eat better?
6. Fun – pursuits that you will do to put more entertainment and enjoyment in your play and leisure life. Set a goal that every weekend you will do at least one “FUN” activity. How will you know if this year was totally fun for you?
7. Future Career – objectives you can take to advance your professional life. Update your resume twice a year.
8. Further Learning – steps you will do to gain more education, knowledge and understanding. What are your plans for continuing education? Are there any classes you would love to take? How many books will you read this year?
Third is the Implementation stage where you answer the question “How do I get there?” Here you are developing a strategic action plan to obtain your goals on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Make sure these goals are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-sensitive. At the end comes the Evaluation stage when you determine what went right and what went wrong. What adjustments need to be made with your goals and your behaviors?
Many people are too busy making a living that they don’t have time to make a life. You can not expect to continue down the same path and get the authentic changes you truly desire. Where you go in life is up to you? Where you go with your work/life balance should be by choice not chance. I will leave you with this one parting thought that I want you to answer for yourself: After reading this article, what do you need to start doing to get your life back in order?