If you're an adult, chances are you have many priorities and it’s safe to say you stay busy. Balancing work, family, friends and “me” time can be challenging, and it can be really difficult to find a happy medium.
As a result of adulthood, a majority of us fall into a routine that prioritizes our career goals, and we end up sweeping our other hopes and dreams under the rug to be dealt with in our "spare" time. That poses one big problem – “spare time” is hard to come by. So what do we do?
It’s about actively seeking out balance. Balance is so important, regardless of your professional or personal situation. The stress that comes from having a full schedule of activities and responsibilities that don’t align with your passions can wear even the strongest person down. If I'm doing something I'm passionate about, I can do it for long periods of time. I love Uber driving and I have driven close to 300 miles and 12 hours before in a day; heading home sleepy because it's 3:30am--but not mentally tired. Take me shopping at IKEA and I'm ready to go home within minutes--tired, feet hurt, get me away from this! LOL
Do you find yourself spending too much time on tasks you don’t love? It may be time to rethink your priorities and start balancing your life approach. It may not be perfect, but finding the almost perfect work-life balance will allow you to gain peace and less stresses in your life. In the past I failed at this by saying "yes" to just about anything asked of me, and volunteering for several things. At one point my schedule was so packed of things to do--I didn't have 20 minutes to cut my lawn. I was working 6 days a week, coaching baseball, volunteering in two areas at church, watching my son play baseball or practice 6 days a week. I hired out that lawn cutting job and my inlaws cut it for me while I stayed on the go-go-go. Eventually my breakdown came.
Just doing these four simple things will help free up the time you need to pursue your passions and do the things that make you happy:
1. Define what's important. What values are most important to you? Maybe you aren't making the connection "balance to value", but this is the most important step! Once you know your values, it's easier to determine priorities, it's easier to know what to say yes and no to. Knowing your values will make it easy to determine priorities for your time, money and energy.
2. Set boundaries. Boundaries are to protect ourselves from getting hurt, overwhelmed, over-committed, etc. I've had to set boundaries because I was doing more for those outside my home than I was for those inside my home. I also was there for others, but didn't have time for Chris. I've come to know the truth: I am an important responsibility. I need to say no to good things so that I can say yes to the best things. With boundaries will come balance--saying no to things that don't fit with your values and top priorities will lesson frustration, bring more peace, free up more time and freedom.
3. Say 'no'. If you are like me, saying no feels hard. When I started saying it, I had thoughts of "I hope they aren't upset, will they still be a client...Saying no gets easier the more you say it. Saying 'no' is saying yes to something else, that something else that aligns with your values. You only have so much time in a day, week, life.
4. Arrange your actions with your values. Our stress and imbalances are mostly caused by spending energy on things that aren't in line with our values. Once you get good at or used to setting strong boundaries, saying "no" to things that don't align with your priorities---is putting your needs first. When you do this, you'll feel fulfillment and balance.
Evaluating these four four factors will help refocus and bring contentment. Finding your balance can make normal days feel great and stressful times manageable.
Chris & Jenn live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. They were high school sweethearts, marrying in 2001. They are parents to one son, Luke (born November 1999) and two loving pups: Miley & Elsie.