“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”
~ Zig Ziglar
I’m writing to update you on how I’ve been doing with creating balance in my life.
All in all, I’d give myself a C+ so far in 2014…I’m definitely doing better than my previous “average”, and I also know I have a lot of room for improvement.
There are a lot of elements that I am working on balancing…everything has to do with how I spend my time & energy, but I’ll elaborate on these elements to give you a better picture of what exactly I consider to be in the scope of “parts of my life where I want to create balance.”
In terms of what I use my brain power on, I’m roughly categorizing this list from “biggest” to “smallest” — although I fully recognize that time spent thinking about or doing something is time spent thinking about or doing something, regardless of what it is. Here is a taste of what I’m working on balancing in my life, in no particular order:
- hubsby – family – friend time
- planning for the future – being in the moment
- writing – photography – work for Dad – fitness – leisure/play/travel/adventuring – rest – growth – creating
Can you relate?
As I look at the list, I’m definitely overwhelmed. And at the same time, I’m so SO grateful that these are the things that I get to focus on in my life, considering that a lot of people in the world are focused on very different things [like where their next meal is going to come from].
So what, specifically, have I been doing in order to create more balance in my life?
Well, for starters, in the first week of the year I printed out a huge calendar for all of 2014 and got it laminated. Using dry-erase markers, I filled in what various trips, weddings, and events we’d already committed to for the year, using colors to indicate the various areas of our lives – our little fambly of 2, the Mehta family, the Strack family, our Friend family, and then everything else. The photo below is a current picture of said calendar…
I love being able to see what I’ve committed in terms of the bigger 2014 picture. The color coding made it really easy for me to see if there was a discrepancy in how I was spending my time for the year…
And there was. As it turned out, if we went on all of the planned Mehta family trips & vacays for this year, we would’ve spent around 20 (unpaid) days off with that side of our family. Given that E and I don’t get paid time off, part of our new commitment to creating balance includes balancing the number of days off that we take between ALL of the important facets of our lives.
So, for the first time in three decades (since Sean was born), I turned down a Mehta family vacation. And it was TOUGH. Over the years I’ve gotten used to always saying yes and building my life around that decision. However, now that I’m married and have started a NEW family with E (a family of TWO, no…I’m not preggers!), I’m making different choices.
I suppose creating balance isn’t always going to be easy. It was definitely tough to say no to an opportunity to spend quality time with the Mehta fam. At the same time, I am excited to put those days towards spending more quality time with E! Perhaps I can make this whole balance thing work for me, after all. 🙂
I also printed out my vision statement, and have that hanging on the wall by my desk. I like to read it at least once a day to get me centered and remind me of who I am stepping into being, each and every day.
That’s most of the bigger picture stuff. In my daily activities, I’m still figuring out what works best for me in terms of productivity and balance. I read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen and also attended a seminar held by him a few years ago. His whole spiel is about creating an organizational system to get things out of our heads, so we can use our brains for processing things, as opposed to storing things [since we’re only usually built to remember 7+/- 2 things]. I absolutely love his end goal, and am still doing trials of various processes to achieve it for myself.
I’m using Evernote to “collect” all of the stuff in my life…whether it’s something I want to write about, an idea for a creative project, a place I want to vacation, some toiletries I need to buy…whatever it is, it goes into Evernote, using the GTD organizational structure (which basically categorizes items by location where they’re to be completed, which is the key).
Then whenever I have some free time, I can pull up the notebook that’s applicable for my current circumstance, and see what DIRECT next steps I’ve listed for myself there, and start working through whatever I think I can finish in the time that I have available to me.
In theory, the whole system is amazing, and I’m sure that one day, when I am using it consistently, it will be. However, my current challenge is remembering to look at it all the time…or even WANTING to use it all the time. Sometimes I just want to sit and meditate/relax when I have some free time…and I’m still figuring out how to work that into my model for productivity. I fully recognize the benefits of relaxing [and napping!], and am learning how to balance that with the other aspects of my life.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that I’ve found a magical formula to balance, and in fact, I highly doubt that there is one. In order to maintain balance, an important part of my intention is to stay flexible, so I can readily adjust to anything that comes my way.
I’m focusing on asking myself “how satisfied do I feel with the amount of time I’m spending … [with my hubsby, writing, working for dad, reading, working out, etc.]?” And if I’m not feeling satisfied in one area, I figure out where I might be over-indulging, and make an adjustment. Of course these levels of satisfaction are totally mood/day/what have you dependent, hence the flexibility, and my commitment to creating balance.
This month alone, I think I’ve gone from a C- or a D up to a B- from all of 2013 [and my life prior to that], so I’m pleased with my progress, and I’m eager to continue this balancing act! 🙂
Please share any tips & tricks that you have for creating balance in your life in the comment section below or on Facebook!