Chances are good, that you have felt at one time or another, that your life was not completely balanced. You may feel that you are running at 100 mph, your head is swirling and spinning like a washing machine with all of the things that you need to accomplish, and that try as you might, you just can’t seem to find that balancing point with day to day responsibilities, work, family, and social life.
Look up ‘balance’ on google, and you are bound to find a billion examples and advice columns about how to achieve life balance. Some folks even have what they call magic formulas on how to be centered in your life, balanced, and completely happy! Good luck with that! Read on…
Balance is never a formula, nor is it even a final goal or destination point. Balance is about consistently practicing mindfulness to your priorities, short and long term goals, and striving to never allow one particular area to outweigh other important areas of your life. And it is ongoing (lifelong).
With that said, I give you my own thoughts on the process of finding more balance in life:
1. One of my favorite exercises to give my clients, is to have them draw a pie. Like a pie, I have them divide it into slices. Each slice represents an area of your life (or role). For example: one slice will be your occupational life. One slice may be your passions/hobbies/interests. And so forth and so on. As a baseline estimate, I have them estimate out of 100%, how much attention in modern day is being given to each slice of the pie. Seeing this visual example, can be quite eye opening. I then, have them strive to start giving more attention to the areas that are lacking, and decreasing in the areas that are getting all of the focus (as much as possible). Then, in about 3 months, they draw another pie chart of their life. This can be very helpful in assessing your progress, and in the achievement of more balance in your life. Hint : Try it!
2. Set both long and short term goals. What exactly are those? It is easy to get confused by what the difference is. The best example I can give, is the process I went thru, in making the leap from years of working for group practices, into private practice. My long- term goal-was to completely leave the group practice setting and be 100% solo. But to do that, meant many small steps along the way (short term goals). I had to find the space to rent, hire a biller, get all of my insurance panels going, buy furniture, obtain insurance, get business cards and brochures done, Tax ID number (to name just a few). This process, in full, took about a year in the making. It was not so simple, as just saying, ‘I want to go into private practice’. I had to break it down into measurable steps. So each week, and month, had a small set of goals. Before I knew it, a year was up, and I was making the leap. Small goals are more measurable, and in the end-get you to that long term goal. If you do not go about it this way, much of the time, you end up overwhelmed, and throwing in the towel, as the frustrations and unexpected issues unfold.
3. Finally, you have to prioritize. On a daily basis, what are the priorities, that come hell or high water, have to be done today? What are the things that are not going to erupt a nuclear bomb if they do not get done? Another exercise that I commonly give my clients, is to make 2 daily lists of just that: The priorities and the maybes. The priorities have to get done that day. Hands down. Bad things will happen if they don’t. The maybes are things that need to get done, but if they do not it will likely not cause a disruption in the earth (so to speak). The maybes can in fact get pushed to the next day, or even several days later. This will help decrease the feelings of being overwhelmed, separate the forest from the trees, and you will still -in the end, be checking things off of the to do lists.
I hope that this has been helpful in giving you some practical ideas for the achievement of this thing called balance in your life. As always however, if those feelings of being overwhelmed are cycling into more of a depressive state, obviously you may need to contact a therapist such as myself who can be of further assistance.
I hope everyone has an amazing couple months, and that you find joy in working on the balance in your own lives!
~Tricia Stehle, LMSW