Life balance has become a buzzword over the past several years. It seems like everybody is using it, striving for it, but what is life balance, and is it any good or just another buzzword? I will give you my perspective on the topic with the hopes to bring you a new way of how to think about it.
If you are striving for excellence, finding the balance between health, family, and business can seem impossible – but only if you follow the traditional idea of balance.
The main point is, balance is not as black&white as many people tend to think about it so let’s tap into the grey areas.
What is life balance?
What we typically understand under the term life balance is how we manage to achieve to do activities from different areas of life in a span of a day. And this is the main point I want to question. Why is it in a day? Why should we strive to do all these activities all in one day?
The proposition is that it leads to fulfillment and happiness, which I agree with. However when I imagine a typical, young entrepreneur and his lifestyle, what I see is him trying to squeeze in exercise in the morning (or throughout a day), then hits the work with a cup of coffee where he deals with problems from yesterday and new, that are piling up together with stress.
But that is his mission and a vision – he is making the world a better place, for himself, his family, and people he might not know.
Yet, when he comes home, he has a girlfriend or even a wife with a child waiting for him. He certainly is tired but they require his attention and so he complies, spends time and energy with them and is happy to hit the bed to start next day over again.
If this is how a well-balanced life looks like
How I look at life balance
As I am a big picture thinker, I might bring a new light into the topic. When we look at the isolated example of one day, it can become very stressful to manage and squeeze in all different aspects of your life into one day. And stressful does not equate balanced in my vocabulary.
Let’s expand the picture and look at it from the perspective of one week. Had I told you to do four activities, one spiritual, one physical, one mental, and hit your relationship goals on top of that, it might be challenging least to say, but it depends.
However, if I tell you to accomplish these four things in a span of a week, suddenly it becomes more manageable – you can focus on the mental area and physical during the work days and relationships and spiritual during weekends. There is less stress and you will have the results you strive for.
Let’s expand it beyond one week.
I got this idea from training periodization in sports. Over a year, an athlete has several periods that dictate his training and nutrition regime to achieve the best performance possible. For example, a runner will focus on mobility and aerobic building during winter months and as the season approaches, the intensity increases.
If you had to focus on mobility, base building and speed/strength all at the same time, you would go crazy – the training is not specific enough and you are trying to juggle too many things at once, compromising your results.
Do you do the same in your life?
Similarly, there are times in our life when we have to choose what we want to pursue. Maybe you want to focus more on relationships right now, maybe you want to focus on your business, spirituality or fitness. Choose what is right for you and do it for that period of time.
Finding your balance
Now, let’s define what is most important to you – finding your own balance. Maybe you are even relieved that you don’t need to focus on all the areas of life every day but that you can spread it over longer periods of time.
First of all, to define your balance, you need to know what is important to you right now. Maybe you are developing a business or maybe you are striving for a great relationship. Maybe you don’t want to push one specific area and spread yourself thin. Anything that works for you.
Take a piece of paper and write down the following four areas:
Now decide how you want to spread your focus. Which area is most important to you? Which is the least important? Just remember that you don’t want to have 0% focus on any area whatever your goals are. That means that even if you are building a business, you want to keep your relationships in check, intimate and not intimate.
The third step is to decide the time frame.
Do you want to check all the areas every day or at the end of the week, maybe month? I would suggest a frame of one week would be a beneficial cycle as it includes uptime and downtime in form of work days and a weekend.
Now you can get into more detail by describing activities that are involved in these areas, which days or hours you want to focus on a given activity.
By writing down these steps you will get your personal life balance cheat sheet, which will assist you in being fulfilled, happy and even productive without sacrificing any area completely.
The aim of this exercise is not to strive for perfection. If you are a high achiever you might have a tendency to keep refining things until they are perfect but be practical in your perfection.