Do you find yourself getting frustrated as you try to juggle your job with family responsibilities? Are you finding little or no time to take care of your personal needs and to experience joy?
Whether you intend it or not, you create the life you live. If you are living a chaotic life, however, don’t despair. Use the suggestions below to start developing more balance.
A powerful way to begin the process of establishing balance in your life is to contemplate questions that will help you clarify what balance means to you and how you might create it.
To get going, write down all thoughts that come to you while contemplating the following questions:
1. What does a balanced life look like to me?
2. What is it like for me when I picture myself living a balanced life right now?
3. What can I do to start creating a balanced life?
4. What action will I take this week toward creating more balance in my life?
Brainstorm as many ideas as you can, no matter how outrageous some might seem at first. For example, you may have to seriously consider giving something up. Be patient. You may need several lengthy sessions to devise the perfect plan. It is important to be completely open to all possible ways of finding balance in your life. The more open you are, the more you will see opportunities.
Below are two examples of fitness professionals leading frenzied lives who decide to explore ways to create more balance. Get inspired by their ideas for change, or use their solutions to jumpstart your own.
Paige is a 32-year-old single mother with two children ages 7 and 9. She is a group exercise instructor teaching at three local health clubs during school hours. Weekdays, she gets herself and her family ready for the day, takes her children to school and then goes to work. Paige rarely has time for lunch. In the afternoon, she picks up her children and drops them off at various activities. On the way home, she runs errands. Evenings consist of making dinner and sack lunches, doing the dishes, helping with homework, picking up the house and reading the children stories before putting them to bed. Paige then plans her lessons for the next day, selecting and organizing her music. At 9:00 pm she collapses in front of the television, trying to clear her head. At around 10:00 pm she drags herself off to bed. Paige feels numb at the end of each day and wants more joy in her life.
Contemplating Balance. Paige decides to explore ways to create greater balance in her schedule. For several nights after the children are in bed, instead of watching television, Paige comes up with answers to the following questions:
What does a balanced life look like to me?
- I have ample time to spend with my children.
- I have time to read, paint and garden.
- I have time to eat a healthy lunch.
- I have time to spend with my friends or talk to them on the phone.
- I am fully present to my children, clients, friends and myself instead of always worrying about the next thing I need to do.
Then she asks herself, “What is it like for me when I picture myself living this balanced life right now?”
- I feel relaxed and happy.
- I feel deep love for my children, and we have more fun together.
- I feel calm, which allows me to treat others and myself kindly.
- I greet each day with joy and feel creative.
- I arrive at my job eager to teach.
Changing Her Life. After brainstorming ideas, Paige asks herself, “What can I do to start creating a balanced life?”
1. Help my children be more responsible by teaching them skills such as making their own lunches. This will give me extra time in the evening to do more fun activities with the children.
2. Explore the possibility of working at two health clubs instead of three.
3. Organize carpooling to after-school activities so that when it’s not my turn to drive, I can have coffee with a friend for an hour.
4. Instead of watching television after the children are in bed, read or call a friend.
5. Instead of socializing after my 11:00 am class, stop at a park that is on my way to my 1:00 pm class and eat a light, healthy lunch.
6. Create a small garden plot for my children so that we can garden together on weekends.
7. Arrange with my neighbor to take turns looking after each other’s children on a Sunday afternoon, so that when my kids are next door, I can paint uninterrupted.
Finally, she asks herself, “What action will I take this week toward creating more balance in my life?”
1. Contact the parents of children involved in my kids’ after-school activities and see if I can organize a carpool.
2. Teach the children to make their own lunches.
3. Buy a book to read for pleasure.
Joe is a married, 28-year-old personal trainer. He provides a monthly online newsletter for his clients and is a regular contributor to fitness publications. He works with clients 6:00–9:00 am, noon–1:00 pm and 5:00–9:00 pm during the week, and 8:00 am–noon on Saturdays. During his downtime, Joe updates his client files, returns phone calls, writes articles and reads professional journals. It is not unusual for him to work 15-hour days. Joe is beginning to realize that the lack of balance in his life is making it hard for him to give his best to his clients. He has little time for his own workouts and is not spending enough time with his wife and friends. Feeling frustrated at the end of each day, Joe finds it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
Contemplating Balance. Joe understands that striking a better balance among his activities is crucial if he wants to live a more satisfying life. Between his lunchtime and evening clients, Joe contemplates the following questions:
What does a balanced life look like to me?
- I have more time to spend with my wife and hang out with friends.
- I have time to exercise.
- I have a small block of time to do whatever I want to do.
- I am full of energy, so I can give my best to my clients.
- I am intensely focused on my writing.
- I sleep deeply every night.
Then he asks, “What is it like for me when I picture myself living a balanced life right now?”
- I feel energized each day after a sound night’s sleep.
- I am amazingly creative in my writing.
- I am completely present for my clients.
- I feel satisfied and fulfilled.
- My wife and I are closer than ever.
- I find great joy in the company of my friends.
Changing His Life. After brainstorming ideas, Joe asks, “What can I do to start creating a balanced life?”
1. Give up personal training on Saturdays and finish at 8:00 pm during the week. Raise my fees to make up the difference financially.
2. Be more efficient in how I organize my time between clients. Use the hours between 9:00 am and noon for paperwork and between 1:00 and 5:00 pm for personal time. Schedule all personal activities into my day timer so that I stay committed to them. Meet my wife for a lunch date at least once a week and get together with friends at a coffee shop once a week. Do my own workout between clients as well. Leave some free time at least twice a week for spontaneous, pleasurable activities.
3. Invite friends to the house for dinner one Saturday night a month.
Finally, he asks himself, “What action will I take this week toward creating more balance in my life?”
1. Talk to my Saturday and 8:00 pm clients and offer to refer them to other personal trainers or put them on a waiting list for when another time with me becomes available.
2. Figure out how much I need to raise my fees.
3. Schedule my own workouts Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1:30 pm.
4. Schedule lunch with my wife on Tuesdays at 1:30 pm.
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