It’s so easy for our lives to become out of balance. It creeps up on us without our even being aware. Here’s how to get the balance right in all areas of your life.
The first indication we are out of balance is generally our health. We can get cold after cold as our body runs down. We are encouraged to ‘take a pill and soldier on’. Often a major health, relationship or financial crisis is needed to get our attention. Then we must finally get in touch with our thoughts and our feelings, as lifestyle changes need to be considered.
In these busy times we need to live with awareness, to make conscious choices based on the values we live by. We cannot think clearly, or make rational decisions, when we’re under stress.
With a full time career our life can become a round of working, eating, and sleeping. When we do have some down time, we’re too exhausted to enjoy anything.
If we work at home, the lines between work and home can easily become blurred. Our clients often expect us to be on tap in the evenings and weekends, just when we need to rest our mind and enjoy other activities.
When looking at the balance between work and life, also look at the balance within your lifestyle - all aspects of your life.
But how can you bring your work and home life into balance if you really have no idea of how you are living now. Take a few precious moments each day over the next week for a ‘life check’.
Write down how much time you spend in various activities using the following four categories as a guide.
1. Nurturing yourself.
This is the most important category, as unless we nourish ourselves first we cannot take care of others. Note the time you allow for yourself. You may be quite surprised.
* Spending time with yourself, relaxing, reading (something pleasurable, not work related)
* Attending to your basic bodily needs; eating healthily; exercise - walking, swimming, going to a gym; enjoying nature - your garden, the bush or the beach to recharge; taking care of your health - visiting the doctor and dentist.
* Body pampering - massage, manicure or pedicure, visiting the hairdresser, enjoying a soak in the bath.
* Enjoying hobbies - fun and relaxing classes, expressing yourself creatively.
* Nurturing your spiritual self, your soul - meditating, quietening your mind. Quiet times allow you the space to tune into your intuition - our most powerful tool.
2. Nurturing your home
* Taking care of your home - your haven from the busy world, your sanctuary. Your home is also a living entity and needs to be nurtured.
* Picking and arranging flowers, lighting candles, ‘cleansing’ your home, playing music. Bring your home to life.
* Expressing your creativity within the home, arranging the furniture, decorating, adding little touches to make it your own special place.
* Clearing out any unwanted clutter, letting go of anything that doesn’t enhance your life and uplift you.
* Gardening, cleaning and attending to any maintenance jobs. Keep your home fresh, sparkling and ‘glowing’.
We also need to be amongst others, our friends and family who keep our feet on the ground and give us a different perspective.
* Spending time with your spouse or partner - going out for dinner, relaxing by the fire or walking along a beach. Just being together, doing whatever you enjoy doing.
* Spending time with your family - having fun together.
* Enjoying your friends - being with them or chatting on the phone.
* Holidays - these are so important to get right away from the pressures of everyday life. When you are relaxing in a totally different environment you will find that the ideas flow as you are able to look at things in a whole new light. You will come home invigorated, ready for the next challenge, better able to make any changes you need to make.
The ‘business’ area of your life.
* Time spent at your work - your career.
* Voluntary work - giving back to the community.
* Nurturing your workplace, making it attractive and pleasurable to be in. Adding little touches such as fresh flowers, crystals, an aromatherapy burner and pictures.
* Keeping your office and desk clean and tidy. Keep filing up to date, the paper clutter in order and under control. Attend to paper the day it arrives, reply if necessary or file away - or bin if it’s irrelevant. A pile of papers on your desk will make you feel exhausted as you think about what you need to do to clear it.
* Attending to your financial responsibilities - balancing the chequebook, banking, paying accounts, seeing your accountant.
At the end of seven days draw a circle on a piece of paper and roughly divide it into these four segments. This will show you where any imbalances lie.
Now that you can see where your waking hours are used, you are aware of where your hours disappear.
If you find that your work area dominates the rest of your chart, you need to sit down and see how you can change that. Many find the self-nurturing to be the smallest area, and that which needs urgent attention.
If you are already living a balanced life, that’s great - but if you aren’t, then where do you start? Here are a few ideas
* Understand what motivates you - are you driven from within, from your own desires. Does your job really nourish you or are you acting a part in someone else’s dream?
* You may choose a less demanding job - less pay but more freedom to do what you want.
* Define work and non-work time. Set your boundaries and stick to them. The more often you say no to things that don’t fit your new way of life, the easier it becomes. Delegate where you can.
* Let your clients know that you are happy to talk or meet with them during business hours. Use your answerphone to screen after-hours calls.
* Take regular days off - right away from your work environment. This is very important if you work from home, as it is so easy to pop into the office to attend to just one thing!! You spot something else and then something else, and before you know it a couple of hours have passed.
* Set up simple and efficient systems so you don’t waste time looking for things.
* Discipline yourself to adhere to your new schedule.
* Enjoy regular holidays with a complete change of scene. Holidays and relaxing times bring new ideas and a fresh approach to your work.
* Clear any clutter from your life. A simple life makes for an enjoyable life. It is so draining if you are bogged down by paper, stuff, or people who will take your energy if you allow them. Make sure your friends and colleagues enhance and uplift you.
Any time you feel you are again caught up and that life is passing you by, stop and take time out to review what is happening.
Make a regular ‘life check’ a habit - check in on thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, until it becomes a natural part of your every day life.
We don’t need to have a crisis in our life for us to make lifestyle changes. Rearrange your life before it gets to that stage. As Stuart Wilde says “Life doesn’t need to be a struggle”.
It’s a journey to be enjoyed along the way. Make the choice to live fully and consciously with awareness and really love your lifestyle.
By Suzanne Boult
Originally published in Her Business magazine.
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