Do you ever hear people say I need balance, or on the other end of the spectrum, balance is not realistic? Think to yourself: what does balance even mean or look like to you? Why would you want balance in your life?
- Do you want balance in your life because you think it will create happiness?
- Have you gotten so focused on your career that other areas of your life are failing?
- Do you want to give more or receive more undivided attention from your kids or spouse?
- Do you feel like your priorities are just out of whack?
- Are you someone who avoids the word “balance” because you think it will hold you back from success and it’s for the weak minded?
Let’s define what it means to you and how to strive for it.
What Does Balance Mean To You?
First, define what a balanced life looks like for you. To figure this out, I put the categories I want to see balanced in my life and the things I need to be fulfilled on paper. Here’s an example of how I break down balance in my life (in no particular order):
- Career: Working 50-ish hours/week in or on my business (events, production, sales, speaking & being on call 24/7)
- Fitness, Nutrition & Health: Training 3-5 times/week with a scheduled class or trainer, Eating clean food every day that I prepare or get from fit-flavors, drinking no more than 0-3 times/week (depends on social events/dates), sleeping 7-8 hours a night, carrying my water bottle
- Personal Development: Reading, writing, seminars, podcasts; something daily, typically 30-60 minutes
- Spirituality: Reading my bible daily, bible study weekly, attending church weekly
- Family: Ignoring my phone from 5pm - 8pm (fully present with kids), unplugging for most of Sunday, cooking for my family multiple times each week, date night with husband on Thursdays.
- Giving Back: Charity, mentorship, coaching, training, donating my time or money
- Friends: Dates, phone calls, events
- Nature: Gardening, quiet time on my deck alone or with kids, working on the yard
If you read these, I’m sure you connect with several really fast, and others don’t apply to you or apply to you yet. Or maybe you’re super strong in one area and lacking in another you want to improve on!
Recognize When You’re Out of Balance
For someone who has started a business from scratch, gone back to school, had two babies, opened three fit-flavors locations, kept a happy marriage, stayed fit, and who is continuing to strive for growth, balance has always been an important challenge.
I have not sustained perfect balance over the years. We need to be ok with and recognize setbacks as seasonal distractions. These are not permanent setbacks and they will pass!
Maybe a season at work where you’re working extra hours, just having a baby, an illness or injury, school, divorce, a move. Recognize them, know you’re doing your best, and work to get back to the goals you set to reach a lifestyle that fulfills you.
Say No & Set Boundaries With Others
Ever wonder how the day is over and you can’t imagine finding time to cook dinner or read a book? As my husband likes to say, “Jillian! Don’t let people or things suck from your time bank”.
We spend too much time on unproductive activities, such as someone keeping you on the phone too long, being on social media two hours/day just scrolling and liking, or watching three episodes of Game of Thrones, and not achieving things on your list that you really want and will fulfill you.
Recognize these as time sucks and not focused productivity. These things that we do out of habit are what makes us feel out of balance. It’s because we’re not using that time to work towards what we really want. If you want to spend more time with your kids or lose weight and you find that you let distractions “suck from your time bank” you might need to redirect your planning. It all matters.
Getting a paper planner was a huge game changer for me. I also use google calendar in conjunction with the written one. Google has been great for time blocking my day and letting me know where I need to be and on time. It’s all color coordinated to those topics above so I can easily see the balance. My written planner (The Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt; I’m not affiliated with the planner, I just genuinely like it) has been a game changer for productivity in meetings, organizing notes, prioritizing my to-dos for the day, and “crossing them off the list”.
My schedule actually says in time blocks: read bible, workout, shower, eat breakfast with kids, a list of my meetings or projects, time with family, time on the computer, events, and goal bedtime. I’ve found this works for me.
Also, know that it’s not perfect and I sometimes miss lower responsibility appointments each week when work takes priority. I have learned to respect boundaries and when I should say no. This takes time. Be patient.
Real Life Example: Finding My Balance with Nutrition
My Fitness, Nutrition & Healthy category comes much easier now, but for many years (6), it was a huge priority for growth on my topic list. Just like you might easily execute one of those topics like career or family, nutrition is easy for me, but it wasn’t 10 years ago.
I had just lost my first business, I was suffering from anxiety, started the fit-flavors concept, and was going back to school. This definitely was a time in my life I did not experience lifestyle balance.
I also didn’t have the education around nutrition like I do today. I was 17lbs heavier and thought carbs would make me fat if I ate them. I hadn’t made it a priority in the right way, so it was a big focus for me. Things like going out with friends were not a large priority, and I also didn’t have kids yet.
In order to make progress in this category, I knew I’d need to engulf myself in it daily. Some things I did to prioritize my Fitness, Nutrition & Health Category were:
- Watched a cooking show while walking on the treadmill
- Bought and cooked a new veggie each week
- Read cooking light vs social media because I wanted to organize my week of healthy eating
- Learned to create different flavor profiles for healthy cooking
It took YEARS for me to develop healthy habits around food, and now my nutrition is an easy part of my life.
Find Your Balance
Now that you have some tools to help you execute this, put pen to paper and get to work. You want X, you have to work for X. That means being productive, not busy and distracted.
Categorize your topics and fill in what you would love to have in your life on a weekly or monthly basis.
Next, tackle the calendar/planner. If you’re looking to make a huge pivot or lifestyle change, understand you can’t fill this out and in two weeks you’ll execute it with ease--that’s ridiculous. It will take months, possibly years.
I still haven’t fully figured out how to use every aspect of my daily planner...and I’m on month 4. It takes all my discipline not to fill out sticky notes then just lose them with peoples names, emails or opportunities, but I recognize that’s a bad habit and won’t get me closer to the life I want.
If you want to make a change with your fitness or nutrition I am here to help! You can reach me directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org