Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Feb 3, 2010

The Three Step Formula for Redefining Life Balance

Guest Blogger, Charlene, The Balance Beam.

A lot of people make an immediate mental leap from "life balance" to "work/life balance."

Newsflash: "Work/life" balance is a misnomer. Yes, work is a part of life. But so are family, education, community and taking care of yourself so you can handle it all.

The impossible quest for "work/life" balance somehow says that work and life are on the same playing field, vying for position. It implies teeter-totter energy. It assumes that when one side goes up, the other goes down and vice versa.There is a perpetual give and take... with parallel neutrality being the ideal scenario.

Personally I think this is neither realistic nor desirable.

First of all, I'm not sure we want our lives to be "neutral." Surely we have more ambition than that! Most career-minded individuals I know want life to include some measure of hard work and I'm sure any boss we’ve ever had would be happy to know this.

Life is a juggling act, not a teeter-totter ride. Work is just one ball in the mix.

Here's the real secret: Life balance is not about keeping all those balls in the air in perfect rhythm at all times. Of course we try. It's important to have strategies around getting stuff done.

Still, the world is an unpredictable place and let's face it, we're human. Sometimes those balls are going to drop through some misstep of our own or with the help of others. We may even lose a ball for a while. Sometimes it feels like we are juggling bowling balls. They may turn into a little evil monster heads and try to eat our face. Like I said before, stuff happens.

The thing to remember is that true life balance is internal.

What's most important is the balance within you -- your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual self. When those things are in harmony, the objects of external life can explode into flaming stink bombs and you'll be just fine.

So how exactly do we get to that place of inner harmony while mired in the stress and demands of “external” day-to-day life?

Next time you feel “out of balance,” focus on three steps:
1. Internal -- Transform thoughts, feelings, words, feeding only positive energy.

When you find yourself thinking or saying such sentiments as, “What a horrible day!” “I’m so tired.” “My boss is such a (fill in the blank) “I’m not making enough money!” STOP. Energy flows where attention goes. You get back what you put out. Only invest in the positive.

2. External -- Engage in healthy, healing actions.
This may require honesty as well as discipline. Put forth the effort to align actions with goals. There’s an old saying, “Trust in God but tie your horse to the post.” If you see your horse galloping away, start being real about what part you may have played in that misfortune. And, learn how to tie a good knot already.

The key is starting. Not tomorrow, not on Monday, not on the first full moon of the leap year. NOW. Whether its meditation, fitness, a creative outlet or whatever; focus on daily activities which are aligned with your life balance goals.

3. Support -- Ask for help.
Get feedback, physical assistance, accountability and/or just the time and space for steps #1 and #2 to be possible. We don’t need to do anything alone.Many of us grew up such that we view asking for help as a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength. If you don’t feel comfortable leveraging your “in real life” network, there is a virtual support system for just about anything.

Practicing these steps will provide you with the balanced internal foundation needed to cope, problem solve, persist and overcome anything that comes your way.

Including evil monster heads.

Related Resources
Life is NOT a Teeter-Totter
Find Your Strongest Life (Marcus Buckingham book)
Find Your Strongest Life  (book review)
How I Took Back My Life Through the Miracle of Outlook

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