In Life Balance, All Things Aren't Equal
So many of us seek "balance" in our lives. But what does balance really mean?
In the traditional sense, balance is a hanging scale, where there are two equal items on each side to keep it level. But when it comes to life balance, that model simply doesn't hold weight.
For starters, there's so much more than two neatly-bucketed activities coined "work" and "life." Each one of these would be filled to the brim with other categories like "family" and "health," and they can overlap and interchange between those two restricting buckets. What's more, due to limits of time and space (and sleep), it's impossible to evenly distribute all of life's activities in a way that allows equal amounts of time to be spent on each.
So when thinking about working toward life balance, it's important to shift away from the word "balance" itself, and instead focus on creating harmony among the different aspects of life. For maximum personal fulfillment, this would be done in a way where your activities are weighted and ranked according to what's most important to you (read: your personal values).
So how do you get started? First, it's important to clarify your personal values and rank them in order of importance. From there, take a hard look at your activities, identify which ones you're spending too much time on given your rankings, and see where you might be able to pull back without sacrificing other areas that are more important to you.
For example, if family time is your number one value, then make sure that's built in each day in some way. Create a "non-negotiable" priority for most days, like leaving work in time for family dinners, to help you create boundaries and stick to your plans. You may need to log back on after dinner to finish up a project, but you know you've stayed true to your priorities by ensuring you enjoyed family time. Of course, there will be exceptions, but the point here is to make your "non-negotiable" your general rule rather than the other way around.
Life is ever-changing, and there will always be new activities to juggle, rank and weigh. But when your personal values are crystal clear, it becomes easier to find harmony among them.