“A balanced and skillful approach to life, taking care to avoid extremes, becomes a very important factor in conducting one’s everyday existence.”Dalai Lama
We have all heard about the importance of living a balanced lifestyle! But how is this accomplished? Where do you even start? We are all built differently, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this. However, if you are here, reading this, it means you have enough drive and curiosity to try new things and implement the necessary changes to improve your quality of life.
I would like to share some tips that worked for me in my quest for finding and maintaining balance in my life.
First, we have to look at the seven different areas of our life individually. These are:
3. Career/ Business
6. Health and fitness
Keep in mind that I am making a list to deliver the contents of my thoughts in a manner that is easier to receive, process, and digest. However, in the realm of the abstract world, these aspects of our life do not operate independently of each other.
This is not intended to bypass your spiritual and personal development but rather to complement it. The spiritual aspect of life is listed first because, in my opinion, it is at the center of this dynamic, and all the other aspects of life revolve around it. Once you have a strong spiritual foundation, everything else falls into place more smoothly.
“There should be a balance between material and spiritual progress, a balance achieved through the principles based on love and compassion.”Dalai Lama
That being said, being that we live a hectic lifestyle that can pull us in many different directions, it can be hard to achieve this balance naturally, so here is a more methodical approach.
Start by taking inventory of each of these aspects of your life. Are you satisfied with your level of engagement in these areas? If not, is there a way you can show up for yourself more in each area? It is important to work towards growing in each of these aspects.
On the other hand, you could ask yourself if one of these areas takes up too much space in your life? If so, how can you create healthy boundaries around this? Creating boundaries around this will allow you to show up for yourself or others in the other aspects of your life.
For instance, if you are hyper-focused on your career and showing up in a manner that does not truly resonate with you, this will seep into the other areas of your life, leaving you feeling unfulfilled and drained out. This will, in turn, impact your ability to show up as the best version of yourself in your career. A boundary around this could be to stop responding to work emails, say, after 5 pm.
Another common item that may take up too much space in our lives might be our phone. It is important to stay connected, and there are huge benefits with technology. However, you may have to consider having some boundaries around this. In my case, I turned off as many notifications as possible. There is scientific evidence that every time the phone beeps, our body releases cortisol. In other words, this may contribute towards elevating our stress levels.
Moreover, I limit my time on social media because I find that I enjoy other hobbies, like writing blogs, more than that. Many people report that scrolling through social media leaves them feeling somewhat depleted, so, again, every person is different. This may not apply to you, but check in with your thoughts and emotions and notice how your body responds when you see certain images or opinions shared on social media. If this is not serving you, then consider utilizing your time better, doing something that brings you peace and joy.
We can achieve a better “flow” by understanding that these different aspects of our lives are interconnected.
This brings me to my next point: reassess your priorities. Are you prioritizing things properly? Does everything come with a sense of urgency? Do you say “yes” to the wrong people for the wrong reasons? If so, you may find yourself depleted and unable to show up in a healthy manner in your intimate relationships.
Keep in mind that saying “no” to something opens up an opportunity to say “yes” to something that serves you or puts you in a position to serve others authentically.
To assess your priorities, you have to nourish a certain sense of self-awareness. How do you feel when you give too much weight to something or not enough importance to another aspect of your life? Are you anxious or stressed out? Do you procrastinate in search of the “thrill” that comes with running late or cramming a project in at the last minute?
Observing yourself and how you respond to certain things gives you an indication that you should pause and reevaluate how much space this should hold in your life. For instance, when I feel resentment after doing something, it is usually an indication that I should put up a boundary around that. Of course, it could also mean that I am being immature or have unrealistic expectations around that. Either way, it’s worth pausing and considering the situation.
The purpose of this exercise is to identify what truly resonates with you and what priorities no longer serve you. You may discover that some of your priorities do not align with your current goals or values, or maybe you realize that they were built on other people’s expectations of what your priorities should be.
We are creatures of habit, and if you go inwards, you may identify the things you have been doing out of habit, which is no longer necessary. The objective is to invest less time and energy into the things that are less vital to you to make room for the things that truly align with your values, personal traits, desires, and mission in life.
Create a Vision
Once you have taken inventory of this, it is time to set goals and formulate a plan. When I started my mindfulness journey, I used to be very task-oriented, and I used to have a to-do list every day. The first step I took towards creating balance was that of putting myself on that list every day. I am a Christian, and I understand the value of serving others. That being said, I realized that I have to carve out time to do the things that I enjoy and find relaxing. By doing so, I was more motivated to show up for others in an authentic and caring manner.
If time and responsibilities were out of the picture, what would you be doing with your time? What are your hobbies? Start from there and start carving time out for that. Studies show that people have the hardest time adapting to this for the first 21 days when implementing a new strategy. After this, it becomes more habitual and easier to maintain the new habit. So, if you would like to exercise more, start by taking a walk around the block 3 times a week for 3 weeks. Once you are accustomed to that, then you can start walking 2 blocks every other day.
Release yourself from the shackles of your indecision. 15 minutes to walk around the block is doable….1 hour out of 6 weeks to get a massage is doable….stop saying you “do not have time”! We make time for what is important to us. Start putting your mental and physical health on your to-do list. If you cannot envision your ultimate goal at this time, there is no need to put too much pressure on yourself. Make small, reasonable changes and set micro-goals that are practical for you to achieve.
Pursue your Goals
The final step is to come up with a follow-up plan. Set a time slot every day to evaluate your day in terms of meeting goals and progressing. Be in tune with yourself so that you can tell when you are out of whack! Are you anxious when your life is not balanced? Are you focused and motivated when it is? Once you get a better understanding of where you stand, pat yourself on the shoulder for accomplishing any goals. Identify areas of opportunity. Hold yourself accountable without adding guilt or shame when you do not meet the goals. When you start making goals, you may over-shoot in the beginning. As you progress, you will learn to set more reasonable goals, so it is important not to get discouraged when you “fail.” If you do not meet your goal, that is fine; you can get back on track. Expect delays and expect setbacks. This is like the tango: you have to take a step back before taking a step forward.
Talk to a reliable, supportive friend or mentor about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable in a compassionate and uplifting manner.
You will have to repeat this process all over again once your micro-goals are achieved. It will take time, patience, and intention to create and maintain balance in your life. There is no destination when it comes to this. It is a journey that is going to require consistent check-ins and reevaluation. This will not happen overnight, and you will have to do some fine-tuning before finding that sweet spot. But it is worth the investment. Trust and enjoy the process and let go of the outcome. You deserve it!
Finally, as you work on refining yourself, learn to embrace and appreciate those aspects of yourself and your surroundings that appear conflicting, as they all play a part. There is a dynamic at play. The art of creating harmony and balance between all these interconnecting, seemingly opposing forces is what produces a compelling life.