Don’t Worry, Be Balanced!

You hear it all the time, from ads promoting probiotics that balance your colon health to tennis shoes that balance your walk, a balanced life is of key importance. But how do you know the difference between just being busy or really out of balance?

One alert is obvious. How do you feel? Very stressed? Exhausted at the thought of an unrewarding routine? Signs that some areas of your life are sapping your energy tend to be obvious. Especially if you’re not feeling well, keep in mind facts like this from the Center for Disease Control: the annual medical costs for just one condition, like obesity, are about $147 billion! Invest in balancing your priorities. It’s good for you and your wallet!

First though, how do you get your life in balance?

By knowing what it means to YOU, and that starts with assessing your priorities and activities.  According to psychologists, your life phase and life experiences, personality and up-bringing will determine the underlying priorities in your life. Try to list those (do some research if you need more information to identify life phases, etc.). Then add activities from the two areas psychologists say form people’s daily lives: Inner (spiritual, intellectual and psychological) and Outer (social, professional, recreational and physical).

To see how these factors fit together consider the following. Say you’re a college student cramming for exams. You’re probably not prioritizing exercise into your day. Maybe that’s because you’re in a young life phase and feel full of energy. But what if you rise with a yoga exercise and meditation routine every morning before cramming for exams? That could be because growing up your family was health conscious (or maybe the opposite) but either way that experience influenced you and defines at least two priorities in your daily routine, meditation (spiritual) and yoga (physical)!

After you identify your activities, the next step is rating the satisfaction you get from them. Try a simple Poor to Good or a 1 to 5 system. If you love going to work you might rate that activity, which falls into the professional group, as a 4 or better. Rate all the areas of your life. Then chart the information with a graph or ranked list.

Last, decide what you can do and are willing to do to get more satisfaction into those life areas that you rated low. You’ll probably have to do that by taking time from one activity to put into another, hence the term “balancing”! Just keep in mind that wise Chinese adage, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and don’t be afraid to tackle an area with small improvements. Be creative and have fun with your choices, like ranking your list in a ‘me-time’ bubble bath. Just taking time for yourself can turn feeling harried into feeling empowered, lower your stress and yes, begin that life balancing act!!

Here’s your quick 4-point checklist:

1. Identify what having a balanced life means to you. Discover your life-phase, background and Inner and Outer activity areas.

2. Rate your satisfaction with activities using a simple Good to Poor or 1 to 5 system

3. Turn those numbers into a ranked list or diagram to see the results

4. Tackle the list with a slow but sure attitude. Don’t stress over what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do, and do it!