The five work/life balance tips I share below are a lot like the great tightrope balancing acts my family and I enjoy watching on America’s Got Talent. Watching the intense concentration and pure agony on the performer’s face as they focus on not slipping is both terrifying and oddly entertaining. I know the brave performer has spent countless hours training their muscle memory and planning their routines to ensure their next step will not be their last.
Managing balance in life, thankfully, is not a life-or-death situation like this. It takes daily planning, training, and consistent evaluation to ensure you achieve balance, of course, but sometimes, you will lose balance and fall off the rope, and that is okay! What matters is that you have the self-awareness to see you have fallen, the strength to dust yourself off, and the courage to get back on the rope.
For me, staying on the rope of work-life balance is a daily struggle. I have a fast-paced 40-plus hour work week that requires working on individual projects and leading a team. I also have a young family of four, personal ambitions, and a spiritual life I am committed to nurturing for my time on this earth.
If you are reading this post, I am sure you have a similar cross to bear. Read below for five work-life balance tips that have helped me have joy in my busy life:
1. SET YOUR PRIORITIES
In 2014, my wife and I welcomed our first child. I had recently been promoted into a leadership role at my job. Up to this point, I thought I had life pretty well figured out. Moreover, I had an idea of the goals I wanted to achieve and the type of person I wanted to be. But I never put much thought into the details. I thought if I did the right things and worked hard, my life’s desires would magically fall into place.
But as my first child arrived, the anxiety of more responsibility set in. I knew my perspective needed to change. Right around this time, I stumbled upon an interview with author Tim Ferris for his book Tools of Titans. His perspective on how to balance life without sacrificing personal ambitions struck a chord with me. I went online immediately and purchased his book. As I tore through the pages, I realized I needed to align my lifestyle with my ambitions. But first, I needed to set my priorities.
2. DEVELOP DAILY SYSTEMS
Systems, as defined by author/blogger Scott Adams, are loosely defined goals that put focus on developing knowledge that pushes you toward long-term success. Systems help to form habits, which, in turn, make setting priorities more of a natural progression to your day. Similar to a professional football coach who scripts his first 15 offensive plays before heading into a big game, I found scripting my daily routines according to my priorities the night before helped lessen my daily anxiety.
I have developed multiple systems to align my priorities with my daily tasks, such as establishing a daily routine of mindfulness meditation to help with focus and clarity of thought. With a clear head, I am able to give more of myself to each priority!
3. CREATE PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
Personal accountability is the belief you are responsible for your actions and their consequences. Establishing personal accountability keeps me on the path to maintaining my priorities.
Not long ago, I came across an app called “Headspace” that I now use to keep me accountable for my goal of daily meditation. It even has a streak counter that celebrates milestones of daily meditation! Seeing that ticker move after each meditation session brings me a sense of joy and accomplishment. As I type this blog, my streak is sitting at 1,328 consecutive days! Find out what keeps you motivated to stay on track and use it.
4. LOSE THE EGO
We all tell ourselves lies to make ourselves feel better. These lies are the ego-motivated artificial excuses that drive imbalance in our lives. Famous physicist Richard Feynman shared how to overcome these voices: “The first principle is you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” It is easy to be convinced the irrational fears that run through your head every day are facts. Things like “If I don’t stay at work late every day, I won’t get that promotion!” or “If I take time off, the team will fail!”.
To combat these voices, some people try to ignore them. Instead, I say, question them. Does working late actually guarantee me a promotion? Is my team that fickle that they cannot survive a week without me? When internal self-reflection draws the same conclusions, take your fears to your direct supervisor, and get their thoughts. Chances are the appropriate adjustments can be made at your workplace to get you back on balance. Don’t fall victim to the relentless echo chamber in your head!
5. REVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES
It is natural to be afraid of change. But oftentimes, change can be a good thing.
After I was promoted to supervisor, I noticed one of my employees working late, and I inquired about the task making her do so. It was a report her prior supervisor had instructed her to compile and save on our network twice a week. I reviewed the report and inquired which customer was reading it. She did not know the answer. I did more due diligence and concluded no one was reading the report! So, I ended the task, allowing my employee to leave on time. Don’t be afraid to question the priorities in your life that cause you to lose balance!
Work-Life balance is a lifelong journey that will have its ups and downs. Embrace the changes life throws at you, and you can consistently maintain the balance you are searching for.