Written by Gillian Nuttall.
All work and no play would make, in my case, Gill a dull girl. As discussed in Eknath Easwaran’s book, ‘Take Your Time: The Wisdom of Slowing Down’ (link http://www.easwaran.org/eknath-easwarans-take-your-time.html) achieving balance and effectiveness is an acquired skill, and one that has to be continually developed and improved.
In the age of instant access, with mobile phones, tablets, laptops and social media meaning we can always be contacted, people are also juggling more roles than ever before….…..parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend, colleague. It would be easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel and find your life taking a direction you hadn’t chosen or planned on.
But by trying to be all things to all people, we sometimes don’t remember to give ourselves ‘thinking time’. Giving yourself breathing space to clear your mind and evaluate what is important is the first stage in creating a master plan to achieve better balance.
Begin by selecting the areas of your life that are most important to you such as family, relationships, friends, career, health, recreation and personal development. Think what your ideal scenario would be in each area and honestly assess on a scale of one to ten where you are just now. This helps you identify what actions you need to take to bring your life back into balance.
This advice may seem obvious but how often in your daily schedule do you actually stop and think about what you are doing, whether it’s the best use of your time, and whether it’s getting you where you want to be?
For me being ‘fully present’, healthy and able to enjoy lots of quality time with my two young sons, lovely husband and close circle of family and friends is what is most important to me. That being said I value the financial security that allows me to provide my family with a good lifestyle, so having a career is important too. I also understand that I need time to myself to do the things that are good for me, so I am able to bring my best self to the table in my other roles. Pulling this off takes a bit of forward planning.
By ‘fully present, I mean that when I am in my family/recreation time I want my mind to be with me, soaking up everything that is happening and building memories. For many of us this can be a real challenge, with thoughts of work and other obligations easily seeping in and taking over. This is why it is so important to decide what type of career option is best for you, from what type of role suits your skills and personality best, to what sort of organisational culture you value, to what type of people you see yourself working with.
You spend a big part of your life at work so it is vital that you make it a requirement to do something you enjoy. Life is too precious to get that ‘sinking feeling’ on a Sunday night. Global Jobs Network was formed by Gordon and myself following our own advice! If your career is taking the path you want it to, it frees up your mind for the other important aspects of your life. This is something our consultants can help you with.
Time for yourself is another important aspect of achieving balance. Identify what works for you and be uncompromising about incorporating that into your weekly schedule. Another good tip is to actually plan in time to do nothing. Mark it on your calendar and make sure you keep that time clear for whatever you feel like doing when the time comes.
Be realistic. Thinking in advance about priorities helps you identify what your input is required for and what you can ‘outsource’ or ask for help with. Before you commit to something ask yourself, is it in line with your priorities, do you want to do it, do you need to do it? Only say yes if it works towards your goals. Identify what is most important for you at any point in time and stay focussed on that activity. You can only effectively do one thing at a time and you will feel better when you finish what you have started.
Make sure you do something each day you enjoy. Whatever is on your agenda for that day, having something to look forward to lifts your mood and makes you more effective. This can be as simple as planning to go for a walk at lunchtime but it only works if you actually do it!
Achieving balance is possible if you put the time in up front and maintaining balance is easier if you continue to prioritise, evaluate and value your own time.
‘Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance’. Brian Tracy