The elusive dream – work life balance

play-family-work.jpg

The infamous, ephemeral work life balance.  Family.  Career.  Success.  Personal Fulfillment. Is it really possible to “have it all”? I think so.   But I also think it’s a life’s work.

Work/life balance may seem impossible to maintain at certain points in life.  When you get married. When your children are very small.  When you just got that promotion. When you are in survival mode.

It’s not impossible but…

The truth is, that at any one given moment, you will usually be putting all the weight on one aspect of work/life balance. If you look at things one minute, one hour, even one day at a time, you won’t necessarily see balance.  You have to step back and look at things over a reasonable amount of time.  And by the way, there may even be times when for years, the balance is tilted heavily towards one thing or another.

How can you realistically drive that balance? I believe it comes down to one thing.  Prioritization.

Prioritization

Well, that’s easy enough. Right? But then, if we are driven by priorities, isn’t life a never-ending series of handling whatever is urgent now, today? So many of us live in that place our entire lives. Attending to today’s fire drill and wondering when we will ever have time for the things we love. Or want. Or need.

So, it’s not just about prioritizing what you do based on what life throws at you. It’s about defining your priorities, so you can steer life in the direction you want it to go. Do you know what your life priorities are?

Life priorities

Life priorities are the things that matter most to you, in all domains of your life: career, health, family, spirituality, financial, self-fulfillment.  Whoa, that’s a lot of things to be juggling and trying to keep balanced.

Here are some of my life priorities just to give you a sense.

Health                                                       Career                              Financial

Keep my back pain free                         Do what I love                 Invest in retirement

Maintain my weight at 180 lbs.            Love what I do                 Don’t take on any more debt

 

Life priorities are really about your values. What do you value most?

What we value changes over the span of our lives. Staying in touch with what’s most important for you in this phase of your life enables you to plan for it, and to weight your balance accordingly.

Example

My career values not many years ago were all about success in corporate environment. Of course, I still care about being successful. But I care more now about shifting the amount of time spent doing things that I love in a work environment of my choice. As a result, I am embarking on the adventure of coaching and consulting.

My financial goals shifted from helping my kids with college / get a good start in life to focusing on preparing for my retirement. My career goals shifted when my financial goals did. I would not have been able to take the step to focus on coaching if I was still striving to pay college bills.

Setting goals

Once you know what your priorities are, you can set goals. By looking at where you were 5 years ago, where you are today and painting a vision of where you want to be in 5 years from now, you will design a powerful roadmap for your life.

We make hundreds of little decisions every day. We often make them based on how we feel in that exact moment instead of based on any specific plan or direction. Imagine how powerful it is when every decision you make is informed by your life priorities. You can’t there if you don’t know where you are going.

Make yourself a map! You can do that by defining your life priorities. As a life and career coach, one of my favorite exercises is helping to define and use life priorities as a lighthouse, shining the way towards the future you want for yourself. Check out the Work Life Balance Workbook to work through your life priorities.   And don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to leverage a coach to define a timeline, hold yourself accountable and find answers in yourself you didn’t even know were there.