Time Out: Taking the Next Step Toward a Balanced Life

An excerpt from the seminar “Your Career and Your Life: Balancing the Balancing Act”

For most people, the only time their lives seem in perfect balance is on vacation, when they relax and enjoy everything around them. But in our day-to-day activity, life feels unbalanced and provides a very bumpy ride.

To balance your life, begin by assessing your satisfaction with the eight sections of the Wheel of Life: Career, Money, Health, Friends & Family, Romance, Personal Growth, Fun & Recreation and Physical Environment. Give each a score from 0 to 10, with 0 being “completely dissatisfied” and 10 being “completely satisfied.”

Now look at your scores. What one area, if you could raise it one point, would make a difference in a few of the other areas? Then decide the first step you need to do to raise that area to the next level, and when and how you will proceed.

For example, maybe you ranked “physical environment” a 3, because you are unhappy with the office you maintain for your home-based business. Your messy work environment is impeding your career, which impacts your finances and causes you to spend time working that you could be spending on fun and at the gym, improving your health.

You have thought about this issue often, and the litany goes like this: My career isn’t doing well because my office is a mess, and I really need more room but I can’t afford a bigger home or rented office space, and I can’t increase my income because I’m surrounded by all this clutter because I really need more room and I can’t afford to move … and round and round you go.

Time out! Forget what it would take to raise your physical environment to a 10: what is the next step to raise it from a 3 to a 4? That’s easy, clean up your work surfaces. And what is the next step needed to do that? Get rid of all that paper. Some of the paper just needs to be filed away, but some of it requires action. The next step is clear: divide the clutter into two piles, things that need filing and things that need action.

Now set a deadline. Tomorrow you can get up early and tackle it for two hours, and it will be done by Friday. On Friday, determine the next step to remove the clutter. If you decide to hire a teenager to file part-time, how will you find the right person? You may decide to ask your friends if their children are interested in the job, or to post a notice on a community bulletin board. You can have someone working by next Wednesday.

Now tackle the papers that need action, and prioritize them by difficulty of task or date due. Set a deadline for getting things done, and it won’t be long until you have attained a 4 for your physical environment. Then decide the next life area which, if raised one point, will impact other areas, and tackle that area. You will find the process exhilarating, as you move forward rather than staying mired in place. It’s what the Japanese call “kai-zen” –taking tiny steps toward a goal and acknowledging those steps.

Balance is a habit. Remember when you learned to ride a bicycle, and you wobbled down the road? Soon, you learned to balance, and although it may now have been years since you were last on a bicycle, you can still steer a straight, steady path. So it is with life.

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