Balance your work, family and social life
Balance your work, family and social life
By Gene Griessman, PhD
Many of us have an image of personal balance as a set of scales in perfect balance every day. But that’s an unrealistic goal. You will be very frustrated if you try to allocate a predetermined portion of time each day for work, family, and your social life. An illness can upset all your plans. A business project can require peaks of intense work, followed by valleys of slowness.
Balance requires continual adjustments, like an acrobat on a tightrope constantly shifting his weight to the right and left. By focusing on four main areas of your life – emotional / spiritual needs, relationships, intellectual needs, and physical needs – at work and outside of work, you can safely begin to walk the tightrope.
Here, drawn from my conversations with many highly successful Americans, are ten ideas for balancing all aspects of your life:
1. Make an appointment with yourself. Eliminate the idea that everyone takes precedence over you from your mind. Don’t use your organizer or calendar only for appointments with other people. Give yourself prime time. Do something that you enjoy regularly. It will recharge your batteries. Once it’s put on your calendar, save those appointments. Kay Koplovitz, founder of the US cable television network, which is on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Koplovitz led the network’s day-to-day operations for 21 years. For more than two decades, there was always some potential claim on his time. Therefore, he carefully guarded a scheduled tennis match as he would a business appointment.
2. Take care of your body. Having a high energy level is a trait that many highly successful people have. No matter what your current energy level is, you can increase it by following these steps:
Eat. Do not skip meals. Your physical and mental energy depends on nutrition. Irregular eating patterns can cause temper, depression, lack of creativity, and nervousness in the stomach.
Exercise. Over and over again, highly successful people mention the benefits of exercise routines. Johnetta Cole, president of Bennett College for Women and former president of Spelman College, takes a four-mile walk every morning. She calls it her mobile meditation. The benefits of exercise are mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. If you are healthier and have more stamina, you can work better and for longer.
Rest. A psychologist who has studied creative people reports that they rest frequently and sleep a lot.
3. Cut some slack. You don’t have to do everything. Just the right things. Editor Steve Forbes taught me a lesson: “Don’t be a slave to your inbox. Just because there’s something there doesn’t mean you have to.” As a result, every night, I pull out of my long to-do list just a few “to-dos” for the next day. Yes, except for three in the morning the next day, I have crossed out all the “essentials”, I know that everything I do that day will be the icing on the cake. It is a great psychological advantage for me.
There is nothing wrong with trying too hard, disciplining yourself to
do what you have to do when you stick to the highest standards. That builds stamina and makes you a pro. However, at some point you must forgive yourself. It will never become 100 percent efficient, nor should it expect to be. After something doesn’t work, ask yourself, “Did I do the best I could? If I did, accept the result. All you can do is all you can do.
4. Blurs the boundaries. Some very successful people strike a balance by setting aside moments or days for family, recreation, hobbies, or the like. They create boundaries around certain activities and protect them. Other people who are just as successful do the opposite. They blur the boundaries. Consultant Alan Weiss says, “I work outside the house. In the afternoon, I could be watching my kids play in the pool or hanging out with my wife. On Saturday, or at 10 o’clock one night of the week, I could be working. I do things when the spirit moves me and when they are appropriate. ”
Some jobs don’t lend themselves to this strategy. But blurring the boundaries is possible more often than you think. One way is to involve the people you care about in what you do. For example, many companies encourage employees to bring their spouses to conferences and annual meetings. It is a good idea. If the people who mean a lot to you understand what you do, they can more fully share your successes and failures. They are also more likely to be a good sounding board for your ideas.
5. Take a break. Many therapists believe that taking a break from the work routine can have significant benefits for physical and mental health. Professional speaker and executive coach Barbara Pagano practices a kind of fast-loading, scheduling a day every few months with no agenda. For her, that means staying in her pajamas, turning off the phone, watching an old movie, or reading a novel in bed. For that one day, nothing happens except what she decides hour after hour. Singer-songwriter Billy Joel adds: “There are times when you have to leave the field fallow.” Joel describes what farmers often do: let a plot rest so that the soil can be replenished.
6. Take the road less traveled. Every now and then, pull off the freeway and take a side street, literally and figuratively. That path can take you to the library or to the golf course. Do something out of the ordinary to avoid the worn ruts in your life. Try a new route to work, a different radio station, or a different cereal. Break your old mold every now and then with a new way of dressing or a different hobby. The road less traveled can be a reward after a demanding event, a carrot to reward yourself with, or it can be a good way to relax before a big event. Bobby Dodd, the legendary Georgia Tech soccer coach, knew the power of this concept. While other coaches subjected their teams to brutal practices twice a day, Dodd’s team did their drills and practices, but then took time to relax, play football, and enjoy the bowl sites. Did the idea work? In six consecutive championship games!
7. Stay still. Susan Taylor, Essence’s managing editor, makes sure you have quiet time every morning. She regards it as a time to focus, to be still, and to listen. He carries a paper and a pen to write down the ideas that come to him. How you use solitary time should match your values, beliefs, and temperament. Some people spend regular time each day visualizing themselves achieving their goals and dreams. Others read, pray, meditate, do yoga, or simply watch a sunrise or sunset. Whatever form it takes, time spent alone can pay off enormously. Achievers talk about an inner strength they find and how it helps them put competing demands in perspective. They feel more secure in their choices and more self-reliant. They discover a sense of balance, a centrality.
8. Be a patriot in times of peace. Joe Posner has achieved wealth and recognition selling life insurance. Several years ago, Posner helped form an organization in his hometown of Rochester, New York, to prepare underprivileged children for school and life and, hopefully, break the cycle of poverty. You can find an equally valuable way to give something back through your church, hospital, civic club, alumni association, or by doing some pro bono work. Or you can help people privately, even anonymously. There are powerful rewards for balancing personal interests with the needs of the common good. One of the most wonderful is the sheer joy that comes from giving. Another reward is the better world you help create.
9. Do what you love to do. As a child, Aaron Copeland spent hours listening to his sister practice the piano because she loved music. Following that love, he became America’s most famous classical wort composer. When I asked him years later if he had even been disappointed by that choice, Copeland replied, “My life has been lovely.” What a word to sum up a life. By itself, loving what you do does not ensure success. You need to be good at what you love. But if you love what you do, the time you spend becoming proficient is less likely to weigh on you.
10. Focus on strategy. As important as it is, how to save time to balance your life is not the fundamental question. That question is: “What am I saving time for?” Strategy is about success, but what about success? If others pay your salary, being strategic generally means convincing them that you are spending their time in a way that benefits them. If there is a dispute about how you should use your time, convince people who can reward or punish you that your idea of time use is appropriate, or find another job. The “for what?” You should also ask a question about the life you live. It is truly a comprehensive question and addresses the question of integrity.
So what contributes to a successful balanced life? I can’t think of a better definition than the one given by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Laugh often and a lot; earn the respect of smart people and the affection of children; win the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; appreciate beauty, find the best in others; leaving the world a little better, be it for a healthy child, a garden or a redeemed social condition; to know that even a life has breathed better because I have lived. This is to have been successful.