10 Ways to Create Life Balance

10 Ways to Create Life Balance

Life balance is my jam! I realized that all over again this week when I got to be part of a panel on "life balance" for a college Leadership class. It was such a joy to share how we've created some semblance of balance in our home, family, careers, life, and I realized I haven't shared that here on my own blog.

Meanwhile, my home's a bit of a mess while I've focused on some work projects, ran errands, and had a kid home from school with a cough. And that's the main reason I haven't yet written about life balance. There are too many times I don't feel like I have it.

And I certainly don't have the world-wide keys to unlock life balance for everyone. In short: I don't have The Answers. I have found some ways that work for my life that help create the balance I need and the balance that keeps our family and home and life running, even, maybe especially, on chaotic days like today.

That's what I loved about being on the panel--I was simply answering questions sharing what works for me. Those of us on the panel answered questions about figuring out what's most important to us, deciding what to say "no" to when we're too busy, destressing during the week, making time for hobbies and interests, and dealing with daily life when going through personal trauma.

So, I'm going to share some of my responses here, just in case any of this might unlock some piece of life balance for you, too. These are the practices of life balance that I return to over and over in my life. Over time much of it has become my autopilot and is what I attribute any balance I've found.

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1. Decide your top 3.

I got this habit from DayDesigner. Each of their planner pages have a place to write your top 3 tasks/priorities to stay focused on what's really important for that day. This works for looking at the week, the season, or even your life. Balance isn't about always getting everything done and doing everything in equal proportions. Life balance is about making sure your limited time and energy goes to what really matters. Focusing on your top 3 can help make that happen.

If you complete only 3 things today, which will make the day feel successful? What about for this week? This season? The year? Your life? This can help simplify a too-long to-do list, give a starting point, and build motivation to continue progress beyond these three things. Then you're free to stop trying to do it all, and can rest in peace knowing you've done what matters.

2. Do the next right thing.

I first read about this years ago, but have since heard it a lot. The idea is that you don't climb a mountain, write a book, find life balance all at once. You start with the first literal step, the first writing session, the task right in front of you that will help balance out your life.

What is your next right thing in this moment? Often when I'm asking myself this question, my next right thing is some monotonous chore like washing the dishes or folding the laundry. Clearing up the obvious clutter and checking off a quick task is usually just the starting point I need to tackle the rest of my list or be able to relax in peace--both can contribute to my overall life balance.

3. Choose your support group.

There's a saying floating around attributed to businessman Jim Rohn that "You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with." Your lifestyle and your ability to live the life you want is largely dependent on the people you choose to spend your time with. We can encourage or discourage those around us, and we can choose to be around people that generally do one or the other. Adult friendships are hard even without thinking of the life value we get from our friends, but one way to be proactive about this is with something called a "mastermind" group.

Who are your 5 closest friends? Are there people you could invite into your circle to encourage each other in life? A mastermind group is a small group, around 3-5 people, that meet regularly to talk about goals, share what they're learning, and hold each other accountability. The mastermind group I am part of began to talk about blogging and our creative online work. We have met biweekly and monthly, depending on what we all have going on. And while we largely talk about work-related goals, we also spend time sharing what we're learning, how we're using our gifts and staying inspired, and about life balance. A mastermind group can meet for working out or health, work, life balance, or any number of topics. Point is, find friends that encourage rather the discourage the life you want to live.

4. Know yourself and live into that.

A question that was rephrased a couple different ways in the life balance panel was how to find out what's really important to you and make that happen. For me, this journey started more so after finishing college and starting a family. I had done various personality type-tests in the past, but didn't start making use of the information until later. Now instead of learning something about myself--what makes me tick and such--and just brushing it off, I use it to make sense of my life direction. Who I am and what I value has been a part of my life basically since my birth. I grow and develop, but for the most part I'm just discovering more of who I already am. As I discover all of who God made me to be, I discover a little more of His purpose and calling in my life and for my family. So knowing myself and making choices that help me live into that has been huge and helping me feel satisfied and balanced in my life choices.

What is your personality? What are your strengths? What interested you as a kid, and what interests you now? What makes you feel alive? This is the foundation for so many choices you will make throughout your life. Consider taking a self discovery test like StrengthsFinder, the Enneagram, Myers Briggs, and others. This information can help you know yourself better, including how to take care of yourself, what type of goals to set or career to pursue, and even what gifts you have that can serve others more naturally. This sort of personal growth uncovers who God made you to be leading to a life balance specific to all of your strengths and weaknesses.

5. Say your best yes, and even some hard nos.

Two of the best books I've read so far on this topic are: Essentialism and The Best Yes. Both offer really practical ways to be sure you're focusing your time and energy on what really matters for you, ultimately leading to life balance. One of my big takeaways is considering how enthusiastic I am when I say "yes" to something. Is it forced, filled with guilt or obligation, or something I'm vaguely interested in? If so, then I'm going to fizzle out or hate it right from the start. But if my yes is a "heck, yes!" then there's likely some value to the opportunity that will keep me motivated even when life gets difficult.

Is your answer a "heck, yes"? If not, maybe a no would be a better response. Even if there's something you want to say yes to, there might be something more important that needs to take your time and energy for this season. I've had to say some nos to things I actually wanted to do, just because it wasn't the right season for it. Only you can know what's the best yes for you and your family and the life balance you're aiming for.

6. Make choices based on what's most important to you.

This is going back a little bit to that "know yourself" thing. But even more than that, know what you value. In the life balance panel, my answers kept returning to the fact that we value faith and family and make most of our decisions prioritizing those two things. That can look different for different people. For our family that meant me being a stay-at-home-mom for the last 9+ years. The truth is we actually can't "afford" for me to stay home with our kids all day. We just valued that aspect of providing for our family enough that we were able to make other sacrifices in order to make it happen. This isn't about making the "right" choices--I don't believe there usually is such a thing. I do believe there is such a thing as making your right choices. The choices only you can make for your family. Prioritizing family can mean a lot of different things to different people--know what your values mean for the choices you make.

What do you value? What's most important to you in life? Big picture: What are your top priorities, and what helps you meet those needs? Know what's most important to you and make choices based on those priorities. We all make sacrifices, so we have to choose the ones that help us live into the life we want.

7. Make a plan, and write it down.

I go a little overboard on this, just because writing things down is a big part of who I am. But you don't have to have extensive planning sessions or keep journals of notes. In fact, unless you have an inner need to: Don't. Keep it simple, and just jot down some quick answers to the questions in this post. Or list some of the things you hope to do in the next few years. There is value to just writing down simple things like who you are, what you value, what you want to do in life. You don't even necessarily have to post this anywhere. The act of writing it means you're putting those goals and priorities into your brain space, giving you a direction to head. A purpose and a calling of sorts, helping you live the balanced life you dream of.

What does your dream balanced life look like? Given your strengths and values and place in life... jot down some of the details a balanced life might look like for you. From this list you can choose your top 3 to focus on or you can choose your next right step. Or you can lose the list and forget about it, and that dream/plan will still be there in your head and heart guiding you toward the balance you're capable of. If you want to explore more extensive goal/life planning, I love PowerSheets for that.

8. Know what season you're in.

This needs to be said, because life balance looks different throughout seasons of life. Some seasons are full of energy and motivation and life balance will include a lot of getting stuff done. Some seasons are about travel or family or taking a break after a busy season. And some seasons are about just plain ol' survival if you're dealing with a major life change (move, child, career change), a personal trauma, or an illness. There are seasons when getting out of bed is a victory worth celebrating, so don't discredit the accomplishment in the "little" things.

What season are you in? Is this a season of dealing with change or slowing down to savor or hustling to get things done? What season are you in emotionally--thriving and blooming, or planting and waiting to see if anything will come up from the dirt? Knowing the season you're in can help you give yourself grace to let go of what you're not able to complete now, or at least perspective to know that highs or lows come and go, and that really is the broad swing in the balance of life.

9. Take a break.

Shut it down. The notifications, the technology, your brain. Reset. Be in nature. Take a nap. Make time for a hobby or a creative pursuit. Learn one if you don't have one. Turn on music, go for a walk, visit with a friend. This is important to do a little bit each day, and for the 24-hour Sabbath each week. It's essential for our health, and can even help us come back to our work and our stresses with a fresh perspective and new creativity.

How do you destress? How often do you unplug, and when can you make that happen each day and each week? Consider making a list of the ways you enjoy taking a break. Those things mentioned above that help you feel alive--do more of those to help balance out the adult obligations of life. Fill your life with more living.

10. Prioritize balance for your life.

The real way I find a balanced life is by prioritizing balance. Feeling balanced matters to me. I know my threshold for stress and I know which habits will lead me to feel unbalanced. Simplifying is also deeply important to me--it's at the core of who I am, so that becomes my inner compass to make choices that enrich the lives we want rather than the lives we see others living.

Do you prioritize balance in your life? If not, what is more important to you? If so, which areas in particular do you aim to keep balanced? Live into the balance you envision for your life, not the balance you think you "should" be aiming for.

A balanced life is possible--when we stop chasing someone else's version of balance and instead pursue our own. Take whatever of these life balance practices that work for you, and leave the rest guilt-free. Guilt only hinders your life balance.

Life balance is full of grace and finding your own groove for your life.


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also see:
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the goals that brought me back to life
slow and steady self-care over the long haul
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