“Balance. The Ultimate Goal”
Life Balance. For each of us, what we consider to be a ‘balanced’ life may be vastly different; finding that all-important balance is a matter of personal choice, it’s about understanding what’s important to us as individuals and learning to identify which areas of our lives require more attention. The majority of us struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance; the fast pace, stress and pressures of our hectic work lives, combined with family responsibilities and social pressures, mean that we end up with very little time for ourselves. When our work and personal lives are not balanced our stress levels are significantly raised; I often hear people say that they would like to be healthier or reduce the stress that’s building up in their lives, but that they struggle to find the time. Just remember, you are the most important person in your life, and it is therefore essential that you make time for yourself. Not having enough time is a poor excuse; it is often the smallest changes which can make the biggest difference, we simply need to evaluate what is important to us as individuals and try to eliminate the things in our lives which take up unnecessary time or add unnecessary pressure. I too am guilty of not doing so; there was a long period of my life when I placed importance on things which added no real value, and it wasn’t until much later that I realised this was the cause of my stress, anxiety and unhappiness. Eventually, over time, I began to make small changes which would ultimately change the course of my life forever, creating a happier and healthier balance. That journey is far from over, I’m still challenged by these ideas, I am still learning and I am not yet ‘balanced,’ but I am on the path to a more fulfilled and purposeful life, and for that I am thankful.
Finding the balance in life isn’t all about exercising and getting fit, it’s about making the time to take care of number one. Family and friends are important and we need to make time for them too; spend quality time with them, eat together and play games or spend time outdoors. We should also try to minimise the time we spend doing things that are not essential or beneficial to our lives or which add little value. That’s not to say we should stop having fun, everyone needs to let their hair down; even I can admit that sometimes unwinding with friends over a bottle of wine makes the world of difference to my week. I’ve learnt not to be too hard on myself, because at the end of the day it’s all about balance and that means enjoying a little bit of everything (yes, even the occasional chocolate). A well-balanced person is more productive, attentive, focussed and mentally aware; they are able to spend more time and energy on attaining their goals and moving forward in a meaningful way. There are no hard and fast rules, we just need to learn to take care of the important things first, and not worry too much about things we cannot change. As they say, don’t sweat the small stuff.
Make a choice to make a change. The extra hour I used to spend up at night became the hour I spend running every morning, because that is the choice I made. The chocolate bar after dinner has been replaced by fruit. The bus ride has been replaced by a short cycle; which works out to take roughly the same length of time (door-to-door). These are small changes, but the effect that they have on the rest of my life have been inimitable. My productivity during the day has increased, allowing me to work fewer hours and get more done. I am calmer, more focussed, more driven and more relaxed. The beginning is often the hardest part and we quit because we expect things to change overnight. Take running for example; I used to absolutely detest running, it seemed like the most unfathomable idea on earth that anyone could possibly enjoy doing something so monotonous. Now I love it, I love being able to push myself further than I’ve been before; I still have days where it’s difficult, but they are fewer and further apart. The trick with all of this is to stick with it; we all fall off the path occasionally, we just have to find the motivation to get back up and try again. If running is your thing, find someone to run with or join a running club. If you enjoy the warm confines of the gym but can’t afford a personal trainer, then perhaps all you need is a training partner. If you like to train alone then you might simply need some inspiration to help keep you motivated, so do your research and find what works you. As I said, YOU are the most important person in your life, you deserve to be happy, and only you can make the changes required to bring balance to your life. Trust yourself, and whatever happens, don’t quit, because one day you will be better than you ever thought you could be.
“Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”
– Jack Canfield