Living in Balance

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It's estimated that four out of five workers will at some stage need to take time off due to stress. Lynn Murphy, founder and director of Keeping in Touch Ltd, maps out her six-stage plan to achieving a better work-life balance.

Do you regularly spend your weekends relaxing and re-energising (rather than just recovering)?
Do you spend your time doing the things that you want to do?
Do you feel in control of your time (your life)?
Can you look back over last year with a sense of achievement and satisfaction?

If you’re not saying yes to all these questions, then maybe you’re due some time out to think about you, what you want and how you're going to achieve it.

Re-dressing the Balance
There is no absolute definition of ‘life balance’, but in an increasingly busy world with an ever-increasing number of choices, a sense of balance seems to come from being and doing on the outside what is important on the inside.

This means aligning time, energy and other resources in a way that matches your inner dreams, goals and priorities - the things you now want to say yes to in your life.

Six Steps to a More Balanced Life
Step 1
Daydream to visualise and think about what you want to be, do and have in your life.
i) Start asking yourself questions such as - What do I want to look back on in my life? If I won the lottery I would … What sort of legacy do I want to leave in the world? In my ideal world I would … What needs to have happened for me to feel and say ‘that’s been an excellent day/ week/ month/ year/ life’?
ii) Capture your thoughts in a colourful picture and revisit it often.
iii) Make the dream strong and vivid enough to keep in the forefront of your mind as you make day-to-day decisions.
iv) ‘Dream’ on a regular basis.
v) You might want to ‘dream’ with others important to you.

Step 2
Review where you are now in your life against where you want to be in your vision.
Think about:
i) What is important to you in your life and your values (eg freedom, honesty, love, abundance, harmony, duty, achievement, security). Are your personal satisfaction criteria and life needs to be built around them?
ii) What activities do you really enjoy and want to keep and what are you happy to leave behind?
iii) What do you want to do more of and what do you want to do less of?
iv) What might hold you back from achieving the life you want and how can you work to overcome this?

Step 3
Plan how to achieve your vision by dividing and balancing your time and focus across different aspects/roles of your life.
Tips:
i) A ‘role’ is a part of your life in which you invest time and emotions and from which you want a sense of satisfaction (eg partner, parent, family, son/daughter, health and fitness, hobbies, career, homemaker, traveller, friend, writer, volunteer etc)
ii) Decide what six to eight roles you want to put energy into over the next six-to-12 months? (Recognising that these may change over time)
iii) Include a role that is concerned with looking after your own personal needs and development – this will enable you to ‘give’ in other parts of your life.

Step 4
Visualise what needs to happen for you to feel satisfied with each role and plan actions to achieve these outcomes.
Tips:
i) What do you need to have achieved in each role for you to be able to look back and say ‘it’s been a good six-to-12 months’?
ii) How you can fulfil each role in a way that’s consistent with your values?
iii) Taking the overview of what you want in all your roles, look at what are your 'must-dos' and separate these from your 'like-to-do-if-there’s-times'.
iv) Check that the achievements you’ve identified for each individual role will add up to what you want in all of your life.

Step 5
Schedule your priority actions into your monthly, weekly and daily plans.
Tips:
i) Break each goal down into an action plan - what do you need to do each month, each week and each day to ensure you’re living the life you want in all your roles?
ii) Spread your actions across the year and avoid times when you know you’ll be particularly busy.
iii) Plan in regular weekly time to think about and plan the following week.
iv) Review and reprioritise regularly.

Step 6
Get on and enjoy your fulfilling balanced life!

* Keeping in Touch Ltd provides workshops, coaching and other support designed to help people be effective, successful and fulfilled in their professional and personal lives. Lynn Murphy can be contacted at [email protected] .

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