Between your work, your social life, and making time for yourself, finding ways to live a balanced life can be really, really difficult. If your life is anything like mine, every day it feels like it's a constant pattern of: Wake up, get on the grind, go to sleep. If you're lucky, maybe you have time for drinks with a friend or a workout class, but prioritizing your happiness over the things you feel like you "have" to do tends to feel unjustifiable. The truth is, though, that they are just as important as your work — hence the (heavily overused, but still applicable) term "work/life balance."
In a phone interview, researcher Nate Lambert, founder of Happiness Reports, told me that our lives can be divided into six distinct categories: social, mental, physical, spiritual, financial, and recreational. In order to be truly balanced, it's important to dedicate equal time and energy to each of these things. True, there are certain times in your life when you have to emphasize one category (like if you’re training for a marathon or saving up to buy a house), but you need to make sure you aren’t sacrificing the other areas. Here are seven ways to have a more balanced life.
1. Set Periodic Goals
Saying, “I want to achieve this huge thing this year” is fantastic, but can be intimidating. Set smaller goals— daily, weekly and monthly— to make it feel more attainable. Give yourself a mental “To Do” list every morning, and actually write one down each week detailing everything you need to accomplish. “Ask yourself ‘what do I need to do today to achieve my weekly, monthly and yearly goals,” says Lambert.
2. Keep A Journal
This is a way to organize your thoughts and track your progress, says Lambert. Set aside some time every day to make note of how you did in terms of meeting your goals, and at the end of each week analyze these entries and figure out what you’re doing right and what you could do better.
3. Be Grateful
Every morning when you wake up, think about one thing you’re grateful for. It will start your day off with positive thinking, and set the tone for everything that comes after it. Lambert advises keeping a gratitude journal next to your bed, and making a running list of all of the fantastic things you have in your life to be happy about.
Exercise can have very powerful emotional, mental and spiritual effects as well. Starting your day with a workout, even if it’s a quick run around the block or a few yoga poses on your living room floor, will make you feel like you’ve already achieved something before you’ve even left for work, according to Lambert.
5. Do Something Creative
As a writer, this is the most important for me. Channeling your creative energy into something outside of your day job, even if it’s just once a week, is important for helping you feel fulfilled in a more rounded way. Set aside a little time to do something you enjoy, and that is mentally stimulating. If you don’t have an outlet to do this, take it as an opportunity to learn a new skill— buy a guitar or a paintbrush or something else you’ve always wanted to try — and go nuts!
6. Read Things That Will Keep You Inspired
Sign up for Quote of the Day to get little nuggets of wisdom to keep you motivated. Lambert also suggests books with positive messages, like Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to put your mind in the right place.
Life often seems hectic, but if you make balance a priority, you may be surprised how soon things start to seem a little more under control.
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