So, I would be willing to bet that, when your alarm rang this morning, you jumped right out of bed, ready and excited to start your day! Maybe you can’t even contain your enthusiasm for what is on your agenda…………….what? Did you really put your alarm on snooze and start your day with the negative thought that you just don’t even want to get out of bed? Has your daily routine become more like work than even your job? Do you feel stretched in a million different directions and feel like there is not enough of you to go around?
If any of these things are true, then I can pretty accurately guess that you have a life that is out of balance. You have run out of “fuel” and your “tank” is registering on empty. How in the world did you get in this predicament? More importantly, how do you get out?
You might not even realize that your life is out of balance. Perhaps you have a new child, a new job, a new life partner, new responsibilities, a new illness or life crisis. Perhaps you had been in balance and then one more little thing was added to the mix, and now you are stuck. You can’t find fuel in your empty tank.
Perhaps it is time to take a step back, and do a real assessment of your life, and see, first-hand, the areas that need attention.
I am going to ask you to take out a paper and pencil and do a quick assessment of several areas of your life. Rate each area on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “completely dissatisfied”, to 10, “completely satisfied”. Here are some areas to consider:
How happy are you with the way you are currently living your life? Are you happy with your living arrangements? Are you becoming tense when you watch the news on television? Are you listening to gossip? Are you watching positive television shows and movies? Do you practice gratitude? Do you look for the good, or always first see the negative?
- Significant Relationship
Do you have a significant other in your life? If so, how is the quality of that relationship?Do you schedule time together? Do you communicate well? Are there areas for improvement? Are you physically intimate?
Do you have a few really good friends that you can count on for support when you need it? Do you have people that you can do social activities with? What kind of a friend are you to others? Are there people that you really need to get out of your life? Is social media a positive environment for you? Are there people that you need to “unfollow”? What are you doing to meet new people?
What do your family relationships look like? Do you spend time with your family and extended family? Is it quality time? What do your holidays look like?
Do you believe in a higher power? Are you a member of a church, synagogue, mosque? Are you seeking to grow in this area by reading, attending lectures, etc.?
- Career/Income/Professional Development
Is your career meaningful to you? Is there another type of job that would be more rewarding to you? Do you look forward to going to work? Is your income significant enough to meet your obligations and provide a cushion for fun? What are you doing to grow professionally?
- Health and Wellness
Are you free of significant health problems? What are you currently doing to manage any health issues that you may have? Are you happy with your weight and level of fitness? How much sleep do you get on an average night? Are you at risk for any health issues, and if so, what are you doing to be proactive with regard to management?
Are you scheduling any “me” time? What are you doing to take care of yourself? Are you involved in sports? Do you meditate? Do you put yourself on your “to-do” calendar? Do you read or have other hobbies that you routinely schedule? Do you smile on purpose? When was the last time you laughed? Do you meditate? Do you pray? Do you journal? When was the last time that you planned a trip? How much sleep do you get on an average night? Do you try to present yourself well every day?
- Service/Giving Back
Do you offer yourself as a volunteer in your community? Do you mentor anyone? Are you an advocate for someone?
You might need to add categories to fit your individual life goals. When you are done assigning a number value to each of these areas, it should become apparent where you need to focus your immediate attention to bring balance back into your life, so that you are “refilling your tank”. Any area that is not rated as a 10 is in need of work. Anything rated below a 5 needs immediate work.
I can already hear you saying that you do not have time for one more thing. So, sacrifice something that is not necessary. Learn to say “no”, and not feel the need to explain. You are a priority. You cannot possibly show up for others, if you do not first show up for yourself. If you are running on empty, you will begin to resent the things that you feel are holding you back. Schedule time on your calendar to work on these areas.
Here are some short-term ideas that may help, as you begin this process:
- Consider your words: Clean up your self-talk. Take a breath before responding to others. Reframe things as positive whenever possible. Use words that encourage happiness. Don’t make “mountains out of molehills”. Overthinking is never productive.
- Can you hire a sitter to free up time for a few hours a week? Can you trade play dates with another family?
- Schedule a weekly date night with your significant other. You really cannot afford to ignore time together.
- Take your children to the park, or to activities where you will meet other parents with whom you may have common interests.
- Practice smiling. Fake it until you make it. You will find that smiling lifts everyone’s spirit, and in turn, you will find yourself smiling more because it just feels better.
- Take every opportunity to laugh….especially at yourself. Don’t take everything so seriously.
- Turn off the TV and go to bed an hour earlier. Your body and your mind cannot repair and refresh without adequate rest.
- Be mindful of what you are eating. Try for more whole foods and less processed foods and added sugars. Are you making sure that you are well-hydrated? Your brain and body need the right fuels in order to function at the optimum level.
- Do you need to move closer to work to avoid a long commute?
- Have you made a list of goals that you would like to accomplish? Devote time each day to moving closer to these goals.
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Make a “what if jar”-when you see things you would like to do, or places nearby that you would like to visit, write them down on a piece of paper and add them to your jar. When you find yourself needing a break, choose one of these papers from the jar and do that activity, or visit that place.
- Before you go to sleep, think about all of the things that went well during your day. End the day on a positive note.
- Try doing random acts of kindness. It is good for you, and will surprise and delight others.
- Give genuine compliments.
- Really listen when someone is talking to you.
- Is there someone that you need to reach out to? Are there things that need to be said? Are there apologies that need to be made.
- Take the time to say some positive affirmations to yourself every morning.
- Clear out the clutter from your home. Give unused items to those who can and will use them.
- Devote time each day to do a little reading or other hobby.
- Take a class.Try something new. Join a Meet-up group. Get out of the house. Take up a new sport or hobby.
- Let go of painful relationships.
- Turn off the television. Listen to calming music as you work.
- Sing in the shower!
- Tell your significant other what it is that you appreciate about them.
- Light up when your children or significant other come into the room.
- Schedule a dental appointment or routine physical. Get your blood work and medical testing done.
- Visit someone who is home or hospital bound.
- Get a gym membership and use it. Endorphins are wonderful things!
- Practice kindness when you are driving.
- Schedule a hair or nail appointment, a massage or a facial. You deserve it!
- Plan a trip or a staycation.
- Seek out volunteer opportunities in your community in areas of interest to you. Paying it forward is so rewarding.
If you can identify areas of your life that are out of balance, take small sacred steps toward improvement. You might not be able to tackle everything at once, but forward movement is still forward movement.
Still feeling stuck? Consider the help of a therapist, a medical doctor, a life coach or a mentor. You are your primary focus. Every step you take toward getting yourself back in balance will help to make your life more enjoyable and more productive. You owe it to yourself!