Life balance has been on my mind for about 14 years (around the time I got married). It became more prominent when I had children, and even more prominent when I started my own business (while having a wife, kids, and job, not to mention my 1,001 interests and ambitions).
I've had many struggles, and many successes, and it's important that we approach it in the right way to make sure we don't put ourselves under pressure or experience unnecessary guilt.
I'm actually working on creating an online course about this topic, but I'll share a few thoughts here, which I hope will benefit some readers:
- I definitely agree with Basile regarding the phrase itself: it seems to pit work against life, which is why I prefer the term "life balance", where work is one of several areas/dimensions of our lives
- I think of life balance in terms of seven life areas: Spiritual, Intellectual, Psychological, Social, Professional (Work), Recreational, Physical
- Each life area has its own needs for us to function properly, and not all of them have the same time/attention requirements. Balance isn't balance of time, but not compromising other human needs because of an unhealthy fixation on one life area
- The seven life areas span our human needs, but YOU define what success looks like for you in each of the seven life areas. Maybe your spirituality is secular, you enjoy extreme sports, and you just want to maintain your health rather than am for an athlete's body
- Your interests will change and what you're capable of giving time/attention to will change. What matters is that you don't neglect any life area, otherwise it will come back to bite you one day. In most cases prevention is better than cure. Don't allow any life area to go out of control to the point that it becomes very hard to recover
- Your goals in each life area should excite you, either directly or indirectly. Directly = achieving the goal is a reward on its own. Indirectly = achieving the goal is a stepping stone towards achieving another goal. I don't know of many people who get excited about drinking more water, but the sense that you're taking better care of yourself, feeling more energetic, being more productive, reaching your fitness goal might be the things that excite you
- Progress over perfection. Don't allow your circumstances to make you abandon your goals and sense of balance entirely. Making a small effort is better than no effort. Wall push-ups are better than forgetting you have a body because you're too fixated on your work
- Imagine your ideal life and success in each area of your life. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Find changes - big and small - you can make in your life to ease into the life you want. You'll discover you've put a lot of unnecessary conditions on yourself about doing what you love when there are no conditions that stop you from pursuing what you want right now. You don't have to be a millionaire to enjoy the little things or to help others
- You'll be surprised how much time and energy you can free up by not spending so much time on social media or worrying about what others do or say. Life balance and productivity rely heavily on freeing your mind from negative and distracting thoughts
- It's important to be ambitious AND to enjoy the journey. Stress is important in life. Too little and we'll be bored out of our minds. Too much and we burn out
Take care of yourself and pursue the life you want.