When you’re focused mainly on one area of your life, it can be exhausting. We’ve been there. When we were writing Profit from the Positive, though our work was thriving, we noticed that both of us took hits in other areas of our lives. For Senia, it was her health. For Margaret, it was her social life.
We know that to live a truly happy and fulfilling life, we need to pay attention to the domains that make it up, including work (career and money), a social life (family, friends and fun) and health (physical and emotional).
The right balance can change your life
And we’re not alone. Professors Laura Nash, Ph.D., and Howard Stevenson, Ph.D., interviewed everyone from high-ranking executives to stay-at-home parents and found that the most successful people are those who do well at work, in their communities and at home. In the Harvard Business Review, Laura and Howard wrote that people with enduring success “have high achievement, multiple goals, the ability to experience pleasure, the ability to create positive relationships and a value on accomplishments that endure.” For these people—and us—success isn’t found by focusing on one area, whether it’s work, a social life or health. Rather, it happens when you have the right balance.
With that in mind, and to restore balance in our lives, we examined our health, work and social lives asking ourselves three questions, so we could identify which areas could use some improvement and then make conscious, intentional choices. This is something we do with our clients in our coaching sessions, and now, in 10 minutes, you can do it, too. Ask yourself:
1. On a scale of 0 to 10, how satisfied am I with my health, my social life and my work?
You don’t need a 10 in each category; the goal is for you to simply become aware of how the three areas interrelate. What do you notice? Think of this step like starting a new fitness routine. You don’t walk into the gym and jump on the first piece of exercise equipment you see. No, you assess your current fitness level and strengths first, and then you determine what areas you need to work on. It’s the same here. If you want to improve your life, you need a big-picture view first.
2. What would each area of my life look like if it were a perfect 10?
Explore the ideas that you may not have seriously considered before. Many of us live in a cycle of work, home and perhaps a little play. We don’t step back and dream of what we would love to do because we’re too caught up in the day-to-day. Laura King, Ph.D., a University of Missouri psychology professor, found that writing about what you hope to accomplish boosts positive feelings about the future, increases your belief in yourself and leads to self-fulfilling prophecies.
In our coaching, we ask our clients to either speak about or write down what they really hope to accomplish. Similarly, sports psychologists train athletes to visualize a successful match, game or play. So why not apply one or both of these methods to your own life?
3. What can I do to improve my scores and make my dreams a reality?
Connect your social life with your health by taking a class with friends or joining a hiking club. Have working lunches with colleagues or turn your next one-on-one meeting into a walk-and-talk. Start a wellbeing challenge in your office—how many miles can you walk as a team?
Once you have your plan in place, every three months or so share your scores, dreams and actions with a friend over a nice dinner. Make it fun, celebrate your small wins and keep each other honest. Remember, these questions give you a snapshot over time, so your scores will likely change. They did for us. After we went through this process, we both took actions toward creating better balance in our lives.
Making small steps to improve your balance
For Senia, this meant taking up eight-minute high-intensity workouts and exercising almost every morning. Margaret declared 2014 her year of socializing. She has already hosted two dinner parties and planned trips and events for the rest of the year.
This is really about stepping back and examining our lives so that we can start to see them clearly. We’ve realized our time is a finite resource; whereas our energy can expand and contract. So, when you keep your work, health and social life ignited at a balance that’s right for you, you can create swells of energy and live a happier, more fulfilling life.