It’s been months since I’ve sat down at a keyboard to write a blog post. Part of that was planned, okay really only the first couple of weeks, and the rest of the time is due to my desire for balance. Back in early February I wrote a post and then planned on a week to two week absence as my family and I traveled to Washington DC for my father-in-laws burial at Arlington National Cemetery. I figured that once I got back home we would get back into a routine and I would pick up writing. Well, as they say the best laid plans…..
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start working with a new client company right after we got home which changed the balance of my days. Between my commitment to the client and my dedication to helping my family settle in to a new routine I found it difficult to carve out time to write. As a result I made the decision to take a break for a while. My family needed me and my work was very demanding and rewarding. The next thing I knew 7+ months had passed.
In all honesty I’ve missed writing my blog and capturing my thoughts about leadership, personal development, time management and whatever else came to mind. However, I decided that I needed to spend my time differently for a while. It was very intentional on my part to step back from blogging, as well as actively participating in social media forums like Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. At the beginning of the year I spent a couple of hours a day in these activities and I made a choice to spend that time elsewhere. While I missed the interaction with my friends and colleagues I am glad I chose to focus on my family and my client.
Balance and Intention
I’ve learned several important lessons over these months about how to create a balance in my life that is fulfilling and rewarding. There will always be too many demands on my time and I have to pick and choose what I do, who I spend time with, and how I live my life. I found I could focus on what was important, what was urgent or what was interesting. Sadly it’s easy to just go with the flow, keep doing what I’ve been doing and let the outside world dictate our time. This leads to frustration, disappointment and regrets.
To find a balance that worked for me I had to keep in mind what was important to, what actions supported those things and I had to say no. I found the following actions critical to making this work for me:
- Be Clear on Priorities: When you know what is most important to you and where your priorities lay you can make choices that work best for you. These can, and will, shift over time so think about what’s important to you right now.
- Weigh Demands against Priorities: Check requests for your time and attention against your priorities. Are the demands aligned with what is most important right now?
- Do the Things that Matter Most: There will be things you want to do that just don’t align with your current priorities. Be intentional about what you do and how you spend your time.
- Say No Kindly: You will have to say no to people and requests so be kind and considerate to those making the requests. Remember the request is being driven by what’s important to someone else so be respectful of their request. You don’t have to say yes just because it’s important to them, just say No kindly.
- Never Apologize: Taking care of the things that matter to you is something you should never apologize for doing. Saying “Sorry I can’t help you” opens the door for others to negotiate or push you into helping. Instead say “I wish I could help you, unfortunately I can’t at this time”. This is respectful of their request while saying no.
When I stepped away from the keyboard back in February it was done to focus on my family and our healing. It was absolutely the right thing to do. When I started working with my client I wanted to give them my full attention so my days became focused on meeting a tight schedule and I decided to keep my evenings and weekends more open for my family and personal needs. This meant that my time on social media was cut down drastically as my priorities shifted. As I focused on the things that mattered most to me at the time I found I was happier than when I was stressed out over getting all the things done that I wanted to do.
To find balance in your life it’s important to be very intentional about your actions. What do you intend to accomplish, what are your priorities and shift your focus to the things that matter most. This applies across the spectrum of your day, from what you do at home and at work. When you are true to what matters most to you it will feel like your life is in balance even when you are crazy busy. That’s because you will be crazy busy with the important things.
To get started ask yourself these questions:
- What’s most important to me right now?
- Are the things I’m doing aligned with my priorities?
- Which things should I stop doing to free up time for the important stuff?
- How can I be more intentional in my actions?
Be intentional about your goals and your actions to find a better balance in your life.
How do you create balance? Please share your tips in the comments below.
Looking forward to seeing you around much more frequently!