How to achieve work-life balance

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Spoiler alert: “Work – Life Balance” is a misnomer. As a mentor once told me, the so-called work-life balance isn’t about balance, it’s about juggling–just trying to keep as many balls in the air as possible. In 20 seconds, I came up with all these “balls” I’ve tried to juggle last year: physical fitness, healthy eating, adequate sleep (dropped that one completely), friends, dating/spouse, kids/family, community service, church service, mentoring, work projects, work meetings, professional networking events, conferences, blogging, reading all those books people keep telling me to read…

You get the picture. Too much! There is too much stuff happening! How can a life bulging with so much stuff ever be in balance? In 2016, I learned first-hand that “balance” is NOT achieved by spreading out time among many, many things. Nuh-uh. That becomes chaotic and unfulfilling. I didn’t achieve any fitness goals, none of the three companies I was starting got off the ground, and I wasn’t at the service committee meetings enough to know what was going on, to name just a few of the ways that my attempt at a balanced life in 2016 failed. I was living fast and furious, sure. More like I was getting nowhere and totally exhausted. Not until October did I make a change that forever shifted my perspective on how to really live a balanced life. It was a crazy idea, but it worked for me. Maybe, just maybe, it will work for you, too.

FOCUS. That’s right, instead of seeking balance by adding stuff to my life, I decided to seek it through simplifying and focusing instead. Here’s the simple formula I followed to determine how I should spend my time and energy:

1 way to earn
1 way to learn
1 way to serve

1 Way to Earn. Instead of working a full-time job and trying to start three companies, I focused on building my career where I was at, becoming more of an expert and building a clientele for a very particular part of my job (private equity, in case you’re wondering).

1 Way to Learn
. I’m a project person, absolutely obsessed with understanding the why, how, and whatever of everything. But 100 partially-begun projects on my desk and around my house meant that there wasn’t a single completed project. So, I stopped blogging to focus on learning how to publish a book. (THIS book) Without the focus of the ending months of 2016, that project would still be sucking brain power without making progress. My focus is what brought that to fruition.

1 Way to Serve
. Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not saying you should reject service opportunities that fall outside of your designated method. I’m not talking about random acts of service that take almost no time or effort. I mean the commitment to teach classes in the community rec center every week, AND serve on the boards of local charities, AND tutoring, AND helping people find jobs, AND…. When it’s all added up, service became a full-time job for me, and I already had a full-time job! Being spread too thin took the joy out of serving. By focusing, instead, on the one way I felt I could really contribute on a regular basis, that opportunity to serve became a joyful experience. It became more meaningful. I built those relationships, and felt like I made an impact.

But this is just from my experience in 2016. What suggestions do y’all have for living a more balanced life in 2017?

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