The problem with the idea of work-life balance is that it tries to compartmentalize life.
We don’t have a work self and a life self - it’s one self; what happens to one happens to and affects the other.
If work is a mess and you're not managing stress well, it’s likely to spill over into other areas of your life.
And if you're not eating well or getting enough sleep, your work is likely to suffer.
A way that's been beneficial is to look at how you’re doing in different domains of health.
Precision Nutrition has an awesome model for this - they call it ‘Deep Health.’
The idea is that if we’re neglecting any one of these areas, our health as a whole is likely to suffer.
Considering our performance in these different areas can help us consider why we’re feeling off-balance in the first place.
There’s this myth out there that you have to grind it out to have a successful and meaningful life.
And embedded in that myth is another myth - that you don’t have time to take care of yourself.
Can I share with you a list of reasons I’ve had for why this won’t work in my life?
At the end of the day, those were all just excuses to justify the feelings I was having inside: uncertainty, anxiety, exhaustion, fear, disbelief.
Why do I know they were excuses? Because when I committed to making the change things got better - the reasons weren’t valid anymore.
Does that mean I’m perfect with any of it?
But do I feel better and more in control and more hopeful when I’m taking care of myself in these different areas?
Let's look at a couple of principles that can help you take better care of yourself in each of those different domains
Decisions vs reactions
When you take the time to be intentional about what you're doing with your time, you make better decisions.
That means you need time to think and time to plan.
And it doesn’t have to be much - even 15-20 minutes to consider the most important things to get done tomorrow and planning those out makes a big difference,
That doesn’t mean tomorrow works out perfectly, but because you have a direction, you can evaluate your choices against that direction, rather than reacting to everything in real-time.
A mentor said to me once, “It’s not that what you’re doing is wrong, it’s that it’s in the wrong order.”
That is, I wasn’t prioritizing things in a way that set me up for daily success.
I know that when I sleep well and exercise, everything else goes better.
So getting to bed on time sets me up well for the next day.
Exercising first thing helps me wake up and get out of the negative thought spiral that often shows up first thing in the morning.
So those things are a priority - they get planned in before the other things in the day because they matter so much for all the other things in my day.
Trying to fit in time for mental health, social activity, exercise, etc. can seem really daunting.
But are there ways that you can be creative in fitting those things in?
On my way to work I usually listen to audiobooks. I’m already taking the time to drive, but I can get also get in some intellectual stimulation too.
Last night I took the paddle board out to the middle of a pond near where I live, and then I read — physical + mental.
And then when a storm blew and I had to jump out, I got a chance to talk with strangers while I helped them carry their kayaks back — social
There’s a ton of ways to mix and match domains.
Experiment and find out what works for your situation.
As a result of that you take less stress home. You're then more present and more attentive to the needs of your family. You put more positive deposits in your relational accounts and make fewer withdrawals.
The momentum built upon itself throughout the day, leading to a day lived in closer alignment with your values.
Understandably, the example was built in a perfect world, and life isn’t that.
It rarely goes according to plan.
You woke up sick. The car wouldn’t start. The meeting went over. Family emergency. You say something unkind. Someone says something unkind to you. You need a new refrigerator.
There will always be something. And some thing will always fill your time.
The argument could be made though, that even though things won’t always go as you want or expect, you’ll still be better served by making your health a priority.
The better your health, the greater the capacity (e.g., physical & emotional resources) you'll have to devote to the problem at hand.
If you don’t choose to take time to be well, you will be forced to take time to be ill.
And remember that it’s not about perfection – it’s about consistently trying.
Consistently taking action to live more in alignment with who you want to be.