Self-awareness means living meaningfully instead of frantically. I was coaching a highly driven, successful leader recently who told me she had a very full schedule and felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of activity in her life. She felt empty and exhausted at the end of the day and wondered why she wasn't happier even thought she worked so hard. After describing her situation for a while, she confided that she had been juggling so many different tasks that she was unable to take the time to look at her life meaningfully or even begin to understand what balance means.
It's easy to get sucked into living a fast-paced life and forgetting to enjoy the journey. The key to living a happy life is to have the self-awareness to evaluate what you're currently doing and introduce some new ideas to become more balanced. Let's look at how reflecting, prioritizing, and relaxing can help you create balance between your professional and personal life.
It's important to reflect on what you're doing so you can identify what really matters to you in life. When you reflect consciously you can make adjustments that will help you feel better. It's up to you to decide what you want to focus on in life. Do you want to work fifteen hours a day at the office or spend more time with your significant other? Will you regret taking on anther work project instead of spending more time with your kids? You have the ability to prioritize your efforts and decide which ones merit the most attention and you get to choose whether you live meaningfully. Take the time to reflect on what’s really important to you and make a conscious decision to move in a positive direction.
The next balance-increasing idea is to prioritize. If you work too much you might consider increasing the amount of time you devote to your personal life. If you don't work enough you can make an adjustment to increase your activity level. The idea is to be somewhere in the middle between all work and all play. You don’t have to be perfectly balanced all the time, but it is more enjoyable to spend your time in the middle where you'll feel more calm and relaxed instead of struggling with extremes.
It's also important to relax regularly. Taking frequent breaks is beneficial to your body because is helps you replenish your energy and brain power. Although you might be able to endure arduous activity for long periods, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for your body or mind. You weren’t designed to go at top speed permanently and you aren't built to process and endless stream of overwhelming information. Relaxing means not doing anything for a period of time so you can function more effectively overall. You can relax by taking a walk, doing non-strenuous exercise, meditating or breathing mindfully. The idea is to interrupt the non-stop action going on in your life.
When you possess a high level of self-awareness you realize that life isn't a perpetual rat race where you constantly exhaust yourself. The discomfort you feel when you're out of balance arises because you're missing a stable center point. Experiencing too much of anything has a tendency to marginalize the other areas of your life. To restore balance you just need to take the time to adjust your life by incorporating more of what’s missing. If you work too much, relax a little; If you are always napping, take action more often. You don't have to do everything at once, just make small adjustments to balance things out. What will you do to find balance?