Living a productive and meaningful life is a balancing act. With the pressures of today’s demanding and high paced world, most people struggle to find a reasonable balance. We can easily be drawn away from our key priorities when one aspect of our life consumes the bulk of our time and attention.
To a large extent, balancing life priorities is much like walking a tightrope. When we drift too much in one direction, we become unbalanced. To sustain what we value most in our lives, we must constantly maintain a level of equilibrium. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing the things that enrich and fulfill who and what we are.
Here are some useful techniques to help you better balance your life priorities.
(1) Determine the priorities that give you the greatest sense of purpose, meaning, and self-fulfillment.
Take time to define what you consider to be your top priorities in life. Start the process by focusing on facets of your mental and physical well-being, relationships with others, dreams and desires, lifelong learning, spiritual growth, and financial security.
Choose priorities that are relevant, achievable, and rewarding. Create a list of your top ones and post it in a place that you can easily access.
(2) Plan out and execute daily activities that include your priorities.
You have a finite amount of time and energy in any one given day, so careful planning is required. Within the framework of your daily responsibilities, map out what you can realistically accomplish to achieve your priorities. Strategize critical steps, including the when, where, what, and how.
For example… If one priority is to care for your father with Alzheimer’s, how can you achieve this goal while working full-time and taking care of a home with two teenage daughters? What specific steps might you employ to balance your efforts without losing sight of your own personal needs?
(3) Evaluate your progress.
Take time to periodically assess how well you are carrying out your priorities. Acknowledge your accomplishments and areas in need of improvement. If you continue to feel unbalanced, be willing to adjust your priorities or implementation strategies to bring you back into alignment. As your priorities change, alter your implementation plan to sustain your balance. This will be an ongoing process if you wish to keep moving forward.
(4) Stand your ground.
You own your priorities and how they balance your life. No one else can determine what is best for you even when they may try. Be prepared to walk away from difficult situations and to say no to unreasonable requests that ultimately compromise your balance. Consider it a personal victory when you have the strength and courage to protect what is important to you. Don’t relinquish your power to the unreasonable demands of others.
(5) Allow yourself time each day to center yourself.
An essential part of balancing your life is to take time for yourself. Make it a daily habit to spend some quiet time during your day to relax and let go. Turn off your cell and other distractions and just check out for even a short period of time.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities. – Stephen Covey
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Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College, a large community college in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member at Boise State University and on the Board for LEARN Idaho. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.