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Trying to Balance Your Life? The Critical Element Isn’t Time. It’s Energy

Go ahead. Swing into action, whether it’s a work project that rewards, friend time that energizes, or solitude that heals.

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by Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

Well-Being
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“Fact is, most professionals and entrepreneurs could stay working at their offices overnight and still have plenty to do in the morning,” says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. “Work life balance is really about personal energy management. It’s not always about working less; it’s about doing what fulfills you.” Seeking the perfect balance between your personal and professional life is a Don Quixote quest. But checking in with yourself regularly can help you feel centered—and ultimately fulfilled. Just ask yourself these seven questions for finding balance in life.

What did I do that gave me energy and replenishment this week? “My work is really energizing, and I get a lot of personal, psychic reward from that,” Hedges says. “But I also have other things that fulfill me—my family, friends and creative pursuits.” Remember, you have to plan for fun. Try color-coding your calendar to ensure you get your quota every week and always have work-life balance.

See also: The First Step To Find Your Purpose Is Amazingly Mighty, Surprisingly Small

Was I regularly immersed and engaged in my work? When you’re “jamming,” working on something you love, the hours fly by, and you arrive home energized. It’s a plus in the energy column, Hedges says. On the flip side, just a few hours doing something that doesn’t align with your strengths can exhaust you. Notice how you feel at the end of the workday and make sure you’re jamming at least once.

What progress did I make toward my larger goals? Hedges blocks off a whole day out of her office each December. Others squirrel away for a weekend at the beginning of the new year. In that time, ask yourself what has made you happy—in work and in life. Hedges suggests naming three to five goals for the coming year, then putting them in a place you see every day. (Hers include revenue goals and playing with her kids daily.) “Goals aren’t tethers; they’re guides,” Hedges says. “On any given day, we may take curves. That’s okay. Seeing your goals will help focus your days.”

Was I able to set aside time to think and reflect? Carve out five minutes at the beginning of every day as thinking time. Take stock in yesterday and look with intention at today—then capture what matters most. I’m constantly amazed at the power of writing things down,” Hedges says. Clearing out mental clutter will help you help you balance your life, plan better and shift more energy toward things that fulfill rather than drain you.

Do I have energy for things that are important to me? When we’re using our strengths, we create energy. How often are you doing things that energize you?

“If the answer is ‘not enough,’ then you have a decision to make: Find a way to do it,” Hedges says. If you love playing guitar, start an in-house band at work. If you value exercise and miss time with friends, meet for an early morning bike ride—and talk. If I could craft a perfect day, what would those 24 hours look like? Consider your strengths, as well as what gives you energy. Look back at the times when you felt proud and engaged, doing something you wanted to do. In a perfect day, TV watching, social media, and running errands probably wouldn’t make the itinerary. Waste less time each 24 hours, and you can fit in what you love and value most. What are a few things I need to be happy and healthy? Perhaps it’s eight hours of sleep nightly, regular exercise or dinner with your family most nights. “It’s like Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: These are the basis of our emotional balance and health,” Hedges says. “Without sleep, it’s harder to control our emotions, be creative, and use our full cognitive ability. It’s hard to be self-actualized if your everyday life undermines good sleep.” Prioritize your needs; they’re your foundation. It’s all too easy to lose your footing in the dynamic world of work, full of choices and possibilities. After all, our culture equates busyness with success. “True fulfillment is feeling you are living into your highest purpose,” Hedges says. “For some people, that’s raising a family; for others, it’s reaching a career goal. It’s about crafting a life—with intention.”

Balance your life and you will find fulfillment and purpose, at work and play. To help you find balance in life, Life Reimagined has designed several helpful programs to improve well-being, such as this one.

Photos: Father and Daughter balancing on log Sollina Images/Gallery Stock Woman swinging from tree Credit: Hugh Whitaker/Gallery Stock