Life's Balancing Act...Part One - Marianna's Take

I have been reminded many times that I planned to write a post about Life’s Balancing Act. We’ve been talking about it for months, and yet here I sit in September, still trying to make time for my thoughts. I planned to share a few steps that have helped me achieve my goals and find success in life. As you can judge from this start of this post, I have not perfected this act myself. In the process of getting my thoughts down on paper, I learned a few things and I’ve been reminded of the practices that still, after all these years, get away from me at times, especially as life rises up and presents a new challenge.

For the past 25 years or so, I have been trying to do it all: be a nurturing and involved role model type mother, a supportive wife, a successful and impactful financial planner and business owner, a caring daughter, an involved friend and etc., etc., etc..

What is a work-life balance, really? According to the Wikipedia definition: “Work–life balance is the term used to describe the balance that an individual needs between the times allocated for work and other aspects of life.” The word BALANCE in itself is kind of interesting; balance means different things to different people. Secondly, does anyone ever feel completely balanced?

First things first - Define what Balance means to YOU (and there is no right or wrong answer) and prioritize what is more important at this stage in your life: Family balance, Financial Balance, Health Balance or some combination of them.  Second, assign concrete and measurable steps to track your progress, to keep you looking forward. Do not regret the past mistakes you’ve made, that you mostly likely cannot change.  And when in doubt, I say these words by Nelson Mandela:

I don’t lose. I either win or learn.
— Nelson Mandela

When I feel overwhelmed I refer back to the 2 books I keep on my nightstand that I have given to my children, friend’s children, clients and many other folks, over the years. 

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life” by Richard Carson.  This is a book for everyone, at every stage of your life. Every time I re-read this book, I am amazed how current and inspiring it is.

The Second book is called “Habit Stacking. 97 Small life changes that take 5 minutes or less’’ by S.J. Scott. Most of us have a running list of things we want to accomplish as soon as possible: errands to run, exercise routine to stick to, places to visit, people to see etc. That never-ending list makes us anxious and feel unaccomplished. By learning to adopt small changes into our routine helps us build a ritual that is easy to follow, and alleviates stress.

From reading those two books, I have adopted three key steps to balance and practice them daily to keep me motivated, consistent and LESS stressed. Hopefully you will find these help you too:

  1. Think of WHAT YOU HAVE instead of what you want - Every morning, I think of how fortunate and lucky I am to be so blessed with my family, my career, all that surrounds me.

  2. SIMPLIFY your life - Each morning I look at my day’s plans and figure out what I can take away from my day to be less stressed. More often than not, that “must do” thing on my list doesn’t really have to be done, bought or even talked about.

  3. EXERCISE is the key to happiness and will help you counterbalance the stress in your life. Be it yoga, Zumba, running, or your own private dance party… pick something that makes you feel good and make it your routine.

Through the years, I have made these small changes to my life and found that it has made a difference, especially in the most hectic times. I find that when I am feeling out of balance, it’s usually because I have gotten away from one or all of these key practices. I pause, take a few moments to breathe and start fresh the next day. This continues to work for me and I hope these insights, or your own help you to find balance and harmony in your life.