I recently ran a Wellbeing & Balance Workshop for a group of hard-working professionals. Afterwards I was asked for some specific ideas on how to achieve a better life balance and increased wellbeing. Here I have put together some thoughts and ideas that I hope you will find useful.
1. Recognise your strengths
Look at what you have already achieved; examine your strengths, skills and personal attributes that have got you to where you are now. Your life is not an accident; it has been designed and created by you. Understand how powerful you are; recognise everything that you can use to help you move forward to the next part of your journey.
2. Work to your strengths
Take some time to identify what the true priorities are in your life. Pay attention those priority areas which don’t seem to have a proportional amount of your energy or time given to them and think about how you could make some changes there.
The late great Stephen Covey, in his book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talked about our personal circle of influence. Act within it; don’t waste your energy and other resources by trying to change things that you simply have no control over. Put all of your efforts into working on that which you do have influence or control over - you are much more likely to achieve success.
3. Get excited –‘P’ yourself
Positive goals - target the things you do want to achieve over those which you don’t. Make sure you are moving towards a goal rather than away from something; this increases motivation. Break goals down into small manageable steps, you are less likely to feel like giving up.
Perseverance – use any perceived failures as stepping stones to your next step. Don’t waste energy beating yourself up; put your energy into trying it again.
Passion – find the thing that makes your heart sing. The more time we spend doing things that excite and energise us, the happier we will be in every area of our lives. Life’s short and comes with no guarantees;start thinking about what a fulfilled life looks like to you.
4. Keep your balance
Physical (body), intellectual (mind) and emotional (soul) are all areas that need our attention, and are all equally important for us to be able to have what we might consider a balanced and happy life. One should not be sacrificed for another. All of the areas of our lives are important, we are complex creatures and our mental and physical states are highly interlinked. Think about the emotional and mental impacts from physical exercise. Think about how working on one area of your life will have a beneficial impact on all of the other areas.
Take some time for you. This might mean relaxing in a bubble bath or it might be starting a course of study. It’s not selfish to take care of you. Put yourself in a position of strength – that way you can be strong for all the people in your life that love you and need you. Remember that they want you happy and healthy too. Put yourself on your own list!
Think how hard you are being on yourself. Stop beating yourself up. When you feel that you are kicking yourself over something that you have forgotten, or slating yourself for getting it wrong, ask: “Would I be this hard on someone else?” Allow that you WILL get it wrong sometimes – remind yourself it simply means you are learning and growing. Forgive yourself and move on.
5. Don’t get stuck
We all get down sometimes, that’s natural. It is useful and right that we need to withdraw from the world every now and again. No-one can possibly be happy all the time. Just remember that you can stay down for a little while, but not forever. Habits are more easily formed than broken. Be clear on when enough is enough.
6. Get real, get help
Yes we live in the real world, and yes we have certain obligations and responsibilities that we have to, and want to, fulfil. Acknowledge that, but also understand that when we are feeling out of balance or overwhelmed we need to rethink and maybe ask ourselves some pertinent questions. Try: “What are the negotiables and non-negotiables here?” or “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being ‘not worth thinking about’, and 10 being ‘life-and-death’, how important is this?” Always assess and reassess. Keep things in perspective.
Ask an expert. Talk to people who are in a similar position as you, get tips on how to do some of the things that you want to do. Join clubs, groups, or approach someone for advice – most people like to help. Keep an open mind and you never know what information and ideas might come your way.
Always surround yourself, and your thoughts, with the people and ‘talk’ that you want more of in your life. If you want to learn windsurfing you surround yourself with people who windsurf, and gather information about windsurfing - if you want to be more positive, surround yourself with positivity and positive people.
7. Think it, say it, do it
Try spending some time focusing on what you have that is positive, good or exciting in your life. It’s all too easy to notice what is wrong and then miss all the things that are going well. Ask yourself what you have to be grateful for in your life. Try something like the Happiness Project to help keep you focused when you are feeling down or demotivated. Pause and notice things at various points of the day. Spot the rainbows, listen out for the laughter.
Pay attention to how you phrase things. For example, if you said “I get to see my son play football today!” as opposed to “I have to go and watch my son play football today”, the feeling that you have about doing that task becomes one of pleasure rather than one of duty. Affirmations and mantras are excellent tools for keeping you on track with your thinking.
People are lifted or floored by other people’s moods. Know that you can make a difference to someone else’s day by just being a positive voice.
Smile and put some sunshine into the world. More often than not you will get a smile back. Effects from smiling include increasing ‘feel good’ endorphin levels, reducing wrinkles, making you look more attractive, reducing stress. Until it becomes more natural, just ‘fake it till you make it’ – when you are smiling you are sending your brain the message that there is something worth smiling about, once your brain thinks that then it sends out happy hormones, these make you feel like smiling.