These 11 strategies have the power to transform the stress and anxiety around your personal life, your professional life, and even your health. Doing some work up front in the form of reflection and completing these steps will provide you with an any-case-scenario problem-solving solution. The reason why these strategies are so effective is that they are created based on your true essence and who you are from your core. When you organize your life from the inside out and around what’s most important, you gain a sense of peace of mind you may not have had since you were a child.
Often, we get so busy and buried in the daily problem-solving, we forget about the big picture. And when we try to move forward from a place of stress, we get anxious about the choices we make. We start to question everything. We feel out of balance or we experience burnout.
What you will get out of completing these steps is a short, simple, and effective tool that you can easily use to bring yourself back to center and get the clarity you need. Then, you can feel in harmony with whatever your circumstances are.
If you are using this technique correctly, you’ll be at peace, whether you are spending the majority of your time on a project and shutting the world off, or you are chilling on a hammock with a mai tai.
A sense of harmony doesn’t come from dividing up your time evenly between all your life segments—like work, family, fitness, fun, etc.—but from the feeling that you are doing the right things at the right time and that you are prioritizing correctly.
So, work-life balance is not a problem of “balance” but prioritization. Each piece gets its appropriate time and attention at any given moment. The moments are constantly changing, and you need to be able to keep dancing with what’s most important at each given moment.
To be able to decide which is most important, you’ll need to check in with your findings from completing these steps.
The first time I started playing with the ideas of the work-life “balance” was after I read the book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. They introduce the idea of “counterbalance,” and how we just learn to juggle the important things and switch our focus to what’s most important at that exact time, while leaving the rest of the variables out of balance.
They make a great point that there are several aspects that you can’t juggle, but you must always prioritize, as they don’t recover from a juggle fall. They are your health, your family, and your close relationships. They make an argument that these 3 often don’t bounce back, and you don’t really want to take any chances there either.
So, let’s get to work:
- Get crystal clear on your personal VALUES.
Consider this a 30-minute exercise where you brainstorm the top 10 most important things to you. Think of all areas of your life. Then, picture yourself on your deathbed, or on a rocking chair at 99 years of age, or your tombstone, if you wish. Think of potential regrets, unfulfilled dreams, or wisdom you would want to pass down. What are the top 3 things that stand out as true to your soul? What are these 3 values that are so important to you that you don’t see yourself living without them? Look at the list of possible VALUES at the end of this e-book. If you take these 30 minutes today to get clarity on your top 3 or even top 5, you can expect a huge return on investment from saving time on making decisions for the rest of your life.
My top values are health, wisdom, family, and love.
Any time I am presented with an important life choice, I check if it aligns with my values. I ask myself: “Does this support me in living with my values or does it pull me away?”
Job offers, business ideas, relationships, hobbies, and lifestyle choices could easily “run through” your top values.
2. Evaluate your current lifestyle.
Now that you have your values narrowed down to 5 at the most, take an honest look at your life. Look at the way you spend your time. Where and how does most of the time get invested? What do you pour your life force into? Give yourself a grade from 1 to 10 on each value and how you are fulfilling it NOW. Not how you want to, but how you actually are. Be honest and tell the truth.
In some areas, you may need to make small changes that lead to great results. And sometimes big transformations are needed. Small changes could be as simple as adding vitamins and omega-3 supplements back into your diet to support your health value. A life transition or a career change, for example, are bigger transformations that require a lot more attention but still need to be considered if your current life doesn’t reflect your values.
No matter how big the change may seem, acknowledge that you want to work on this area of your life and create a step-by-step plan for it. Hiring a coach could be a great support during these times.
Working with a coach has helped me during some of my biggest and hardest life transformations and transitions. During the past 5 years, I have recovered from a divorce, left my full-time job as a fitness manager, started a new business, actively dated as a single mom in her 30s, career-transitioned and started two businesses, lost and grieved my father, and created a flexible, positive, healthy, and happy co-parenting lifestyle for my daughter with her father. None of this would have been possible if I was not committed to fulfilling my greatness and therefore hiring help to support me in this journey.
Think of all areas of your life and boldly state the facts. What’s working, and what needs to improve, change, or transform? Then, take action.
3. Set new priorities.
With a new awareness of the status quo, write down what grades you want for these values in 30, 60, and 90 days. Write down what DAILY actions and habits you are going to implement. Set systems in place for all the new habits. Having a system that you can implement and then just plug in and play will ensure that you are making these new habits sustainable and lasting. For example, a system for eating healthier is to get a healthy meal delivery subscription, like Thistle. I love getting several fresh salads per week that are packed with a wide variety of vegetables that I would never otherwise purchase and prepare myself. Other examples of effective systems are carving out time in your schedule for things like time with friends, the gym, or a class you’ve been wanting to take. Actually putting it in your calendar increases the chances of it happening from near 0% to near 100%. Setting reminders on your phone is also helpful to stay faithful to your new goals.
4. Create time for your new priorities.
Make a massive cleanup of your schedule. Identify all life-sucking activities that you’ve been tolerating but you don’t truly believe serve your values and life vision.
Are you driving your children to a dozen sports activities instead of spending downtime together and connecting on a deep level? Are you spending 4 hours each weekend cleaning when you can probably afford someone to do this for you and free up a few hours for time in nature or with friends? Are you spending hours each day on social media or in front of the TV, but insisting that you don’t have time for the gym? Are there people in your life that drain your energy? Be bold and unapologetic about making massive changes to your lifestyle.
This life journey is a fleeting moment in the grand history of humanity. Spend it on your terms.
I recently had a conversation with an old friend who has seen me curate a different life over the past several years. He said that at first, I seemed cold hearted in the way I prioritized my time. He said that it seemed selfish when he saw me stick to my boundaries and decline different invitations. He had seen me end long friendships or pull away from some others. He shared that he now finds it inspirational to see the results of my hard work and how I’ve been enjoying time for the people, hobbies, and work that’s important to me and that inspires me.
Learning to limit time with family and friends that have more negative than positive effects on us could be the hardest. We can still love these people and wish them well, but it doesn’t mean that we can give them our hours.
5. Stay committed to your priorities.
Learn to comfortably and confidently decline offers that are not feeling like a “Fuck yes!” Remember that if it is not a “Fuck yes,” then it’s for sure a “Fuck no!” Don’t get pressured and cornered by well-meaning folks who ask for your time, even if it is for a great cause. If cutting down your volunteering time will mean more joy, freedom, and peace of mind due to a couple of hours of relaxing time every 2 weeks, then change your commitment. A lot of my clients tell me that they are “people pleasers,” and they hate disappointing the people around them by saying “no.” My response is that you’ll have to choose: Do you want to live with the feeling of disappointing others, or the feeling of regret of disappointing yourself? What happens often when you please others is that you build up resentment. Putting others first isn’t always noble, wise, or selfless. It’s often irresponsible. You are asked to put your oxygen mask on first in an airplane for a reason. We are only good for others when our needs are being met FIRST.
This life was given to you, for you. It is your responsibility to design it the way you find fitting. Find your truth and stay committed to it. Other people’s opinions have never paid your bills and will never lead to a fulfilling life. My favorite quote on commitment is: “If you are interested, you’ll do what’s convenient. If you are committed, you’ll do whatever it takes,” by John Assaraf.
You can apply that to your diet, fitness, relationships, business, an inspiration, project, and practically anything. Just ask yourself: “Am I committed to this, or am I just interested?” And then act accordingly.
I am constantly curating my life to make my life an expression of these values. When I first completed this exercise myself, I realized that I was barely fulfilling the health value. At the time, I ate a plant-based diet, I exercised vigorously several times per week, and I was in great health according to my yearly checkup. However, what I realized was that I was doing the bare minimum of what I knew about living a healthy lifestyle. I was practically avoiding getting fat or ill. I was not actively promoting my health by doing my very best. The intentions that drove my actions were rather weak and not inspired by serving my health. The last 3.5 years I have been transforming my relationship with my health. I’ve made huge progress in my intentions and the way I think and feel about food, exercise, and mental health.
I have been incorporating all my knowledge about health and fitness into my own lifestyle, and I am investing more time and effort into it. When I go to the gym, I think of all the benefits that movement gives to my body and how amazing it makes me feel afterward. I go into my routines with an intention to care for my body, not punish it for not being perfectly sculpted. I’ve incorporated green vegetables into my main meals and I’m mindful of the variety of fruits, vegetables, and nutrients I get from my foods like probiotics, minerals, and vitamins.
In conclusion, I identified my value and started aligning my life closer with this value.
6. Create a killer morning routine that gets you pumped up for your day: move, reflect, plan.
As Aubrey Marcus says in his book, Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex, if you master one day, progressively, you will master your life. Your life consists of individual days that, put on a string, make up your life. So, if you are not working on your goals and priorities daily, you’ll never have the life you desire. If you keep writing that book in your head, it will never get published. But if you set aside 30 minutes every day, eventually, you’ll have it written. Create the habit of taking action on ALL your goals. When you think of something that you should be doing, make it a thing you ARE doing.
Top influencers, successful CEOs, and thought leaders have been sharing their morning routines and the importance of getting a solid and consistent start to your day. What I’ve learned from Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins, Tim Ferriss, Gary W. Keller, Jay Papasan, Joe Rogan, and Aubrey Marcus is that there are a few key and common across-the-board habits for the first hour after you wake. One them is a sort of movement: Move your body in a way that gets your heart rate going. It helps boost good hormones of joy and gets your metabolism and focus jump-started.
Next, reflect on what your priorities are for the day. Compare your daily actions for the week and how they measure up with your weekly, monthly, or yearly goals, or your overall vision.
Adding a cold shower, sunlight, and breathing and/or meditation to your morning are other positive practices that are backed up with tons of research and have been around for a long time.
Also, set an end of your workday. It’s nice to look forward to, let’s say, 7 p.m., when you can stop being a responsible adult. Stay away from checking your phone for messages and emails. Living life on your terms means making your priorities the big rocks and filling in the jar with the small rocks of everything else that will be demanded from you via the world.
Create your own routine and try to execute 70 to 80% of it on most days. We are going for progress, NOT perfection, as one of my favorite entrepreneurs and influencers, Marie Forleo, says.
USEFUL TIP: Completing something hard first thing in the morning will boost your confidence and help you get things done the rest of your day. Getting the worst out of the way will leave you anxiety-free and feeling accomplished the rest of the day.
Great books on this topic are: The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, by Mel Robbins; When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel H. Pink; The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan; Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping, and Sex, by Aubrey Marcus; and High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, by Brendon Burchard.
7. Create solid work boundaries.
Decide on what time you will start working and the time you will end each day, and stick to it. Having a deadline will help you stay focused during the day and be more productive. If you have been responding to work emails around the clock, you may have to do some reflection and extra work to change this. Often, it’s the corporate culture to respond to emails from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. It may seem like an impossible goal to not be available to your boss, employees, or coworkers, but there are people out there with the same circumstances that have figured it out. If it’s not done at your company, be that visionary and disrupt the system. Do it first. I once worked at a job where the employees never took their lunch break, or they ate very quickly standing up a few minutes at a time. I decided that this didn’t work for me, so without permission, I started sitting down every day for 15 minutes to eat my meal. At first, my coworkers were shocked. I could see them just waiting for me to get in trouble. No one said anything, so after several weeks, everyone started sitting down, and it became the new official culture of the workplace for the following few years I worked there.
My point is that you need to be aware of your values and set strong boundaries around them. We tend to respect people with strong boundaries and trust them more. Be one of them.
8. End your day with thoughts of gratitude.
A great strategy is to keep a gratitude journal and a pen on your nightstand. Before putting the lights out, list a few things you are grateful for. You might be surprised that even on a bad day, if you sit down and really think, you will find several great things or moments in your day. Tons of research is coming out proving that being grateful is the fastest way to overcome fear-based thoughts and also transform our reality. Rewiring our brains to focus on the good and raising our vibration by appreciating will lead to a peace of mind, a sense of satisfaction, and joy.
I noticed that when I started this practice (after years of refusing to, because I just didn’t think it was cool), I felt much happier about my day. I often had forgotten about small wins earlier in the day. I caught myself feeling my heart filled with love for my family, my clients, and my home. Writing it down just made it so much more real and tangible. It’s such a fulfilling and rewarding way to end your days. It feels like a mini celebration of life. Each day in itself builds our lives. Celebrating each one of them will create a life worth celebrating.
9. Don’t take life too seriously.
Be flexible and become capable of detaching from your plans and how you think things are supposed to go. Detours happen. Our planning for life makes God laugh, as someone once said. At the end of the day, life is about the journey and not the destination. All paths lead home anyway, so trust that everything is happening to you at the right time. Learn to easily let go of things not going your way, and embrace the mantra, “Everything is perfect the way it is.” You missed your flight? Immediately repeat: “Everything is perfect the way it is.” You don’t know why you were steered in a different direction? Being angry and frustrated are terrible feelings and score low on the vibrational scale. They won’t help you feel balance and harmony, so even if it feels fake or irrational, try to replace them with a sense of faith that things are always working out for you.
Comedian and author of the book, Comedy Sex God, Pete Holmes, shared in an interview with Lewis Howes on The School of Greatness podcast that when things go south, he says: “Yes and thank you.” He talked about the notion of being grateful for everything that comes your way and also thinking of your misfortunes with the 5-years-later hindsight as they happen. Why wait the 5 years? Have the peace of mind now.
Another mantra that I’ve found useful is from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s book, The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way: “I want to feel good.” He suggests just repeating it to help yourself get back to center. He explains at length how the purpose of our lives is to find ways to consistently feel good.
I try to think, “What is this an invitation for?” when things don’t go my way. Do I need to be more patient ,to slow down ,to look around?
When people are interviewed on their deathbeds, they often say that they wished they worried less, that they took more chances, and that they spent more time with family.
So, live life more lightly, worry less, and accept what the present is inviting you to.
10. “Enough” is the new “more.”
So often I catch myself comparing my business or my life or my parenting to others. It seems that there is still so much more that I want to experience, see, read, and accomplish. That brings me more anxiety and sadness and a kind of pressure to work harder. I catch myself judging my progress in life. In that space of judgement, jealousy, or dissatisfaction, I hardly create anything of good value. But when I get present to all that I already have, I feel fulfillment, a sense of overwhelming appreciation to the universe or life. When I think of everything that I already have in my life as a gift, I find myself inspired.
From a place of inspiration, we create what is a true reflection of our spirit. When we are aligned with our purpose in life, we move at a magical speed. We get pulled forward by our vision and we can take massive actions. We notice synchronicities, signs we are on the right path; things seem to come easily. We often make new connections, we get unexpected phone calls, and we open books to the right pages to get the ideas we hoped for. When we are on the right path, the whole universe conspires.
11. Find supportive people in your life to share your plan with.
In addition to creating systems for fulfilling your values, it would be enormously impactful for you to share your vision with the people you love and trust. If they are good partners, they’ll support you in your journey and hopefully you can inspire each other to grow and do even better. I often share with my friends the new things I am doing in my life to add value to our friendship, and share with them what I have found helpful, useful, or successful. As you can probably already see, I’ve read dozens of self-help and personal development books. I am constantly sharing with the people in my life what I am learning and trying out. It opens the conversation and often I learn new things from others as well. This type of nerding out is my favorite way to connect with people. I hope you enjoy it as well…
P.S. Send me an email with your life hacks for work-life harmony! Learning is my #1 strength according to StrengthsFinder 2.0, so I’d love to hear from you!
My wish to you, is that you are clear on your purpose, that you listen to the quiet whisper of your soul, and that you savor the harmony that pours into your heart.
If you feel you can use a new partner in your journey, a support system in the form of a personal coach, PLEASE connect with me to schedule your complimentary coaching session.
It’s my life’s purpose to support others in their journey to fulfill their greatness.
Yours in wisdom and greatness,
The following list of values is borrowed from one of my favorite authors and social scientists, Brené Brown. You can get her PDF from her Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. book here: https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/wpcontent/uploads/2019/02/Values.pdf
Being the best
Making a difference