Life balance is a sham. Seriously. Have you ever found anyone who has a perfectly balanced life? No. Why? Because balance implies that everything in your life has equal importance. And when was the last time that your child’s well-being mattered equally as much to deciding what show you would unwind with on Netflix? Never, right? So turns out, this balance concept that we often idealize not only never happens, but it shouldn’t happen. That’s why if we want to stop feeling pulled in so many directions, we’ve got to stop trying to find balance and we’ve got to intentionally prioritize our lives instead. Here are three tips that will save your time and your sanity simultaneously:
Define your priorities so you can live by them.
If we don’t intentionally pursue living our lives proactively, we will naturally default to living reactively. Our priorities will change, depending on the opinions and opportunities in front of us at that given moment. If that’s you, stop giving yourself stress that is completely unnecessary. Write down your top three priorities and honor your priorities as you make decisions. Let’s say I decide that time with my family is more important to me than my career. So then, for example, suppose I am invited to be on a new planning committee for my company that meets on Monday nights for the next six weeks. I’m quickly reminded my son’s basketball games are only on Monday nights. Being on the committee would mean I would miss most of his games for the season. If I’ve clearly defined my priorities, I can quickly and politely decline the invitation. Because I already decided that being present with my family was more important than advancing my career, the big decision was already made before the specific situation presented itself. John Maxwell said it best: “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.”
His/her priorities are not your priorities (and that’s a good thing!)
Social media is not terrible in itself. But just like a hammer is a useful tool in the hands of a carpenter and a dangerous weapon in the hands of a toddler, we must be careful that we don’t let the ability to watch someone else live their life prevent us from living our own lives. You have a unique combination of gifts and experiences that are specific to you. You have a circle of influence no one else has. So if you’re not you, you rob the world of a blessing. Because we don’t need two of him/her; we need him/her and we need you. He/she may be awesome, but you are too. One of the quickest ways to feel inadequate is to try to be someone you’re not. But contentment follows living out your priorities. Too often, we fall for the lie that the unfulfilled feeling that rises up inside of us would leave if we just had that job or that natural ability or if we were simply in that next season of raising kids. But often, that unfulfilled feeling is simply because we aren’t making the most of where we are right now. Stop waiting for what’s next or wanting more. Fully investing where you are now is far more fulfilling than waiting on things beyond your control.
Stop trying to do it all, and just do what matters.
I’m not sure when people started giving themselves badges of honor for multitasking, but usually, multitasking results in mediocrity. When you divide your focus, you divide your effort, which divides your impact. Multitasking doesn’t save you time; it wastes your time. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. Decide what the few things are that rise above everything else, and passionately pursue those few things over and over again. Turns out, those who have the greatest impact are those that are the least distracted. Because here’s the beauty of defining your priorities: by writing down what matters most, you also articulate what doesn’t matter. You don’t have to chase every opportunity. In fact, chasing an opportunity that doesn’t align with your priorities isn’t an opportunity at all; it’s an obstacle. In fact, I might even go as far to say it’s an actual opponent of your purpose. The worst thing you could do right now is read all of this, think “that’s nice,” then close out the window and go about your day. If you’ve never defined your priorities before, you’re at the mercy of your reactive routine to actually live by them. Take three minutes. Write your priorities down. Then, live by them. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so let’s choose do less of most things so we can do more of what really matters.