Somewhere along the line, we all started to buy into the idea that our life should be ‘balanced’ – that every area of life needs just the right amount of attention, at just the right time, or we’re doing it all wrong. But if you ask me, ‘balance’ is a pretty crappy measuring stick.
Who even knows what ‘balance’ is? It’s so vague that we never actually know if we’re there or not. All we know is that we need to work, but not too much. We need to rest, but not too much. We need to be strict, but not too strict. We need to have fun, but not too much fun. And we need to take care of ourselves, but not too much of the time. No wonder we all feel like we’re doing it wrong – who knows what we’re even trying to do?!
All of that to say that in this blog post, I’m not going to be talking about balance so much as I’m going to be talking about how to live a life that’s satisfying to you – whether that’s balanced or not! Here’s what to do:
1. Design Your Perfect Day
The first step is to design your perfect day. This will help you get a clear idea of what you actually want so you have something tangible to aim for!
The process is simple. Get out a pen and paper (it’s always better to handwrite this kind of thing than to type it out) and paint a mental picture of your perfect day. Think about where you wake up, who you’re with and what you do throughout each part of the day. What kind of work are you doing? What sort of food do you eat? How do you spend your time? The more specific, the better! Write, write, write.
How To Do It
Before I share my perfect day, I just want to mention a couple of things to watch out for when you’re doing this exercise. The first is that you might find this exercise really challenging – and that’s ok. It can be painful to dream about something you don’t believe will ever happen. It can be painful to see that your life right now looks nothing like what you want it to. But it’s still worth doing! The point of this exercise is to give you something tangible to work towards, it’s ok if your life looks nothing like your perfect day. It’s not a waste of time!
While you’re doing this exercise, it’s important that you design your perfect day – not the perfect day you think you should have. Everyone’s will be different and it will change as you go through different stages of life – so don’t worry about creating a perfect day that will suit you for the rest of your life! Just paint a picture of your perfect day at this point in time.
Also, while it’s tempting to create a perfect day where you’re your most lazy and overindulgent self, that probably won’t leave you loving life in the long-run (and you probably won’t have a great opinion of yourself either). Because you’re reading this post, I know that you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be. So what kind of day would you have if you were your best self? How would you act? What would you think about? What would you be working towards? Who would you (and wouldn’t you) spend your time with? That’s the kind of perfect day you want to design.
The other thing is that this doesn’t mean you will never have any variation at all in your day. Designing your perfect day is just an exercise to help you get clear on what’s important to you and you’re welcome to create multiple ‘perfect days’ if you wish! And this exercise is also amazing to do alongside goal-setting. If you don’t have any specific goals mapped out, this blog post will be a huge help!
My Perfect Day
Here’s my perfect day at this point in my life:
On my perfect day, I wake up early and go to the gym or for a walk on the beach while listening to a podcast (I am NOT someone who always feels like waking up early and going to the gym – I want to sleep in but I don’t because I know it doesn’t leave me feeling my best. And I don’t live on the beach – yet). I have a shower, a healthy breakfast and either read or do some personal development work for a couple of hours. Then I get to work on my business alongside my close team in my big beautiful office (I don’t have a team yet or a big beautiful office – I’m working on it). I’m focused, productive and constantly evolving what I do. I’m making a contribution. I get home and spend time with Steve. Watch one of our Netflix shows, have sex, chat about life and our goals and business. And I put my head on my pillow knowing that I’ve given it my all.
Knowing what my perfect day looks like makes it easier to make decisions and choose where I spend my time. It’s also a much better compass than ‘balance’ because I can actually see what I need to do in order to get there. And as I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean that I never have any variation in my day and that my perfect day can’t change (I imagine it will look very different once I have kids). And it doesn’t mean that I’ll have a perfect life – shit will still happen. But it’s important to have a starting point!
2. Reverse engineer your perfect day
Now that you’ve designed your perfect day, it’s time to reverse engineer it! Take a look at what you’ve written down and notice how much time you want to spend working, how much time you want to spend with friends and family, how much time you want to spend on personal development, how much time you want to spend on health and fitness. These will be your personal guideposts (this is why the perfect day exercise is so much better than trying to be ‘balanced’ – we all have a different idea about what our perfect day will involve!).
The next step is to create a list of the elements of your perfect day.
If the activities in your perfect day feel completely out of reach, think about how you want to feel on your perfect day and come up with a list of activities that will help you create that feeling. Also try to choose at least one element from your perfect day that you can begin to put into your current day-to-day life!
When doing this, it’s important own that everything you do in your life is a choice. If you work, it’s not because you ‘have’ to but because you want money or you want a career or you want to learn and grow. If you exercise, it’s not because you ‘have’ to but because you want to feel energetic, you want to be healthy, you want to feel good. Everything is truly a choice. And if you’re going to do something, you may as well do from a place of wanting rather than a place of obligation. And if you don’t want to do something, stop doing it (note: if you feel like there’s something you don’t want to do but you don’t believe you can stop doing it – there’s something there that you want).
3. Plan, plan, plan
Now that you’ve got a list of the things you want to spend your time doing, it’s time to make a plan. Often, we shy away from this step because planning means making decisions. It’s also hard to plan something that you don’t believe it can actually happen. And most of us would rather dream about doing everything than actually do something!
But it’s so important to plan! And you probably won’t be able to fit everything from your perfect day into your real day, so you’ll need to prioritise. Take a look at the list you create in the list step and number them. Don’t skip this step! You need to determine what is most important to you and what you might need to let go of. If you try to do everything at once, you will most likely end up doing none of it (if you have an all-or-nothing mindset, you might find this video helpful).
Putting your to-do list into your calendar is pure magic. Not only does it force you to actually create a real plan (so you have something tangible to work with) but once it’s done, it completely eliminates overwhelm. You know what you need to do and when you need to do it – there’s no long to-do list to worry about.
And I just want to be clear about one thing – planning your life doesn’t mean that it’s going to be rigid, strict and boring. Having a plan means that you’re living your life with purpose. And your plan also needs to have all the fun and relaxing stuff you want to do too (it’s not just for work). And if something else comes up – no worries! You can still be spontaneous. But at least if you’ve got a plan then you won’t look up from your phone after scrolling through Instagram for 2 hours and wonder where the time’s gone.
4. Follow through
There’s no point planning unless you follow through. And the great news is that following through is completely in your control.
The biggest thing I can stress when it comes to following your plan is that it shouldn’t be dependent on whether or not you ‘feel like it’. So many of us are scared to make plans because we’re worried we won’t be able to stay motivated. The good news is that you don’t need motivation! In this blog post, I share how I get shit done when I don’t feel like it (which is all the damn time).
5. Put Your Phone Down
The final thing I want to share with you is to be present. I know that sounds so woo woo but I’ve found that when I’m actually focusing on what I’m doing, I enjoy life so much more (even if the thing I’m doing is work).
For me, this basically just means putting down my phone. I used to watch Netflix while scrolling through Instagram, eating and replying to text messages all at the same time. And while that sounds amazing, it means I wasn’t ever fully engaged with any one of those things. And I always just felt so blah. I also noticed that whenever I was walking anywhere I was looking down at my phone. Not only did this mean that I was always running into people (oops!) but I didn’t see so much of the world around me.
I don’t know if you can relate, but start to take notice of the areas in your life where you’re not really paying attention. If you’re going to watch Netflix – watch Netflix. If you’re studying – study. If you’re hanging out with your friends – hang out with your friends. It sounds so simple but it will have a huge impact on the way you feel about your life, I promise you.
So there you have it – how to create work-life balance, I hope you found it helpful! And I’d love to hear what your perfect day looks like in the comments!