What is life balance, why it is important (and hard!) to maintain it, and how looking at your life holistically can help you

EPISODE 13

UPD: I have replaced the Breverie Circle membership with the Life Design Academy—you can learn more about it here.

One thing that I find particularly challenging to handle day to day is maintaining my life balance. It’s like we constantly juggle way too many things in our life, we try to do everything, and still, it often feels like we don’t hit the mark anywhere.

So in today’s episode, I want to dive into the topic of life balance – what it is, why it is important to become aware of all areas that your life consists of, and how you can actually create that holistic picture of your own life.

I am going to share one exercise with you that I personally found very helpful, insightful and thought-provoking. And if you want to try this exercise too, you can find it inside the Breverie Circle – so come join us inside this community while it’s still free!

There is this one thing that I personally find particularly difficult to handle in my day-to-day life and this is balancing all the different areas of my life. Marriage, being a spouse, being a parent, dealing with kids, dealing with pets, career, business, finding time for hobbies, making time for your physical health, for fitness, for mental health. It’s like we constantly juggle all these things, trying to maintain that balance, trying to find time for each of those and not to neglect any of those — and it is objectively hard.

I think probably the most common phrase I say when I am frustrated with something is, “I wish I had more time. I wish I had more time for everything that I want to do but I just don’t seem to have enough time for everything.” And it is hard. It is hard to deal with all of that and throughout all these, on one side, obligations, on another side opportunities, right? There are things that we have to do and there are things that we want to do and if you work too much you feel guilty that you don’t spend enough time with your family. Or on the other hand, if you want to be a good parent or a good spouse and you dedicate more time to your family but you are very passionate about something, about your business or about your hobby, you feel like you’re missing out on an opportunity to spend some time on this hobby.

It is really difficult to find that middle ground, where you find time for everything and everything is moving forward and everybody is happy and you are happy. So I would like to brainstorm around this topic and share with you some techniques, some exercises, that I have personally been trying and using recently. They have been helping me to really put my thoughts in order and to create some order around my whole life.

Problem – You prioritize one area of your life too much

The first topic that I would like to talk about today, in particular, is why it is important to be aware of all the different areas of our lives and what it really means to have that balance, and how we can look at this picture holistically, at our life holistically, and why it is important to do it.

I think what often happens is we tend to prioritize one of the areas of our lives too much. We put too much focus and attention on a specific area, for example, we work too much. We work on our career and we believe that this is the most important thing to focus on and so we kind of forget about all other things.

One danger here is that we think that this one area of our life will actually fulfill all of our needs that we have in general, but that’s not true.

It’s pretty much impossible for us to get all of our needs fulfilled with just one part of our life. We can sustain it for a little bit. Maybe even for a more extended period of time, but at some point some other things will get to the surface.

We will feel like something is missing in our lives.
Something is not right.
There must be something more.

Or even worse, if for some reason this area of our lives gets broken, something goes sideways, something stops working, we are left with nothing.

Let’s imagine you have been working so hard on your career. You put all of your effort to get a job and to climb your career ladder, but then something happens and you get laid off for example. You lose your job. It’s like your life is over because you don’t have anything else. You don’t have any other areas that you can lean into to recharge to gain that energy back. Your job was everything you had.

Or another situation is as a parent, if you dedicate all of your time to your kids and you forget about your friends, you neglect your hobbies and you don’t have a job anymore. Then your kids grow up and they go to college, and they leave the house, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. I hear these stories all the time about those parents who feel completely lost after their kids go to college because they just don’t have anything else in their lives to keep them moving forward.

Create variety and diversity in your life

On the other side, if you do know what all of your important areas of life are and you know about them and you make them intentionally part of your life, then it creates variety. It creates diversity. If something happens in one area then you have all other areas to tap into, to still feel like your life is continuing. If you lose your job you can still go to your friends for support or to your spouse. If you have a hobby then it’s not going to be a big deal when your kids grow up and leave the house because you will still have your hobby or you will still have your job.

So it’s really important to always look at your life holistically and to always know what are those important parts of your life that you want to be in your life and why they’re important. To really make time for those.

As I said, I have always intuitively thought that it is really important to look at it this way. Actually, one other thing that I keep thinking about is, and this is what I call the life ripple effect. I have seen this in my personal life as well. When you know about all of the different areas of your life and when you make a positive change in one area, usually it means that positive changes are introduced in these other areas as well.

This is how for example by gaining more confidence in the work environment and in the relationship, I was able to actually stay more committed to my fitness journey and I was actually able to finally lose weight.

By elevating one of my areas of life I was able to actually elevate others.

And that’s another advantage and another reason to become very aware of, “what are those important areas of your life?” and what you can do with them. How you can take advantage of them in your life and how you can really promote each of them even further.

Positive Psychology

I have been studying Positive Psychology recently. It’s something that I have become really interested in and what’s really fascinating is that many concepts of Positive Psychology really resonate with me from my personal experience. I was never into psychology before but many things that I learned now that are actually scientific research-based concepts. It’s really interesting to create those connection points and to really understand, “Okay, this is why it is this way. I always thought that that was the case but now I know the reason why it is.”

This is why I’m really into Positive Psychology now. I was very happy to find out that concept around balancing life and knowing your areas of life, or they call it life domains in Positive Psychology, is a big part of that whole concept. So, it’s a really important topic.

The Breverie Circle — an inclusive, inspiring space for women

I discovered a few exercises that I actually did recently and I would like to talk to you about one specific exercise today. Which by the way is also part of the Breverie Circle membership, which I don’t think I told you about it before. It’s a brand new membership that I started recently as an inclusive space for all of us busy hardworking women who want to take our lives to the next level.

I strongly believe that the best way to do this is by working together, learning together, learning from each other, inspiring each other, encouraging each other, and keeping each other accountable. Right now, it’s completely free. It’s not going to be free forever, I think after a few months I’ll close the gate for it to be free. But if you are going to be one of the first one hundred or so members, it’s going to be free for you for life.

So come join us if you are interested in becoming a part of this community of women who are working together on creating the best lives for themselves.

My plan with this community is not just to encourage open conversations and learn from each other, but I also want to start sharing a lot of useful resources, exercises, something that I personally tried and found useful, found helpful. This is why I already uploaded this exercise that I’m going to talk about in the space. Come join and you will be able to find this exercise and many others!

Understanding your most important life domain

This exercise that I tried, and I actually found it very insightful, is about understanding your most important life domains. The way they are now and the desired state of them.

Life domains

The first step is you just write down up to ten areas of your life, or life domains. These are basically areas, or aspects of your life that you spend your time on. This can be a family, or you can divide it separately – marriage, being a spouse, or being a parent. It can be your work, it can be your hobbies, it can be travel. It can be personal development or personal space. It can be social life or friendships. Anything that makes up your whole life.

Try to brainstorm and to not miss any of the important parts. You can think about it as such: how do you spend your day or your week? What have you been spending your time on in the last month? It will give you some ideas.

Once you come up with that list, then you roughly specify the percentage of time you spend on each. Let’s say roughly on work you spend 40% of your time. Then you dedicate maybe 5% to your fitness activities and 5% to your friends or having a social life, or whatever that might be for you.

Desired state

Then the other part of that exercise is what is your desired state? How much time would you like to ideally dedicate to each of your life domains? Write those down. And then you have a diagram, a chart created for you that represents it visually, which I think is really useful to really see it.

We all seem to have it in our heads, in our minds, “Okay, yeah I probably roughly work a lot or I spend a lot of time with my family. I probably should be exercising more.” But once you actually put it in writing or especially once you see it in some visual way, it might inspire and provoke some thoughts, insights and aha moments.

When I did this for myself I did come up with a few aha moments. It was pretty insightful for me. So, for example, and this is really no surprise, I realized that I work too much. I work objectively more than I want to but that’s because I have a full time job, but I also have Breverie. I have to balance both of them and there isn’t much that I can do about it right now. I guess one of the things, for me personally, that I needed to reflect on is to be okay with that.

That’s just capacity I have. Of course, ideally, I would only want to have one job, but right now I have two and I need to be okay with that. I need to know that this is my current situation and just be aware of it and accept the limitations.

But also, sometimes I feel guilty for working too much. And looking at this diagram of my life domains made me think that me working is not necessarily a bad thing. My income helps provide for the family. It helps provide for other things that are important to me – my hobby, my ability to go and do something with my daughter. And I shouldn’t necessarily feel guilty. I should appreciate everything that my job and my business gives me with one caveat…

I think it’s really important to be intentional about how you spend your time.

Just to give you an example, sometimes we try to multitask. Sometimes when I watch a movie with my daughter I still check my work emails. I try to be efficient but that’s not really efficiency. It’s me trying to do two things at once and what it results in is I can’t really focus on either of these activities.

I’m not fully present with my daughter. I am not able to discuss the movie with her because I get distracted by reading emails. But I am not fully present in my work environment either. I can’t create a very thoughtful email response because I keep being distracted by the movie.

So what I try to remind myself about is…

Multitasking is not a good thing.

It’s better to spend the time that you have being fully focused on one activity. If I watch a movie with my daughter I should be fully present there because then, even if it’s just one hour, I will feel good about it and I will not feel guilty if I need to go and respond to that email afterward. I will feel actually much better than if I try to do both things at the same time. Eventually, I will probably achieve better results in both – I will have a better conversation with my daughter about the movie but also I will be able to send an email response faster to my colleagues because I will not be distracted by this movie.

So what I have been trying to practice lately is to not multitask and to really stay focused. I think this is really important, especially when you feel like you don’t have enough time. Instead of multitasking, split your time between activities so that for each of them you are fully there.

You’re fully present. You’re fully engaged. And this is why it’s important – it creates more meaning for you. It creates more depth in that engagement with that area of life. It is more fulfilling.

As a result, you can get more in return by spending the same exact amount of time – more satisfaction, more fulfillment. And you will feel much better about yourself and about what you did, what you gave, and what you received.

Design your life

Just to continue on that topic, here is another thing that I noticed, and this is about my ideal state. When I tried to say, “I want to spend more time on my hobbies, I want to travel more, and I want to meet with see my friends more often,” actually, my total percentage was more than 100%. When I tried to say, “Okay, I want to ideally work no more than 40% and I want to spend 10% all on interaction with my husband. 10% on my fitness activities, I want to travel 10% of my time and I want to do that, and do that…” Then if you combine it all it’s actually more than 100% which doesn’t make much sense, because I only have 100%!

So these made me think about two options. The first one is, instead of trying to increase the amount of time I spend on something ask yourself, how can I make it more meaningful? How can I increase the depth of the time that I have so that I can get more within the same amount of time, if not less?

Because it’s not about quantity – it’s about quality.

It’s not about how much time we spend with our partners or our kids, working on our business or doing our job activities. It’s about how focused we are, how engaged we are. And this is where true productivity comes in and this is where more fulfillment comes in because we feel more connected to what we are doing if we are fully engaged in that activity.

But then another option that I thought was very interesting and something to really consider is how I can combine multiple life areas into one activity. For example, I am very passionate about photography. Being out there taking photos and creating something aesthetically beautiful. I like to create something that shows the beauty of the world the way I see it, and I like to share it with others. So how can I incorporate this skill, this passion in my business?

One simple thing to consider is creating Instagram reels for The Breverie Instagram page.

Instead of making them look like every other reel out there, I can make them unique and beautiful. And with that, I will kill two birds with one stone! I will provide more useful, inspirational content for the Breverie followers, but also I will be able to satisfy my need to be creative or my need for my hobby time.

Or another example. I love to travel. We haven’t been traveling a lot lately, so I would love to start traveling more. At the same time, I would love to spend more time with my family. So, we can start taking more family trips! Because it’s a very good way to spend time as a family, to connect as a family on a deeper level outside of just a normal daily routine environment, while also exploring the world, seeing something new and going on an adventure.

One more thing I realized while looking at my results is that I have been completely neglecting my social life. Especially since we moved to Houston I haven’t really seen my friends much, and I work from home. So I definitely miss that social interaction. And I realized that one of the reasons I decided to start the Breverie Circle was to get more of that interaction!

What starts as a virtual community, might develop into the real life relationships and friendships, and not just for me but for all members!

Conclusion

All these insights are just the tip of the iceberg. The next important thing to start thinking about is what your needs and values are and how you can put them into action to make sure you prioritize what matters most to YOU at this point in time.

Because in the world that is full of opportunities, full of information coming our way, it’s more important than ever to be able to filter what is important to us, what matters to us, and what we need to focus our time on.

And without understanding your values, your needs, your passions, and your strengths, you’re blind.

You will want to try everything. You will have constant fear of missing out. And you will be stretching yourself too thin, spreading yourself too wide. Instead of going deep.

And only by going deep you can find most meaning, happiness and success.


Related episodes

Episode 12 – Five life lessons I learned during my recent outdoor run
Episode 11 – How to find answers you are looking for and why it’s so important to create space for your thoughts and ideas
Episode 1 – What is the life ripple effect, and how it can help you achieve your goals

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