Have you ever found yourself stretched in multiple directions with the best of intentions to be high performing, to make a meaningful difference and to feel good in the process? In reality however, you find that your work suffers, you fail to make the impact and your energy level hovers close to zero.
Welcome to the club! Who hasn’t felt this way at one time or another? Many of us strive to have that perfect balance of productivity, fulfillment and well-being. We search for that optimum point where our work yields a valuable and satisfactory output, our life has meaning and we are healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.
This perfect balance is going to look different for each of one us based on what we value and where we are at this moment in our lives and careers. Here are fundamental steps we can take to begin to form a picture of what our perfect balance looks like and initiate change. It involves reflecting on where we are now, deciding where we’d like to be and what is achievable within certain time frames. Finally, with this preparation, we can jump in feet first with the necessary steps to get there.
REALITY CHECK-Where are you now in each of these areas; work, fulfillment or life satisfaction and well-being? What is working in each area and what isn’t? What priorities are you overlooking or not attending too for each? The second part of this step is to envision where you would like to be in each area. Note: now is not the time to say what is possible or what isn’t for you. It’s an opportunity to honestly acknowledge what you desire.
GET PRACTICAL-Okay, now you are going to figure out how to make this doable. What is possible to achieve within different time frames in regards to the changes you’d like to make? You can break down your aspirations into smaller steps achievable for the short and long term. Try 3 to 6 months and 1-5 years. The goal is to break down what seems overwhelming or too large into something more manageable focused on one step at a time.
FUEL UP-Find and embrace your conviction to change. You have to find your why. Why is it so important to change? What is the upside of making the change even with the temporary discomfort it may bring? What is the downside if you don’t make the change? How long can you sustain the undesirable status quo?
JUMP IN YOUR WAY-Start with one or two specific actions that are a smaller version of the larger actions you need to take and do them asap. The key here is to take action in a way that suits you. Think of the smallest ways you can initiate momentum as soon as possible. It could be writing down your conviction and commitment to action, making a call, scheduling a task. If you want to overcome the fear public speaking and try to give a 30-minute speech right off the bat, it’s likely you’ll chicken out. Instead, think of different ways you could work up to speaking in front of a group of strangers that will stretch you just far enough, but not too far. How about speaking to a group of imaginary people in your living room or better yet your kid’s toys propped up like the audience? Or delivering a short speech at the family dinner table?
Even though it’s a common experience for us to be overwhelmed by the gap between where we are and where we want to be, it is less common to actually close this gap. Here is where we can embrace being the master of our lives. By uncovering and then reflecting on the gap in a thoughtful and purposeful way followed by small actions that suit us as well as stretch us, we can find the perfect blend of more performance with less pressure.