Living a balanced life
Sooner or later, we all end up doing “it” – looking ourselves squarely in the mirror and realizing that it is time to take stock, evaluate our lives, and redefine not only who we are, but who we will be.
For some of us this time comes when we are in our thirties or forties, for others as late as in our sixties or seventies. While both men and women find themselves faced with this task, women with their nurturing nature, especially moms, often have the biggest hurdles to overcome before change can happen.
Moms often give everything they have to their families including their own identity, says Chicago-area life coach Jolene Moore. “Women need to come back to who they were before they got married, before they became moms. Sometimes finding who you will be comes from revisiting who you once were,” she said.
“You can’t have it all,” says Moore, “but you can have enough of each part to be a great parent and a great self.” Moore says that the key is balance ... that and the willingness to take a good hard look at yourself, where you are, where you want to be and most importantly – what is holding you back.
7steps to a more satisfying life
1. Define balance. Make a pie chart of your life. Divide the chart into five areas: My Kids, My Personal Relationships/Marriage, My Friends/Social, My Health (include diet and exercise here), and My Work/Volunteerism. Rate the amount of energy and attention you give to each category. This should be an honest assessment of what your life looks like, not your ideal. Now make a second chart and identify what balance would look like in your life.
2. Be honest with yourself. Compare charts to see where you need change. Only change what you truly want to change – and be honest about your motives. If you don’t want to give up the time to volunteer at your child’s school – don’t. If you do want to, but only because you want to look good in front of your peers ... admit it, even if it is only to yourself. Knowing the “what” and the “why” will help you determine its importance to your life.
3. Make an action plan. Now that you know what you want – go for it. But first, set up your action plan. “We set our kids up to win,” says Moore, “but we don’t set ourselves up to. To succeed, you need an action plan.” Moore says that instead of saying “I’m going to loose 10 pounds in six months,” you should figure out what it will take to realistically reach that goal. Be specific. Ask yourself, how am I going to measure success, stay motivated, and hold myself accountable? “Write your action plan down,” says Moore, “People who write their goals down tend to have better follow through.”
4. Commit to your action plan. Put your plan on the calendar. If one of the changes you are trying to make is to go out once a week with your husband, write it in. And, stick to your calendar. Unless it is an absolute emergency, don’t cancel your plans. You wouldn’t just scratch your son’s soccer game off the calendar, and you shouldn’t scratch off your date night either.
5. Identify what motivates you and enlist help if necessary. To become a true self-motivator, you need to identify areas in your life where you have been successful and ask yourself “what motivated you to accomplish that, to have the follow through necessary?” Once you figure out what motivated you in that area, you can use the same thing to motivate yourself in other areas. If you can’t stay motivated on your own, find someone with like goals and motivate each other.
6. Always have a plan B. “Life often gets in the way,” says Moore, “You will be more successful if you are prepared for those intrusions. So, if a sick kid is preventing you from going to your walking club, don’t give up ... figure out your plan B. Maybe you could work out from home.”
7. Be forgiving. If you said you’d work out two days a week and you missed a week or find that you ate a few too many appetizers at the party the night before, don’t get mad at yourself, minimize the loss, says Moore. “Cut yourself a break and get back to it tomorrow. And, when you have successes, don’t forget to cheer for yourself like you would cheer for your kids.”
By Jean Dunning