Balance at the Bar

We’re only a few months into 2010, and if you’re like many people, your New Year’s resolutions have been pushed aside as work and life again compete for your time. If you find yourself living life at an unsustainable pace, it’s not too late to make balance a priority. These five steps can help:

1. Lead with an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is more than “saying thank you.” It’s looking on the bright side of a setback; it’s savoring; it’s not taking something or someone for granted; and it’s appreciation. What are you thankful for? Can you think of someone you work with whose efforts have gone under-appreciated? Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of "The How of Happiness," writes that people who are consistently grateful are generally happier, more energetic, tend to be more helpful and are more forgiving.

2. Stick it to stress. Some stress is good for you, but it can quickly spiral out of control. According to Catalyst Quick Takes, worker stress is estimated to cost American businesses between $50-300 billion annually in health care and lost job productivity. Meditating, exercising, working on a hobby or playing with the family pet are all good ways to reduce stress levels.

3. Being disconnected from people and pursuing activities that aren’t meaningful are two balance busters. What activities do you have scheduled right now that you are not connected to in a meaningful way? Could you use that extra time to visit with family or reconnect with an old friend? We often say “yes” to make other people happy at the expense of our own satisfaction and well-being, but I promise you that your friends will still like you if you decide not to attend that new belly dancing jazzercise class. Saying “no” is not a bad thing – it’s your best tool for setting precious boundaries around your time.

4. Establish a minimum standard for decisions.  According to Barry Schwartz, author of "The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More," the sheer number of choices we have about everything in today’s world depletes our satisfaction. When it comes to making a decision about something during your day (where to eat, what to wear, what new appliance to buy), establish your minimum standard and then choose the first option that meets that standard. Perfecting every decision (called “maximizing”) robs you of valuable time and energy.

5. Ask for help. We often use our busyness as a badge of honor and take pride in saying we can juggle more than the next person. Review each of your to-do items and ask yourself, “Who could help me with this?”

Changing your habits or adding new procedures to your established routines won’t happen overnight. Start with these small steps and celebrate success as you establish new routines. Gradually, more balance will be waiting right around the corner.

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