There are major areas in your life that when left unattended can lead to a lack of balance and prevent you from full life satisfaction. You can be a victim to a lack of awareness regarding these areas and suffer from physical or emotional symptoms including anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, abdominal complaints, and reduce productivity (due to unconscious distractions.) With awareness and action you can use your new balance to be more productive, prosperous and healthy.
Find the 8 essential areas of your life and learn to honor the ones that you do not make time for in your life. This will help to re-prioritize your life and give you greater balance as you pursue your long term goals and aspirations. The 8 essential life areas include: career, finance, family, friends/relationships, education/life long learning, health, creativity/aesthetic, and honoring the spirit. If you do not have a plan for honoring each of these 8 areas then you may not have balance and may have to fight to sustain emotional and physical health and well-being.
The first two areas are obvious and many people spend time and energy working to fulfill these areas. Career relates to your work and the satisfaction that you may achieve through being productive. Many people need to address their work/career if they find themselves under-satisfied by the job that they are employed to do. Training and mentoring can lead to more appropriate career paths. Finance includes current and future plans for financial stability and security. Long term planning is required and impulse control is necessary to help maintain your long-term planning until you achieve your financial goals. There is a great deal of support regarding these two areas and so society tends to focus on these areas but these do always provide life balance or satisfaction by themselves.
“Family” is an area that relates to the closest relationships that we have. The importance of having close ties to your family can vary a lot. Some people require large amounts of contact with parents, siblings, and children. If this were true for you, you have to make time to maintain these relationships. Some people are not as connected or attached to these close family relationships and so they may require less time and attention to maintain their balance. Career and other life distractions can move this area to a seemingly lower priority but this can be a huge mistake and in some cultures, family, is the highest priority. This support is very important and should not be shuffled to lower priorities. If you neglect this area, you may suffer emotionally and physically. Remember that “quality” of time with family is more important than quantity. Do not miss your opportunities for good, close connections even if your schedule is an issue.
“Friends/Relationships” like family are important, but individual needs vary. Time with chosen, “healthy” friends is important. This support both giving and receiving is critical for most humans. These are relationships that can be as intimate as husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or intense coupling that seems born into our genetic code. When your life is tested by change or tragedy, close, healthy friends and relationships can be critical. Time in your life may need to be allocated to find, build, and maintain these relationships. We all have different levels of needs. Remember that the quality of these contacts is more important than quantity, though people with need for drama in their lives may want to argue about the need to quantity of time for relationships.
“Life-long learning” is the pursuit of knowledge or wisdom that allows you to move forward in your life. Sometimes it is specific to career development but it can also relate to information that can allow for better decision making or following a passion in your life. To not expand your knowledge can lead to a weakening of memory. Studies have proven that an active mind is less likely to suffer of the early onset challenges like dementia. Life is more interesting when you challenge yourself to expand consciousness and information.
“Health” is a “no-brainer” when it comes to balance and life satisfaction. Investing time and energy in keeping fit and eating “right” is an individual but necessary requirement for the most productive life. Bad habits can, and should, be changed, either reduced or eliminated. Substance abuse is a very temporary distraction from pain or anxiety (fear-anger) and does not offer long-term solutions but can lead to long-term impairments. Challenges can “run” in families but this is no excuse for caving in as a victim to poor health. Time spent on health and wellness actually saves you time and money, in the long run. Companies who tract wellness programs often find a cost benefit of $5, or more, for every $1 spent on wellness. This is true for the quality of your life and even your levels of productivity. DO NOT USE “no time” as an excuse. You will save time by practicing stress management, getting regular exercise, and eating better.
“Creativity and Aesthetic” pursuits are not simply producing arts and crafts. Not everyone has talent for this type of creative endeavor. Everyone does have an appreciation for some form of art or natural beauty and we must invest resources in finding the activities that touch your aesthetic needs. Maybe a hike or trip to a museum will meet your requirements and give you balance. Planning a once a month visit to experience a beautiful natural environment or man-made work of art, or going to a performance, or listening to uplifting music can all qualify for creating satisfaction in this area. Being distracted by TV, video games, or movies may not be enough… Exploring your requirements for quality aesthetic exposure is important and is often ignored, with poor long-term results in life satisfaction.
Finally, “Honoring the Spirit” is an area that requires attention. There may be an over-lap with attending to aesthetic or creative pursuits because pursuing the spiritual requirements may have more to do with feeling good in your heart than chasing a philosophy. So religion or religious pursuits do not always involve the true celebration of spirit. Religion can be cerebral or political in ways that may feed the mind but not always the soul/spirit. Do not take this area lightly. When you do not know how to nourish your true spirit you run the risk of having fears and anxieties about important transitions like death/dying, parenting, or aging that when left unresolved can lead to serious emotional imbalance. Everyone has different requirements for honoring or celebrating spirit. Do not fall into the trap of taking on someone else’s belief. FIND YOUR OWN PATH.
If you are unclear how to pursue engaging in any of these areas in your own life, consider finding a mentor or life coach who you can trust to assist you at examining the specific needs you may have in your unique situation and life. If you need assistance, consider the Stress Education Center for this life coaching (www.dstress.com.) But remember, honor your own needs and find a way to incorporate these areas into your life. Life satisfaction may be the biggest and best reward. Take good care of yourself.