I grimace when people mention dreaming of “work-life balance,” as if that’s a thing. When people say “work-life balance,” in my world, what they are really saying is…wait for it…
They wish they were putting some time towards something they are currently ignoring.
At least, I did. Want to know what some of my favorite excuses were for avoiding what was really important to me, like envisioning a new career, rekindling my marriage, or exercising regularly? Yes, those little things:
- “I’ll get to it when I have time.”
- “I’m not ready yet.”
- “I’m too busy.”
- “I’m overwhelmed.”
- “I must not really care about it.”
Are any of those your go-to’s too? I really believed these were good enough reasons to avoid my most heartfelt dreams, until things got so painful in my life that I had to do something!
It is a plague of a good many of us good humans to focus on what brings us approval or instant gratification vs. the things that would make us deeply happy and proud, from the inside out. And when I say instant gratification I don’t just mean the “scroll hole” or TV or idle chat, I also mean doing endless work or household chores because we think we should or have to. Most of us fill our days with these activities not questioning the opportunity cost. Not questioning if how we are spending our precious 24 hours a day is really aligned with our highest ideals. And sadly, simultaneously, thinking it’s not even possible.
Well, it IS possible.
It is possible to design your days, weeks, months and years in keeping with what is most important to you and to get others on board to support it. I am living proof (though, admittedly, it took me awhile and a lot of help)!
Here’s my life in a nutshell:
I love my job and work about 55 hours a week, focused on what I consider to be the most fun/productive things I can provide for my company. I have three kids ages 6 to18 whom I enjoy hanging with and a husband whom I still get intimate with physically and emotionally, on a regular basis. I have a home to care for and a body I work out five times a week. I do spiritual practice daily, usually two times a day, and I leave at least seven hours for sleep each night.
Sound like a lot?
It is. EXCEPT, it all fits in my 168-hour week as long as I stay connected to my heart and follow my plan. Everything in my calendar reflects a dream I have for every area of my life I’m focused on for the year. And, here’s the clincher, for the most part (come on, I’m human!): I follow my calendar!
If you want to start living truer to your dreams, you can start with one very simple step:
Put into your schedule, in real time, the thing you most wish you would spend time doing! The one you’re avoiding, wishing(ish) you weren’t.
Here are the most common things people report forsaking:
- Healthy eating/meal planning
- Spiritual practice
- Dating for real
- Clutter clearing
- Creative projects
- Refreshing your resume
- Starting your side hustle
- Writing your business plan
- Reconnecting with family or partners
- Connecting with friends/community
Whether it was New Year’s Eve or some other poor, random “Monday” (they both take all the heat), you’ve probably made some sincere attempts before, hoping the desire to do more of something would win the day. Truth be told, if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, many of our heartfelt dreams are losing the battle because of…a lack of accountability.
In my life before Handel Group, I used to exercise only if I felt like it. I’d do spiritual practice if I “had time.” And I would wait to connect with other people until they reached out to me. In other words, none of my highest ideals for myself were a regular part of my life. I had no accountability.
Here’s the simple formula that changed everything:
- Make a promise
- Add a self-imposed annoying immediate consequence if you don’t keep the promise
- Go public with your promise and consequence
- Get an accountability buddy
There are 3 kinds of promises you can make:
- HOW you do something: I will eat 50% vegetables at every meal, I will take the stairs whenever possible, I will write for 30 minutes as soon as I get up.
- WHEN you do something: I will have date night every Friday 8-10pm. I will be on dating sites every morning 7:30-8:00am. I will volunteer each weekend at my place of worship.
- BY WHEN you’ll do something: I will declutter and clear my garage by June 1. I will have my business plan sent to a friend for feedback by May 15. I will do five 30-min workouts each week by Sunday night.
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Once you make your promise, tell anyone and everyone who will listen, but pick a specific person to hold you accountable daily, and send them a text or email daily letting them know if you kept your promise.
Did I mention DAILY?
This chosen person is also the one who will “hold you to your consequence,” so make sure you pick someone worthy of this special duty. They have to be fun enough to enjoy playing with, but also serious (and loving enough) to hold you to your promises and consequences, and remind you of your dreams, even when you want to brat or chicken out!
Don’t make the consequence a punishment, make it silly but annoying enough to have the power to deter you from breaking your promise. Make sure your buddy gets the whole idea that consequences aren’t to make you feel bad, but the opposite. They make promises a drama- and excuse-free zone! No need to feel bad if you blow it. Who needs more of that?! Just pay your consequence and make a better plan next time!
For example: If I don’t keep to my food plan one day, I lose my dessert the next day. If I don’t show up to my nightly “slumber party” meeting with my husband on time, I owe 100 pushups. Many clients have great success with the “no coffee until I meditate” rule. Some more examples: If I don’t spend 30 minutes/day on the dating sites earnestly looking, I have to ask 3 friends to set me up the next day. If I don’t finish X project, there will be no screen entertainment until I do.
You get the idea! What’s yours going to be? Who are you going to buddy up with for accountability?
Want even more accountability? Sign up for Inner.U LIFE. Let us give you the coaching, tools, exercises, buddy system, and free class to make this all stick! This is what we’ve been teaching humans – from CEOs to stay-at-home dads to artists to, to, to – for years. The principles are universal and they work as soon as you start using them.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at this TIMELY post of one of my client’s:
“After 3 years of debilitating anxiety 24:7, I started with the end in mind. With what I’d want in my obituary and how I’d want to be remembered. And then I got cracking on all the layers of bullshit I’d need to expunge. So here I am: heart on my calendar. Every hour accounted for. Every single day filled with things that give me pure joy and energy. Designing my thoughts. Practicing what I preach, as much as I can (still human). Doing the things I care about. What are you doing with your time?”
Seeeee. Time can be more than balanceable, it can be on your dream’s team.