How to achieve work life balance by changing how you make decisions

Work life balance is today's true luxury. We show you how to rethink the concept of balance in your life to reach fulfillment in the areas that matter.

The Balance Myth

We live in a time where, over and over, we hear that the true path to happiness relies on work-life balance. The idea that if we are careful enough and keep ourselves perfectly scheduled and organized, we should be able to achieve our goals, personal and professional.

The media actually takes us on an entire narrative where we imagine finishing our work at a certain time, getting all of our personal errands done, fitting in our self care and enjoying evenings and weekends with our friends and families. This is the goal - and it is virtually impossible. Any day of the week, a number of problems can arise which throw our plans off course. Striving for this "perfect balance", in reality, is just a recipe for constant disappointment. That disappointment leads to feelings of inadequacy, guilt, lower confidence and lower levels of happiness. The opposite outcome!

There is another curious pattern that emerges. In response to the frustration of never reaching the elusive "balance" we are seeking, we begin to think differently. We start to say: "Well, if I can't achieve balance, let me at least do one thing really well. If I can achieve in this one area of life, it will make up for my losses everywhere else. Eventually, it will be worth it and it will all even out."

We see this everywhere. Whether we are overly controlling our eating or exercise, focusing entirely on work hoping that money will solve the problem, or avoiding the dreaded outcomes of our decisions by occupying our time with things we prefer doing.

The Two-Part Solution

At altruWisdom, we know that a complex problem is best approached by identifying the root causes and treating them individually.

  1. Setting priorities: Identify, at least in writing, what matters to you. Think of this as the legend you will use when decisions are difficult. Our priorities help us to make decisions that are more aligned with our long term goals. It doesn't mean they are better decisions, simply that they are the choices that will likely result in us choosing outcomes which are aligned with the goals we have already set out for ourselves.

  2. Accepting our decisions: The difficulty with decision making is the fear of choosing the wrong option. We feel anxious when we think about what could have been had we gone the other way. This is completely natural, but not very productive. The fact is, when a decision between two options is very hard, it is because the two options are very good. They each have many benefits. The trick here is acceptance. Make the decision and then accept your choice. This is possible by knowing that, regardless which choice you made, there are positives and negative outcomes that will arise, and that you will be able to handle them as they come. It eliminates the language of "right" and "wrong" choices.

The key to the system above is recognizing the true cost of indecision. When we teeter back and forth between options, we play out scenarios and it takes an emotional toll on us. As the indecision continues, we are faced with the guilt of procrastinating and we are not allowing ourselves the benefits of either one of the outcomes. We tell ourselves if only we had more time, or more resources, we wouldn't be faced with such difficult decisions, life would be easier, we would be happier. But would it really? A mother who stays home with her children faces guilt when she takes time for herself, same as a mother who works. An extra hour, or extra time for her would not take away the challenge of the decisions, nor would it alleviate her emotions in making them. The power here lies in the shift in perspective. Think of "I am so happy I have the privilege of choosing" instead of saying "Why do I always have to choose". Then, make the decision with confidence and INVEST in the choice you made. With your mind and your heart, commit to making that choice work best for you.

In you are willing to make changes in your life in order to achieve certain goals, we recommend starting by laying out your final destination and then planning backwards to determine which steps need to be taken to reach it. Allocate the appropriate and realistic time and resources to each of the areas you are hoping to succeed in and stick to the plan.

Check out our Be Your Own CEO Checklist to learn how to allocate your resources and build new positive habits.