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Beyond the Illusion of Balance: Why Prioritizing Our Values Is the Key to Success

We often talk about the “work-life balance” as the holy grail of a successful life, but the truth is that our work is just one piece of the puzzle. It is an essential component, of course; however, this superficial pursuit of balance can often lead to unnecessary stress, unhealthy habits, and a lack of fulfillment in all areas of our lives - personally and professionally. Therefore, finding time for our personal values such as self-care, relationships, and other passions is equally important as our professional values, like our job responsibilities and establishing a career.

The key is to embrace the fact that life is multi-faceted and everyone’s journey is unique, so it’s up to us to prioritize our values. Prioritizing our values means getting clear on what matters most to us. We all can fall victim to the monotony of life, so when we prioritize our lives based on our values instead of attempting to achieve work-life balance, our focus shifts to creating alignment between our professional and personal lives. It allows us to be more present and focused, which brings a sense of purpose and creates more space for peace and joy. Connecting to our values helps us identify what we truly want and allows us to consciously choose how we invest our time, energy, and resources moving forward. 

Here are the steps that I consistently find success with whenever I find myself struggling to juggle it all:

  1. Have a clear focus.

The amount of media and tasks demanding our constant attention can be overwhelming, making it even more challenging to be creative or productive. I start by listing the various areas of my life and include a long-term vision and a short-term goal for each domain:

  • Health & Fitness

  • Contribution & Service

  • Spirituality

  • Career

  • Finances

  • Friends & Family

  • Marriage/Love & Romance

  • Fun & Rec

  1. Prioritize self-care.

Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is paramount in maintaining a healthy well-rounded life. Incorporating mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga, into your routine can help reduce stress and improve focus. Additionally, dedicating time for self-care activities, such as exercise, hobbies, or simply relaxing, is crucial for recharging and maintaining motivation.

In those seasons where focusing on 8 domains feels overwhelming (we all have them!), I stick to Health & Fitness, Contribution & Service, and Spirituality. Whenever I take intentional care of my body, mind, and spirit and contribute to others, the benefits ripple outward and I notice improvements in other areas every time. 

And of course, I can never recommend therapy enough. 

  1. Keep a schedule.

An effective way to reach our goals is to outline our commitments and schedule our activities in advance. Identify the most important tasks and allocate dedicated time for them in your calendar. It's important to note that prioritizing our values does not mean being careless with our professional duties or disregarding them altogether. It means striving for integrative alignment between all areas of our lives by finding creative ways to intertwine them so that they can coexist in harmony. This includes not only work-related responsibilities but also personal tasks, self-care, and quality time with loved ones. By setting clear deadlines and creating a realistic schedule, you can ensure that both your personal and professional needs are being met.

  1. Communicate and have set boundaries.

Communicating openly with your coworkers, supervisors and family about your priorities and commitments allows everyone to better manage expectations and ask for support when needed. Establishing clear boundaries is also crucial in maintaining a healthy balance between personal and professional time. This means learning to say “no” to additional work tasks when necessary and setting limits on the time you dedicate to work outside of regular hours. Similarly, setting boundaries with personal chores and hobbies can help create space for focused work time. Whether it’s designating specific work hours or unplugging from technology during personal time, boundaries are essential for preventing burnout and preserving our relationships and personal well-being.

  1. Practice flexibility and grace.

The post-pandemic world has become a lot more dynamic and embracing flexibility is essential. Utilizing flexible work arrangements or working remotely can significantly increase the time available to tend to personal responsibilities without sacrificing professional productivity. 

Finding the balance between personal and professional time is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, adaptability, and a willingness to prioritize your well-being. Remember, balance looks different for everyone, and it’s important to continually reassess and adjust your approach as your personal and professional circumstances evolve. It’s important to acknowledge that not every person is experiencing the same level of privilege or adversity, which also contributes to how we manage our lives. Ultimately, by prioritizing our values rather than striving for a balance that is almost impossible to achieve, we can live a life that is empowered, joyful, and purposeful and one that brings us closer to achieving our goals and making our dreams come true.

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