Quiz time: How balanced is your life?
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How does your wheel look?
Congratulations – you have mastered the unique art of balancing work with your personal life! You appear to dedicate an equal amount of time to all areas of your life. This takes self-awareness, organisation, and commitment. While everything is currently aligned perfectly, don’t panic if this isn’t always the case – sometimes we need to let things go out of balance so that we can attend to the priority in hand.
From time to time, it’s OK for things to be off-kilter – just ensure you keep making time for the most important parts of your life.
Action: Complete the Wheel of Life exercise every three to six months to check you’re still on track. If you see one area taking over, or another being sacrificed, consider a couple of actions you could take to rectify the balance.
SMALL BUT ROUND
This shape of Wheel would usually suggest that you’re satisfied with very few, if any, areas of your life. Just like the shape of your Wheel, you may feel life is hemming you in, and that little is going well. q
Action: Consider which two areas might have the biggest impact on your happiness and focus on improving those scores.
Your Wheel might become a bit ‘spiky’ in the interim, as some areas change and others don’t, but adjusting these priority areas should have a positive knock-on effect. So, committing to a ‘date night’ once a week could improve your relationship, for example. Sometimes we need to take a good hard look at our lives and implement change. This is a wake up call.
You’re in for a bumpy ride but don’t worry, this shape of Wheel is very common. Some areas might score highly, with other areas receiving scores of four and under.
This is because we often prioritise areas such as career and health & fitness, leaving little time for fun and close relationships.
Action: Consider where to let go of one thing you do in a high scoring area to make room for an action related to a low scoring area. For example, could you sacrifice one evening at the gym for seeing your family or friends, or going on a date?
Alternatively, rather than seeing friends every evening or weekend, what could you do to improve your fitness or personal growth? One area might come down in score, but with one area coming up as a result, you’re achieving a broader sense of balance.
NO RESEMBLANCE TO A WHEEL WHATSOEVER
Well, the good news is that there’s definitely room for improvement. It might be that some areas of your life are scoring low but that, actually, you’re quite happy with them. If this is the case, re-adjust your score so that it’s higher and reflects your overall level of satisfaction, then re-assess the shape of your Wheel.
If this is not the case, and things are genuinely out of the sync for you, then something needs to change.
Perhaps you feel tied-in to a certain responsibility which leaves little space for other areas in your life. Each day may feel like a struggle. It can be hard to know where to start with changing things. But, with a little focus, planning, and prioritisation, things can improve fairly quickly.
Action: Look at all the areas on your Wheel – rather than trying to address all the areas at once, pinpoint the area that, if changes were made, it would have the biggest impact on you. Perhaps it’s the linchpin to improving your scores in all the other areas. For example, if you changed job, would it free up more time to focus on your personal life, allow you to grow, and improve your long-term finances, all at once?
What small steps can you take in the next three weeks, which would help you start making changes in the life area you’ve identified?
‘I DON’T HAVE THE TIME’
If this is the case, it’s because you’re not making time. You’re prioritising certain things over others – it’s as simple as that. If fitness was important to you, you would fit it in.
For example, you choose to spend those extra hours at work, no one is forcing you to. It might be because you have a strong work ethic where you feel you have to complete everything before you go home, or because you have been asked to take on yet another project. Remember that these are active choices you are making to prioritise work over the other areas of your life.
There is still room for change, however, should you want to. Just one early morning, evening, or weekend dedicated to another area of your life can work wonders in gaining a work/life balance. Highly successful and time-poor individuals still manage to find and create time for fitness, friends, and personal growth, so there are no excuses.
Each week, using a calendar, allocate specific time slots to the things you’d like to build into your life e.g. an exercise class at 6.30pm on a Tuesday; friends over for dinner on a Thursday. Say ‘no’ to anything that comes up at those times – say you’re not available.
‘IT’S IMPORTANT TO BALANCE WORK AND LIFE EQUALLY’
One school of thought is that, actually, to balance your working lives equally with your personal goals is just not achievable anymore. Gone are the days where you work 9 to 5, exercise after work, and return home for dinner with family or friends. Work is slowly creeping in to all hours of the day, with heavier workloads and mobile technology meaning most people are expected to be on call every waking hour, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. You are likely to be prioritising your career more than ever, as you attach it more and more with your identity and status.
Perhaps, then, the concept of work-life balance is dead, and it takes a finely tuned ability to integrate these two areas of your life. As boundaries between work and play blur more, you need to acquire the mental agility to switch between the two.
‘IT’S POSSIBLE TO FIT EVERYTHING IN’
Psychologist Abraham Maslow identified in the 1940s human beings’ intrinsic need to strive towards full self-actualisation, where ‘what a man can be, he must be.’ You place a lot of pressure on yourself to fulfil your utmost potential, including the perfect balance between performing your best at work, and in your personal life. However, despite all of the above advice, it is sometimes impossible to fit absolutely everything in.
When you’re trying to achieve your best in everything you do, fitting it all in, it can lead to burn-out. Perhaps you’ll prioritise one or two areas for six months, then another for the next six. Only change things if you’re unhappy. After all, if the Wheel ain’t broke, why fix it?
FIND YOUR BALANCE
How to get more balance in your life today
1. If you’re short on time, combine exercise with socialising. For example, climbing, cycling, or salsa dancing are great for fitness but also very sociable.
2. Pay upfront for an activity or class. You’re more likely to leave work on time and commit to going if you’ve already paid for it.
3. Put in times to do nothing. Block out some space in your diary and say you’re ‘busy’ having some downtime.
4. Set yourself boundaries on when you’ll check emails and when you’ll reply. Stick to these, perhaps using your out of office to manage people’s expectations of when you’ll next be online.
5. Let go of what things ‘should’ look like. Spend your time doing things you want to do, not what you think you ought to be doing.
Read more: Take our attachment style quiz…
STRIKE A BALANCE
We asked Londoners how they view their work/life balance… with some interesting results