“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Where are you going in life? Are you on the right path? It’s an important question to ask yourself and you may be surprised at the answer. Without purpose or direction we become stagnant and feel empty. Have you considered what you value most in life? If you don’t know, then you may end up on the wrong path.
It can be a challenge in our busy lives to achieve balance when it comes to family life, career, and health. However, if you don’t know where you’re going, you may find yourself at some point in life, full of regrets.
Stop spinning your wheels and write down an action oriented plan with specific goals that will help you live your best life.
One way to think about work-life balance is with a concept known as The Four Burners Theory. Here’s how it was first explained to me:
Imagine that your life is represented by a stove with four burners on it. Each burner symbolizes one major quadrant of your life.
- The first burner represents your family.
- The second burner is your friends.
- The third burner is your health.
- The fourth burner is your work.
One of the most frustrating parts of The Four Burners Theory is that it shines a light on your untapped potential. It can be easy to think, “If only I had more time, I could make more money or get in shape or spend more time at home.”
One way to manage this problem is to shift your focus from wishing you had more time to maximizing the time you have. In other words, you embrace your limitations. The question to ask yourself is, “Assuming a particular set of constraints, how can I be as effective as possible?”
- Assuming I can only work from 9 AM to 5 PM, how can I make the most money possible?
- Assuming I can only write for 15 minutes each day, how can I finish my book as fast as possible?
- Assuming I can only exercise for 3 hours each week, how can I get in the best shape possible?
This line of questioning pulls your focus toward something positive (getting the most out of what you have available) rather than something negative (worrying about never having enough time). Furthermore, well-designed limitations can actually improve your performance and help you stop procrastinating on your goals.
Consider writing down a small goal for each area of your life that you feel needs improvement. Here are some ideas:
Relationships– Take time each day to tell your loved ones how much you care for them. Set restraints on social media and use that time to spend with your family. Get in the habit of giving hugs more often. Read books, play board games, or put puzzles together with your children each week. Try and set up a consistent schedule to call your parents, siblings, and friends. Create special memories!
Career- This is a biggie! We all need to make money to live but if you hate your job, you will most likely be miserable. Let’s face it, we spend a lot of time at work so it’s vital to find something that is compatible with your family life. Also, if you have small children, you will regret working 60 or more hours a week. That’s precious time away from loved ones that you will never get back. Consider your options for another job with better hours or maybe a work from home option. Set a goal to improve this area of your life by determining the pros and cons of your current working situation and where you can make small positive changes.
Health- This is an area many of us end up sacrificing due to time restraints. However, it’s easy to set just one or two weekly goals that can make a substantial difference in your health. Number one is the food you bring into your home. Learn to make healthier food choices when shopping for groceries. It’s important for your children to learn the relationship between their health and what they eat. Take them shopping with you and let them make their own grocery list of healthy food choices. Restrict splurges on fast food to special circumstances or occasions. Additionally, consider how you can add activity into your day? Ride a bike or walk to work if that’s an option.
Set your alarm an hour early and get your workouts on your calendar. Even a ten minute workout once or twice a day can make a difference. Determine specific days and times each week for physical fitness and stay consistent. You will never regret this.
Consider what you value most in life and make a plan to make sure you take the right path. Because if you don’t know where you’re going than it doesn’t really matter.