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Life Balance--Unrealistic Expectations?

Defining your own life balance

by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN  |  9138 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

Life balance seems to be a big topic these days. We are all striving to achieve it, but what exactly is it? Is there a black and white definition? For some of us it can lead us to believe we should be living in a utopia state of mind where each category of our life is running smoothly. However, we may be setting the bar too high. The idea that our lives can be in perfect balance may be an unrealistic expectation because as we all know, life is full of ups and downs. Just when you think you are in perfect balance something unexpected happens; work issues, illness, children, and ever-changing schedules.

On the other side, striving for some balance seems important so we don't lose our sanity. What if we each had our own definition of life balance? One that could meet our expectations. Maybe our goal could be to take steps towards balancing certain areas of our lives so they don't get too crazy, overwhelming, and negative.

For example, let's say you started a new and exciting career path. This new career path demands more of your time at work which is great for your career, but gives you less time to spend with your family causing stress for you and them. So let's say on a scale of 1-10 your work life is a 10 but family life has fallen to a 2. This can easily lead you down a path of guilt, frustration, and feeling overwhelmed.

To avoid going down this path, look around to other things you can change to restore some balance. Perhaps you hire someone to clean your house, or hire a personal assistant to run your errands, or delegate an hour on the weekend where everyone tackles their chores so you can set up a great family outing in the afternoon. These are just some ideas. By making some changes, in this case delegating some of the not so important tasks to someone else, it frees up more quality time to spend with your family moving your family life rating from a 2 to maybe a 6. It is still not perfect balance but it's enough to help you and your family to have more quality time and decrease some of the stress.

This is just one example. Life can become overwhelming when any one area of our lives becomes stressful. The goal can be to simply take small steps to make things a little more manageable instead of allowing overwhelm to strike. It allows us to define a balanced life for ourselves instead of trying to meet expectations set up by the outside world.

Go through the following exercise to see how your life balance stacks up to your standards. Rate each area 1-10 and see if there are any small steps you can take to help restore some balance to the low rating areas. This is a good exercise to do periodically especially when life throws you a curve ball.

About the Author

Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian, and a columnist for Work It, Mom! and the founder of Real Living Nutrition Services, an online weight loss program that empowers people to make small changes s

Read more by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN

1 comment so far...

  • I always think of 'balance' more in terms of trying to make sure that how I spend my time (a very limited resource) is in line with my values and priorities.

    Values tend to be long term, and lead to things like getting help with the laundry/housework, etc. Whereas, my priorities for any given week can shift if my daughter or husband need more time, I am feeling stressed, or work needs some special attention. I have even acknowledged that some weeks I need to spend some extra time on the house because we are hosting for an upcoming holiday or the overall clutter is getting to me.

    This allows me to align how I am spending time with what is truly important to me, and that leads to much less stress. And, although I tend to map out my week in advance, I allow the time alotted to different activities each week to vary according to needs and my energy levels.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Aimers on 2nd April 2008