Defining balance: A surprising strategy for creating a work and life balance that works for you

In our modern world of hectic schedules and digital technology, finding balance between work and life can seem elusive and unreachable; but whether we ever achieve perfect balance or not, even the pursuit of it can ease stress, reduce worry and offer us greater happiness.

Yet before you can bring work and life into harmony, you must first decide how you define a balanced life. Just as a CEO sets measurements to determine the success or failure of a project, you must set measurements to determine if you’re achieving your goals.

When defining what a balanced life looks like, your feelings matter; and they play a bigger role than you might realize. When we’re out of balance, we feel it. We experience stress when we’re overworked and self-recrimination when we don’t spend enough time with our families and passions.

Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul says that when it comes to setting goals, “Knowing how you want to feel is the most potent clarity you can have.”

Instead of setting a goal like attending all of your son’s football games, recognize what you want to feel in relationship to your son. Do you want to feel that you are supporting his passions? Do you want to feel the joy of seeing him succeed? Do you simply want to feel present in his life?

By recognizing why you want to go to all of your son’s games, you create the clearest standard of measurement available to you to determine the success or failure of your work and life balance: how you feel about it.

Creating metrics this precise gives you great flexibility to meet your goals. Because you understand that your desire is to feel present in your son’s life, you recognize that missing a game for an urgent work issue is okay. Instead, you allot time in your schedule to do something else with your son and you put out the inevitable fires that come from working in the “real world.”

Sometimes being honest about our feelings is difficult or uncomfortable, but the payoff of investing time into uncovering them will be worth the effort, because the more honest you can be with yourself about your feelings, the better standard of measurement you’ll create.