Exactly How To Measure Your Work-Life Balance So You Can Live A Happy, Fulfilled Life

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How To Be Happy By Achieving The Best Work Life Balance

We all want to know how to be happy in life and the secret to the best work-life balance practice.

Looking at titles of lead articles featured prominently on the front cover of popular magazines, it’s hard not to notice the proliferation of pieces that have to do with the importance of living a balanced life.

These articles usually warn the reader of the dangers of imbalance and often provide suggestions for how to organize your time in ways that are designed to solve the problems caused by imbalances in your life, career, home, family, friends, and so forth.

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While these suggestions can be very helpful to many people, others may feel like tips and techniques for more effective time management and finding happiness don’t quite do it for them (many of whom I've personally spoken with feel this way).

These feelings are quite understandable.

As many of us have learned from experience, knowing what you "should" do or what you've been told you "need to do" isn’t always enough to get yourself back on track to what it is that you really want to do to live a happy life.

There are reasons (called competing commitments) that have created the life structure you have today. There are, after all, a finite amount of hours each day and all human beings have a finite amount of time and energy to give to the time that we are allotted.

And while our resources for fulfilling our desires are limited, our desires themselves are unlimited and often far exceed our abilities to fulfill them.

This means that for most of us, the work has more to do with discerning the essential from the non-essential and challenging the cultural myth that "you can have it all."

The truth is you can’t — have all of your desires fulfilled, that is.

What you can have is a clear understanding of which areas of your life are being adequately addressed and which require more attention, and then get to work to put things in balance.

Life balance doesn’t mean that you put an equal amount of time and energy into each domain, but rather that the needs of each essential area of your life are being adequately met.

Below is a list of life domains as well as a very brief description of what constitutes each one. As you review this list, reflect upon the degree to which you feel each one is being met in your life. Then, rate each one on a scale of 0-10.

Zero means that this domain is being completely neglected, is on life support, and is in need of intensive and immediate, extensive attention. Ten means that it’s getting as much attention as it needs.

If any domain is getting an excessive amount of time and/or attention, you might want to transfer some of what you're currently putting into it, into another domain, one that needs more.

An excess of attention in one area usually means a deficiency in another or the others.

With that, here are those 14 areas you need to pay attention to so you can figure out how to be happy with the right work-life balance for you.

1. Health

The well-being of your physical body includes paying close attention to your eating practices, weight loss or gain, rest, relaxation and replenishment, and overall fitness.

2. Family

Make sure you spend time together for emotional connection, relaxation, play, interactive activities, and the fulfillment of shared responsibilities.

3. Spirituality

Take time for prayer, worship, spiritual practice, meditation, retreats, time in nature.

4. Learning

This includes getting an education to obtain degrees and informal development of skills and bodies of knowledge.

5. Primary relationship

Commit to your marriage and romantic and/or committed partnerships.

6. Sexuality

Pay attention to the quantity and quality of your sensual and sexual experience.

7. Play

Recreation, travel, adventure, sports, and activities with no purpose beyond the enjoyment of the activity itself are important to your overall happiness and life satisfaction.

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8. Creative expression

Take part in any practice or activity that involves originality and creativity, such as singing, dancing, artwork, writing, inventing, designing, acting, cooking, and gardening.

9. Emotional well-being

Invest in some inner healing, self-esteem building, recovering personal power and authority, and strengthening self-trust.

10. Career

You can experience a sense of meaning, satisfaction, fulfillment, and purpose through work.

11. Finances

Make sure you have adequate savings and income for debt payoff, emergency funds, and a sense of material security.

12. Friendship

Mutually fulfilling, trustworthy, and dependable relationships with people other than relatives are just as important as your relationship with your family.

13. Home

The degree of comfort, beauty, and security in your living situation contributes to overall happiness.

14. Service

Social contribution enhances the greater good of others.

While this list may or may not be seen as complete by everyone, it provides a good "starter kit" that identifies many of the areas of life that need to be fulfilled in order for us to experience a high level of balance and well-being in life.

Balance isn’t about equal attention to each domain, but rather adequate or sufficient attention to each one. The answer to the question, "How much is enough?" is highly subjective and dependent upon the predisposition of each individual.

When we share a committed partnership with another person, it becomes necessary to consider each other’s values and orientations, which not infrequently are different.

The challenge, in these cases, is to be mindful of our partner’s needs without neglecting or sacrificing our own.

While this can be a daunting task, when a foundation of goodwill and trust is established, this can not only be accomplished without excessive stress but can enhance and deepen the connection that both partners share.

Keep in mind that if any of your scores are less than ten, you’ve got work to do. As good as things may be, they can always be better. And as difficult as things sometimes seem to be, there are always steps that we can take to move in the right direction.

Change usually is much more likely to come in small, incremental stages rather than huge, dramatic breakthroughs. So, aim to live your life as a happier person.

Like they say about a journey of a thousand miles, it starts with a single step.

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Linda Bloom, LCSW, and Charlie Bloom, MSW, are psychotherapists and relationship counselors who have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975. To learn more, visit their website, Bloom Work.

This article was originally published at PsychCentral. Reprinted with permission from the author.