How to Achieve Work-Life Balance

When we leave the office for the day, most of us struggle with not bringing work home. We check our cell phones at the dinner table or constantly go over to-do lists in our head. The answer is work-life balance; a concept where individuals equally manage their time between their work and personal life. Although most of us are just focused on getting from one day to the next, balance is possible.  All you need is a plan and good old-fashioned discipline.
In order to achieve balance, we can no longer let our day happen to us. Instead of doing whatever feels right in the moment, we need to compartmentalize our lives. Do not let work and play overlap. Remember that you are in control.  That being said, you need a strategy for the day. I suggest starting with the end in mind. Ask yourself, “When the year is over, what would I like to achieve?” If you start with the big picture and break it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals, you are creating the level of urgency to get your desired results.
Another suggestion to create work-life balance is to keep your emotions in check. We tend to be happy in the environment we are currently in. For example, if you are up against a deadline at work, you can forget your daughter at home waiting for a ride to dance class. And if you are at home, you might not want to finish up that work assignment because you are comfortable on the couch. You may not think emotions can sway you but they are the driving force in your decision-making. Devise your schedule and stick to it.
With the advent of technology, it is easier than ever to take work home. We can check our email anywhere. Text messages are ongoing. We become so addicted to the rush of instant communication that we are no longer present in the moment. Even though your body is present, does not mean that you are engaged. Let’s say you are watching your son’s Little League game and he looks up to see that you are staring at your smartphone screen instead of his home run. He may feel dejected.
Most of us work hard to support our loved ones but we must continually check in with ourselves to see if we are doing what is best for the family. If you are never truly present, your family suffers.
If you decide to bring work home, realize that it changes the dynamic of the house. If you are working in the living room and tell your kids to be quiet, they can no longer jump and play carefree. You have deemed their safe zone “the office.”
I recently started turning my phone off for a few hours each day. I now have more peace in my life. I am not as stressed because constantly having that phone in my hand put my physical chemistry on alert. It is easier to enjoy my life for those few hours because I am not anticipating anything else. I can just be.  
If you are someone who does not know if you are balanced, ask someone. Question your spouse or friend about whether you are preoccupied with work. Allow them to answer freely. Resist the urge to become defensive.
You may think that work-life balance is just for people with families but that is not the case. If you are single or have no kids, it is easy to throw yourself into work and desert friends or hobbies. If you feel that your life is lacking, filling the void with busy work will not solve your problems.
Juggling work and your personal life is difficult but you may have been doing it for years. You wonder, why should I change? But probably already experiencing the consequences of imbalance. Symptoms include depression, fatigue, feeling unaccomplished or unsuccessful.
Work-life balance is in your reach. It just takes mindful focus and a long- term goal. You can do it. Just remember what you are working for.

Motivation: What is it, how to get it and how to keep it

Millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking or save money. But as April rolls around, the resolutions you were so excited about have withered into empty promises. Do not give up. Self-improvement is essential to your physical, mental and spiritual growth. You just need the one tool that will allow you to make lasting changes: motivation.

Motivation is a need or desire that causes a person to act. Countless self-help books are devoted to the subject, yet we still have trouble finding and maintaining our motivation. For example, if your jeans are tight, you might be motivated to lose five pounds. But that is probably not enough to keep the weight off long term. Our drive to lose weight, even if it’s as simple as saying no to French fries, wanes because we aren’t passionate about why we want to achieve this goal. The truth is that motivation is not enough. Our goals must inspire and shock us into change. If we have tried and failed in the past, we must look at our goal from a different perspective.

Let me share a personal story. I used to love barbeque pork sandwiches. One day, I ate about six sandwiches in a few hours. I started to feel sick and dizzy – the same symptoms my father had when he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. He also loved those sandwiches but he ultimately passed away due to, among other things, heart problems. I knew that I didn’t want to follow in his footsteps. I needed to change. My urge to eat my favorite sandwich was strong, so I needed an equally powerful motivation. Instead of connecting my sickness to high blood pressure, I connected it to death. That was the last time I ate pork. Your motivation must be strong enough to call you to action.

If not acted upon, a goal is merely a glorified wish. You must be intellectually stimulated by your goal, which can be done by reframing your thinking. Stimulation is information or knowledge that penetrate your core values. Your mind should not be able to get away from it. It must make you want to stand up and say, “I have to do something about this,” because the consequences are so dire. That is how to get motivated.

Maintaining your motivation is another story. Sometimes we overwhelm ourselves by changing too much at once. Start by changing your environment. If your kitchen cabinets are stocked with cookies and refrigerator is full of beer, you are going to have a hard time avoiding those items. Throw them all out if you can’t resist temptation but others prefer moderation as opposed to an all-or-nothing outlook. Try having two beers instead of four, and then work your way down to having none if that is your ultimate goal. The key is to change your routine, even if you start with baby steps. These small changes add up and can last a lifetime.

It is very common to see a loved one lacking motivation but in desperate need of change. I encourage you to challenge their status quo. Let them know that they are treasured and add value to your life. They will be honored to see a positive and hopeful side of themselves in your eyes. When people are in a dark place, they need to see themselves in a new light. They seek new perspective on their situation. In most circumstances, it is not as bad as they think. Energize their souls with the prospect of lasting change.

Most people lose motivation because they are either bored with the self-improvement process or disappointed with the results. Eating carrot sticks is certainly not as fun as eating a burger. Even if you did forgo your favorite food, maybe you are sad to see the weight isn’t coming off as quickly as you’d hoped. Alternatively, you’ve lost a lot of weight and the newfound attention you are getting makes you uncomfortable. Be patient with yourself. Remember that achieving your goals will make you happier in the long run but it takes work. Motivation helps to fuel the fire but it is your day-to-day efforts that will get you to your goal.

Enjoy the ride.