Idealism vs Pragmatism: Where The Rubber Meet the Road in Your Career Design ProcessSeptember 30, 2021
More with My Career Design Studio and Career Design EssentialsNovember 5, 2021
A balanced life. Isn’t that what we are all seeking? People often talk about wanting a balanced life but what that actually means to each of us is as individual as we are. Does a balanced life mean eight hours of sleep, exercising daily, working forty hours a week, spending time with family and friends? If you’ve been going through the career design process, you know that finding a balanced life is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. What works in a research study, or for your best friend, may not be the thing that works for you.
The roadmap for each of us differs
The reality is we are all biologically and psychologically different. Society may give us a road map to follow but that doesn’t mean if we follow it, we are going to get a balanced life. You need to build and design a life around who you are. In order to do that, start with the story of your life. Herein lies the secret to what brings you joy.
Putting your priorities into perspective
In Steven Covey’s bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he has a great metaphor about how to construct a balanced life. He explains you should think of your life as a large glass jar. You fill the jar with all of the small and large things that tend to fill your life. The large rocks represent the important things and the smaller rocks represent the less important things. Sand represents the things that we all have to do that are not quite as exciting but necessary and water represents the things we must do to survive.
If you fill the jar up with just the large rocks, you’ll be lacking the basics like water and sand that represent the things that we need to do to survive. Likewise, if you only fill the jar with water, or sand, you are missing the most vital elements in your life. The trick is to find the balance between what is most important to you and what you need to survive.
Exploring what a balanced life means to you
Finding this balance is the key to career design. It’s why I created My Career Design Studio (MCDS). In MCDS there is an activity known as My Balanced Life. You can find it under the Raw Materials Section. This activity is in the shape of a pie chart designed to help you think through the most important aspects of your life knowing that your time on earth is limited. Research shows that when people think about their lives in this context, it can be very fruitful.
The first element ― adequate sleep
Start with your sleep. How much sleep do you need to feel rested and refreshed when you wake up? Our chronological clocks are all different so it really is about what you need as an individual. Figure out that equation, then guard those hours closely. Research shows that not getting adequate sleep can increase stress hormones, increase the amount of pain in your body and affect your ability to live your life with passion. After you have factored in the right amount of sleep, what is left over?
Creating your ideal scenario
What does the balance of your work day look like in your pie chart? What sliver of pie do you want to devote the most energy to? When we think of traditional jobs, we think about working Monday through Friday, forty hours a week. How much time do you want to spend on self-care? Exercising, mediating, journaling, for instance. Think of the things that help you stay focused and sane.
Next, think about your off hours. What, for most of us, constitutes our weekend? What refreshes you and recharges your batteries? Then, add in how much you want to work.
Identify your ideal balanced life then work backwards from there to achieve it
Create different combinations of what an ideal life would look like for you using the pie chart exercise. You may get a result in one of those combinations that your balanced life only includes thirty hours a week of work but you need a forty-hour a week paycheck. That’s okay. You are starting to understand what works best for you but, in reality, you may need to make some compromises.
Finding the right combination of work and other life activities is an ongoing process. If you take the time to start to think about it and use the My Balanced Life Exercise in My Career Design Studio you will start to lay the foundation for a successful future that factors in the whole picture of your life.