Happy New Year! It’s the second week of January and I hope you’re still riding the excitement of New Year’s, perhaps even enjoying the last (or first) of your vacation time. It’s the start of a new year and it feels like endless possibilities lay before you. Before you get started on achieving those resolutions, stop for a moment and think about what in your life can be more balanced; January is, after all, “Get a Balanced Life Month”.
We often hear the word “balanced” throughout our day. “Eat a balanced diet”, “Have a sense of balance”, and “Work-life balance”. Yet I wonder if you ever stop to think about what “balance” means to you. After all, a balanced diet could mean eating the cookie after the salad. Balance, right?
When I think of a “balanced” life, I think of decluttering, streamlining, trimming the fat, out with the old, and in with the new. In fact decluttering and getting rid of things is one of my FAVORITE things to do. Clean house, clean mind. In fact just talking about decluttering gets me excited. When I need to find peace in my life or clean, organize and toss.
Is there any area of your life where you might feel like you need to declutter, streamline, or trim the fat? Some people think about decluttering their garage or storage room, for those in the south maybe it’s the attic and for those of you up north, the basement. Stretch your imagination and include areas outside the physical that might need decluttering. Are you holding on to too many social events out of obligation? Do you feel like you lack enough time to yourself, in order to achieve your goals and your dreams, because you’re too busy with other things?
You might’ve read my blog on “How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Reduce Holiday Stress” where I discuss the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle states that 20 percent of input (or investments when it comes to finances) is responsible for 80 percent of the results. In other words, 80 percent of all your stress, worries, and fears come from only 20 percent in your life. It might seem a little strange that only 20 percent of your life is causing you stress yet I promise you, this is is the case.
Take finances for instance. This is a big area of stress for many individuals and couples and usually bleeds over into other things like paying bills, affording child care, buying splurge items, paying off debt, etc. This seemingly small or “one” thing ends up impacting a large part of your life and your daily functioning. It might not be immediately possible to solve all your financial problems by the end of January but it is possible to begin taking control of that one, “small” area of your life which is causing you the most stress.
While we’re on the subject of the 20 percent of your life causing 80 percent of your stress, maybe finances are only 5 percent of that 20 percent. Let’s look at what you’re doing with your time. What makes up the other 15?
Is there an area of your life where you’re overcommitted? Are you trying to be a “super mom” who’s on the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Girl or Boy Scouts Troop leader, hosting a weekly book club, working out daily to maintain a certain look, all while trying to have a career and taking good care of your family? Man that’s a lot! Or are you trying to be Superman, taking on extra work assignments, staying late at the office every night, workout, and coach your son or daughter’s soccer league on the weekends?
No matter where you find yourself today, take a look at places where you feel a sense of obligation yet are really, deep down, things on which you don’t want to be spending your time. Are you doing these things because they’ll look good, or make you look good? Are these things you feel like you must do, based on a condition, or is it a case of the “feel bads” (you “feel bad”, so you do it)?
A commonality among over-committers, as I call them, is the feelings and thoughts associated with the overcommitment. Thoughts of “I need to do this”, “I should do this”, or “It will look better if I do this” are common thoughts found floating around the mind of over-committers. The feelings most often associated with over-commitment include guilt, obligation, and low self-worth. Getting in touch with the reason why you feel compelled to say “yes” will help empower you to honor yourself and say “no”. Maybe none of the feelings listed above resonate with you, so I encourage you to spend some time exploring why you feel the need to do some of the things you do.
If you’re having difficulty saying “No” remember that the inability to say no is considered a form of self betrayal. You deny yourself the things you’d like, or prevent yourself from being able to do the things you’d like to do, and the result is the feeling of discontent as you put others needs before your own.
As the new year gets started, spend some time identifying the areas of your life in which you’d like to have a little more balance and if you find yourself struggling on where to start or facing obstacles that are a little too hard to overcome on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.