Improve Your Life Personal Growth By Mary Jaksch A guest post by Anastasiya Goers of Balance In Me Imagine … that you can have any superpower in the world, which one would you choose that will make you the happiest? I am not talking about regular things like flying, being super strong, becoming invisible, reading people’s minds – they are all cool, for sure, but they won’t get you any closer to happiness or perfect ZEN. Let’s dig a little deeper, beyond the obvious answers. I would love to have the super power of everyday life balance. With that power I could perfectly organize my schedule to fit my most important activities and life priorities into everyday day. I would be able to miraculously smooth out any conflicts that may arise during the day and keep my calm no matter what. I would be able to effortlessly juggle my career goals, my family and a perfectly healthy lifestyle. And, yes, if any “unexpected surprises” pop up during the day (the car battery dies when I am trying to get to work, my child swallows a coin, I get stuck in a traffic jam when I am late for the most important meeting of the year) I would be able to just snap my fingers and everything will get back to normal. Aaah, the perfect life… What about you, would you like to have this super power? Yes, super powers are not real, but it doesn’t mean that you (and I) can’t make all our days balanced and happy. For the past 4 years I’ve been researching, learning, testing and experimenting with every possible way to live a balanced life (it’s my passion if you haven’t noticed it yet.) I want to share with you 5 steps that will help you reclaim your everyday balance. They won’t make you a superhuman but will definitely give you an amazing super power. Step 1. Simplify It’s obvious that the less clutter (material or mental) you have in your life, the easier it is to keep your life in balance. However, simplicity doesn’t come easy these days. On the surface everything seems, well, simple – throw away clutter from your house, say “no” to projects that you are not interested in and stop worrying about things that happened 10 years ago. However, when you take this advice personally you come face to face with a humongous roadblock. Are you sure that you can throw away the vase that you bought during your honeymoon? (Even if it doesn’t match your interior at all and stands on the shelf with 10 more souvenirs that you are emotionally attached to.) It’s not that easy to say “no” to your colleagues because they depend on you so much. You will do it one last time, it won’t hurt, right? (Except that it is your hundredth time saying no to saying ” no” – no pun intended.) And some things are not that easy to forget. They are your past and you can’t simply erase your brain and forget about everything. In simplifying life it’s best to start on the inside. You need to find your motivation to eliminate things from your life and feel good about it. It might take you a month, it might take you a year but ever a little step that you make takes you a little bit closer to happy living. Reinforce your super power: Start a journal where you write down things in your life that you want to simplify. Every day right down 1 thing that you are ready to let go of (whether it’s that vase or your bad habit), the reason why you decided to do that and how it made you feel immediately and several days after. At first start with simple things that are the easiest to eliminate from your life and then move on to emotional baggage, schedule and finally lifestyle. Step 2. Prioritize If you had a nickel for every time that you heard about prioritization you would probably be a rich person, wouldn’t you? You also wouldn’t be feeling out of balance if you actually followed up on that advice. Surprisingly, a lot of us don’t even know what their true priorities are. The most common mistake is confusing life priorities with life necessities. A lot of people today put work as one of their top priorities, but is it the right thing to do? Of course, we need to work to pay our bills (unless your parents are still providing for you, you already earned your retirement or your wealthy unknown uncle just died and left you all of his possessions.) But, jokes aside, work is just a necessity for most of us. Life balance depends on your ability to balance your true life priorities with your life necessities. Too often we talk about the importance of priorities in our life (the most common ones being family and health) but do nothing to follow up on our words. Reinforce your super power: For a perfectly balanced life you need to find time every day to satisfy your life priorities (no matter how much you work on satisfying the necessities.) By clearing clutter from your lifestyle (watching too much TV, spending too much time online) you can finally find time to spend with your loved ones, work out and fix a healthy dinner instead of ordering takeout. Step 3. Become a positive realist Everybody knows that negativity is not the best companion of happiness. But too much positivity can keep you from joyous living too. If you have a dream or a goal that you want to reach in life then just thinking about it is not enough. Picturing how great your future will be without ever considering the steps that it takes to get there or possible hurdles that can get in your way (and ways to work around them of course) is just an exercise for your imagination. Actually this type of visualization can keep you from ever reaching your goal as your brain treats those mental images as the real thing making you feel good without the necessity to act on them. Reinforce your super power: Instead write down your dream/goal, the steps that you need to make and all of the possible obstacles. For each obstacle come up with several scenarios of how you can get around them and start acting. With your everyday events try not to label them as positive or negative right away. Just let them be part of your life instead of spending all your mental energy on finding “positive” reasons why you are stuck in a traffic jam. There is a reason for every little thing that happens in your life but often we can’t see that reason right away. This is the magic of Zen and ultimate life balance – over time you learn to accept things for what they are and be okay with it. Step 4. Be flexible I wish I could tell you how to avoid any unexpected surprises that happens during the day. Unfortunately I can’t, but I can tell you how to get around them without ruining your plans and your mood. Napoleon had a brilliant idea of strategic military planning which he summarized as “You engage, and then you wait and see.” By making contact with the enemy and then improvising, he triumphed and made his armies the envy or Europe. Reinforce your super power: In real life the ability to improvise is a crucial component of balance. Instead of making daily to-do lists try to create a list of goals for a week or a month. This flexibility will let you have time for the unexpected surprises and ways to deal with them. And instead of always sticking to rigid plans and goals let yourself go with the flow sometimes. Step 5. Brush up on your routines Routines might seem boring and completely opposing to creativity and fun living. However, if used right, they will be your dear companions. Routines can help you develop your creativity, strengthen your willpower, develop healthy lifestyle habits and keep your schedule under control. A lot of famous writers (including Steven King and Anthony Trollope) used routines to fuel their creativity. A certain order of everyday tasks (get up at the same time, have a cup of tea or coffee, sit down and write until a certain time) helped them get in the “zone” and create their masterpieces without ever feeling writer’s block or being behind deadlines. According to recent studies shared by Baumeister and Tierney in their new book Willpower your self control can be strengthened over time if you work on creating and maintaining daily routines. The same self control can be later used to develop healthy habits, take control of your finances and time as well as work on any other areas that require willpower to transform. Reinforce your super power: In order to create your perfectly balanced day start by creating balanced routines and simplifying/eliminating the ones that are keeping you from living your best life. These steps will help you transform each day into a truly balanced one. Our life is ever changing so don’t expect to go through these steps once and fix your lifestyle forever. Apply them as needed and go back to them when you feel that the feeling of balance is leaving you. After all this is your super power, so use it and share it with the ones around you. Anastasiya is the founder of Balance In Me – the Life Balance Portal where she helps people find their personal life balance with practical tips, genuine support and every day inspiration. Click here to read Top 100 Ways to Make your Life More Balanced and make your life more balanced.