The food pyramid of work-life balance
I feel like ever since I graduated, I have no time for my hobbies anymore. It’s always wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep. I don’t even know what I’m interested in anymore. How can I get more of a work-life balance?
I recently lost 10 pounds by keeping track of everything I put in my body. In addition to logging carbs and fat, I also monitored my exercise and consumption of protein, vitamins, fiber, liquids and sweets. While performing this daily ritual — responsible for many weight loss success stories like mine — I wondered what it would be like to apply similar practices to other aspects of my life. After all, many people subscribe to the tenets of a balanced diet. Why not apply the same principles to how we fill our time?
Here’s how it could work: Imagine that you’re on a life balance management program designed to maximize vitality and minimize the choices that weigh you down. Your goal is to achieve a lean, robust, age-appropriate lifestyle that energizes you, satiates your basic needs and also enables you to taste the sweetness the world has to offer. You understand there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet. But, at the same time, you need to fill your proverbial plate with healthy doses of people and activities that nourish you. Ask yourself the following, making a list of all your possible responses:
What are your proteins? These would be the essential people, activities and experiences that you need to live, like earning a living, spending time with loved ones, cleaning your house and going to the gym.
What are your vitamins? This is what nourishes you and gives you energy. Perhaps it’s dancing, painting, sports, pets or even reading the morning paper?
What are your liquids? What helps you flush out the toxins in your life? Is it yoga, running, Tai Chi, meditation or maybe a long head-clearing walk in the park?
What’s your fiber? This would be the activities that help you feel full or come to terms with the parts of life that are difficult to digest. Perhaps it’s prayer, nature, supporting causes or psychotherapy.
What are your treats? What are a few indulgences that sweeten your life, occasionally satisfying your need for instant gratification? Is it watching television, going on vacation or getting a pedicure? If so, how might you treat yourself in moderation?
When you’re done making your list, block out time in your weekly routine for at least three proteins, two vitamins and one of each of the other categories. If you can’t fit everything in a single week, try to schedule them within the month.
Remember, just as it’s hard to lose weight by simply thinking about eating less, you have a better chance of achieving work-life balance by taking action steps, anticipating obstacles, staying focused and planning ahead. Good luck!