One after the other, the leaders I work with report being overly stressed, tired, and having little or no time to exercise, eat right, and spend the time they want to nurture their important relationships. While their jobs bring them a large amount of satisfaction, many confess secretly yearning for that day over the horizon—after the next project is finished—when things “settle down” – or when “they have more time”, to spend some time integrating more of those highly neglected aspects into their days.

In reality, those days become weeks, the weeks become months, and the months become years. The project ends and a new, even more pressing one starts. Things don’t settle down, they only change and become even more hectic. The result is that “someday” horizon extends and never comes.

Does this sound familiar?

As a trained coach and life-long experiential and academic student of human development, I have good reason to believe that our overall well-being and fulfillment as humans is critical and depends on more than just our career satisfaction and success.

While I have many thoughts on this topic that are too long and deep to cover in a short post, I did want to start with one study to prompt your thinking.

The Gallup organization conducted a research study in 150 countries to find what elements were important in a sense of “well-being”, or overall fulfillment and meaning in one’s life. (Rath & Hunter, “Well-being” 2010)

The study pointed them to five key elements that impacted one’s overall well-being:

  • Career—How you occupy your time and how you like what you do every day.
  • Social—Having strong relationships and love in your life
  • Financial –The ability to manage the economic components of your life
  • Physical – Having good health and the physical ability to do things
  • Community –Being engaged in the environment you are in

The researchers from Gallup found that while 66% of the population was thriving in one area, only 7% reported thriving in all five. The issue is–if we find ourselves struggling in any one of these areas, it directly impacts our overall sense of well-being. While we think compartmentalizing is a good thing–it actually isn’t that great.

What we conclude is that balance is not really about time for work vs. time for our lives—it is about gaining and maintaining an overall, integrated sense of personal well-being in our lives.

The question becomes, how do we do that? While that answer may be complex, my purpose with this short post today is to drive you to take some time and think about your own well-being and what beginning steps you can take to increase it.

  1. Assess your current satisfaction: Where are you now?

Doing a self-assessment in these 5 areas is a good place to start.

How satisfied are you with each area?

What one thing would you want to change?

  1. Set a goal for each area

What is the one thing you commit to doing in each area that will move you towards the change you desire? (It doesn’t have to be grandiose—just a step forward.) Most people pick too many goals and end up ditching them. Pick one that you will stick to.

  1. Tangibly commit to the goal for each one

Create a regular ritual that you will follow to execute on your intentions. Perhaps a date night with your spouse or partner each week is the ritual you create for your goal to improve your closest relationships. Be specific. Will it be Thursday nights? Articulate it, commit to it, and hold it sacred. The same goes for the other goals. For your physical goal, perhaps it is to eat plant-based meals twice a week. Or to only eat red meat on Fridays. Or to do 100 sit-ups every night before bed. Whatever you choose, have it be specific and create a tangible ritual you will commit to.

Moving toward greater well-being in these areas requires awareness, reflection, intention, and committed action. While it seems difficult to even start and much less maintain consistent progress, planning and implementing small steps will foster greater awareness and drive us in a direction of forward movement.

Try doing this for three months and see what happens. I’d love to hear from you about what you discover.

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