Recently I saw a news story which cited an interesting study. Researchers found that taking vacations increases life expectancy by 37%. While many of you may think that’s a no-brainer, many still struggle to maintain that coveted work-life balance. Here in the DC Metro Area is ground zero for type-A go getters. These high achievers excel in their professional lives, working 60, 70, and 80 hour work weeks, thriving in the process. In fact, I know several people that forgo that vacation time each year due to their hectic jobs. They trade in time at the beach for a few more hours at at the office, a last-minute client meeting or to catch up on paperwork, proposals, or emails.
At times, those particular clients have complained about how busy their lives are. Many lament that they can't possibly meet the minimum standard of 30 min of exercise 5 days per week; others state how it would be utterly impossible to give up the alcohol or decadent meals that simply “come with the territory”. I’ve heard the same story from family members, friends, and acquaintances that claim they cannot devote any more time to achieving a healthier, more balanced life because they are “just too busy”.
On the flip side, I know of dedicated triathletes who won’t take a rest day. The idea of resting one day a week instead of going for an intense ride, swim, or run sounds like crazy talk to them, despite all the research that champions the benefits of recovery and rest. There is just something inside them that says, “more is better”. So they continue to train, even when sick, injured, or heading toward burn out.
However, I get it. I get all of it. I get those who push too hard on the fitness end of the spectrum, and I get those that are so devoted to work and professional pursuits that there is no time for a healthy lifestyle. At different times in my life, I've been in both camps. What both groups have in common is a lack of balance. And just as a muscular imbalance will lead to a biomechanical breakdown over time, and ‘imbalanced life’ will lead to a breakdown as well.
So, how do you create that balance? How do you find a way to ‘have your cake and eat it too?’ Just like anything else worthwhile, it takes work. There are literally thousands of books dedicated to helping find balance in life, achieving worthy goals, and becoming a ‘better you’. My assumption is that they are all good and have meaningful insights to offer- yet my guess is that if you can’t find 30 minutes a day to exercise, reading a dozen books on balance is probably not in the cards for you either. So I’ve distilled down 3 keys that can help you start to bring a bit of balance back into your world- Recognize, Refocus, and be Consistent.