Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Balancing Your Act

By Michelle Zellner

Michelle has been a trainer, coach, and facilitator for over 20 years.  Her business, Better Beings, encompasses individual clients, weekend workshops, and a week-long wellness retreat.  She is also an event key-note speaker and is highly sought  to deliver corporate trainings.  Thus far, she has conducted over 2000 trainings, both live and via webinar.  Along with her knowledge, the connection she makes with the audience often results in requests for repeat visits.

Michelle’s background has enabled her to deliver on a wide variety of training topics, including: exercise, nutrition, weight loss, stress management, sleep, preventing and managing chronic disease, work-life balance—and many more. 

Learn more about Michelle at:
www.betterbeings.net and on fb and Instagram @betterbeingsus

This blog entry is an modified excerpt from her upcoming book.

Stress is part of everyone’s life, but if you don’t learn to find some balance, serious health consequences could be waiting!  We often waste resources (time, money and energy) or are simply not distributing them effectively, and this leads to feeling overwhelmed, undervalued and unappreciated. Burnout---physical, mental, emotional or professional---could be near, but is totally preventable. Follow along and fill out the evaluation tools to help you identify how balanced YOUR act is.

One of the most popular trainings I teach is on the topic of work/life balance. I find it so interesting that “work” and “life” are viewed as two separate things.  If you are in your income-earning years (and not the recipient of a large trust fund), work is PART of your life.  Of course, it is going to take up a large chunk of your day, but unfortunately what has happened is this idea that we work all the time has become normalized.  There are more demands, more expectations and more opportunities than ever before, and yet we still only have 24 hours in the day. How can we possibly find the time for all the things we need to do, plus all the things we want to do AND still end up a healthy human being?  The reality is, you probably can’t. 

Yes, I said it---you can’t have it ALL. 
I wish I could:
eat whatever I want
rarely exercise
buy anything I want whenever I want it
go out to every social event that looks fun and interesting
be informed on every aspect of my friend’s lives and happenings in the world
work a high paying job that requires little time and effort
do everything to please everyone

AND….still be a happy, healthy, productive, high functioning being! 
This my friends, is not reality. 

So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do? How do we structure our days/weeks/lives to find time for the necessities of life, while also finding joy, purpose and fulfillment? You have already started, because you are reading this blog! What comes next is identifying for yourself, your GOALS, VALUES and PRIORITIES. If you are spending time, money and energy on things that don’t really matter or on things that do not align with your values or in ways that are not getting you closer to your goals, you are wasting those resources! This will result in your feeling overwhelmed, unappreciated, unfulfilled, and out of balance. It will also most likely cause a deterioration in your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Something is going to give! You will be STRESSED!

Your productivity will suffer.  Your relationships will suffer.  Your health will suffer.

To really clarify what your Priorities and Values are, fill out the following worksheet. I know some of you are thinking, ‘I know what my priorities are, I don’t need to fill this out’. YES YOU DO! I have taught this class hundreds of times and watched people struggle with the actual words that define their priorities and values. Think of priorities as things that have an elevated level of importance and values as standards of behavior or characteristics that are held in high regard.

[If you'd like to download the following worksheet & survey, visit: https://betterbeings.net/about.]

Priorities and Values Worksheet Instructions

Once you have made the lists of your priorities and values, fill in the 2 circles with all things that take up your time on a given day.  The top circle should represent how you are currently spending your time, and the bottom circle depicts how you would like to be spending your time.  Please keep the bottom circle based in reality.  If it is not realistic to spend 24 hours of your day sitting on a beach, resist the temptation to live in that fantasy.  If that IS in the realm of possibility, draw it---and then let’s figure out how to make it happen!

Most people find it helpful to divide the circle into a pie chart, but feel free to create whatever makes sense to you. I also encourage you to invite people you share time and space with to fill out their own worksheets.  This will provide valuable insight into the dynamics of certain relationships, and may foster a more supportive and nurturing environment.
An important step in creating balance, is to assess your current status. The Satisfaction Survey is designed to do just that. There are many layers to this worksheet, and the step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process. At the end, you will have all the tools to create an action plan for elevating your level of satisfaction.

Satisfaction Survey

For each statement determine whether you:
Strongly agree         5
Agree          4
Neutral                  3
Disagree          2
Strongly Disagree 1

Physical health is important to me____                      I am satisfied with the state of my health____

My attitude impacts my outcome ____                       I find the positive in every situation____

I need external praise to feel successful ____            I feel supported in my pursuits____

I prefer to be the decision maker___                          I am making most of the decisions in my life____

I need to be heard and validated____                         I have a safe environment to express ideas____

Financial stability is a must____                                   I am comfortable with my financial situation ____

I need time to do my own thing____                           I take time to renew my spirit____

I value solid friendships____                                         I have enough high-quality friendships____

Making contributions fuels my motivation ____       I feel like a valuable member at home ____

                                                                                          I feel like a valuable member at work_____

Defined purpose enables me to thrive ___                I recognize my purpose____

I perform better when I feel good____                       I take time for self-care_____

I prefer to be in a nurturing relationship____           I have a positive partner in my life_____

I function well when I am at peace ____                    I am able to let go of what I cannot control___

I get bored if I am not challenged____                       I have avenues toward growth_____

I need everything to be perfect____                           I do the best I can with what I’ve got____

I easily adapt to change ___                                         I have resources and reach out to for help____

I utilize stress management tools effectively____    I am always stressed out____

I measure success by material assets____                I am pleased with the pace of my results___

Satisfaction Survey Instructions

1. Once you have assigned each line value, determine your satisfaction. If you agree with a statement in the first column, and the rank of that statement in the second column is lower, that would indicate an area for improvement. For example:

My Health is important to me  5     I am satisfied with my health  3
In this case you may want to create an action plan to modify behaviors that are necessary to elevate your level of satisfaction with your physical health.

I easily adapt to change   I have resources available and reach out for help 4
In this case, you have recognized a challenge and have tools in place to help you with this.  There is no sense of urgency for change in this area.

2. Circle any statements where you are less than satisfied with your current status. Next, put a star by those that you are in control of changing.  Do not worry about how difficult it may be, but rather if YOU HAD to do something about it, you could.

3. Next, look at all the items you starred. Most likely you have starred all circled statements. Yes, you are in control of all of these things!  You are not necessarily in control of the outcome, but you CAN do something about every item on the list.  Put a GIANT SMILEY FACE next to any items you are READY and WILLING to do something about.

4. Let’s first address those items that are starred, but have no smiley face.  What are you going to do with things you know you can change, but are not ready or willing right now?  Often these are the things we obsess about, beat ourselves up about and cause us to feel deflated and defeated.  It’s OK if you can’t tackle it right now.  It’s OK if you decide that the work you need to put into it is just not worth the time, money or energy, for the possibility of the outcome you say you want.  But if this is the case, you need to do something with it.  If you allow it to continue to clog your mind and drain your energy, possibly use up your money, you won’t have the capacity to do the things you ARE ready for.  We will revisit this a bit later, so you have strategies to free up the space and energy that will allow you to make real progress.

5. Now, let’s get back to business!  Those areas with a smiley face are waiting for you to take action!  You are READY and WILLING to change behaviors to elevate your level of satisfaction so it matches how important you say this is.  If something got a high rank in column 1, it should also appear on your list of Priorities and Values.  Double check---if it’s not there, this is a good time to add it to the list.  Pick one or two and write a SMART goal to outline exactly how you plan to facilitate change.  Refer to Chapter 3 for a refresher on how to write a SMART goal.

Are you ready to stop trying and start doing?  These steps will get you on your way.  Small changes lead to big results, but you have to START.  Do not go one more day, week, year without making a change.  Once you pass on the opportunity to make a better choice, you don’t get that opportunity back.  Slow progress IS progress and as long as you are moving in the right direction, that is success.  You will discover this, but I’ll let you in on a little secret.  If you make a change in one area, it will have a domino effect in several other areas.  That is what is SO beautiful about the whole process.  One choice affects us on multiple levels, so while it might look like you have a lot to do, changing one little thing might actually take care of many others.  Trust me, it really does work this way!  This is the method of a better being.

I want to circle back for a moment to address those things that are hanging over or cluttering up your head.  If you are not satisfied with something the options are
A. Complain about it  B.  Change it    C.  Leave it

Complaining is easy, but not healthy and gets you nowhere.  Change would be healthy, but it is hard and you have determined that you are not willing to change this, at least not right now.  Leaving it is also hard…but the only option left for a better being.

Leave it, by accepting what is or by reassessing the degree of importance or your level of satisfaction. Let it go!  You may need to reframe and gain perspective to bring it into balance.  The specific words you use, can be empowering or leave you feeling like a victim.  Remember you are making the CHOICE to take no action.  Choice is power and power is valuable.  If and when you determine you are ready for change, you’ll know what to do, but for now, take a deep breath, stand tall, and forge on with changes you are ready to make!