As working moms, we wear a lot of hats. We have many responsibilities constantly fighting for our attention. Somehow, we must learn how to prioritize, strategize, and focus just to be able to survive. But I don’t want to just survive the chaos that is my life, I want to actually thrive and truly enjoy my life.
I want my life to be full of beauty and love, peace and joy, abundance and growth. These things don’t just happen by chance and it’s very hard to find them if you’re simply moving through life at break-neck speed hoping to survive. Balance and thriving in life can only happen by living intentionally. We must pay attention to the direction our life is heading and make decisions and changes to move in the direction we actually want to go.
If our life feels chaotic and disjointed, or if we constantly feel like we’re drowning and not able to keep up, it is time to make some changes. If we never get the opportunity to enjoy our life or to soak up the beauty and the goodness around us, it is time to create some space. And if we struggle to experience joy and fulfillment in our lives, it is time to shift our priorities.
There are 8 key areas of life that we need to regularly consider and explore in order to keep our lives in balance. Each new season of life may require us to shift our focus in these key areas to make sure we are living a life of abundance, peace, and joy.
If you are feeling unfulfilled or if life is more chaotic than you would prefer, take some time to examine these key areas. Consider how you are doing in these areas and where you are finding success. You might also think about which key areas are most important to you in this season of life. Decide what might need to be removed from your life, what changes you should make, and what you should continue doing in each area in order to develop some goals to go along with these changes.
If you’re physical body is not healthy, you cannot live and perform at your best. You will struggle with unnecessary fatigue, pain, sickness, and other ailments that will slow you down and keep you from truly enjoying your life. Your physical health should be one of your most important priorities. Everything in your life suffers if you are not physically healthy. Everything in your life is enhanced by good physical health.
Obtaining good physical health involves eating nutritious and wholesome foods, being physically active on a regular basis, and getting sufficient rest and relaxation. It also means going to the doctor when necessary (including the dentist and eye doctor), taking additional vitamins and supplements as needed, and taking other preventative measures to keep yourself well.
If you are regularly feeling tired, getting sick, or unable to keep up with the demands of your life, spend some time considering your current physical health and make some goals and changes to help you improve.
Your relationship with God should be at the top of your priority list. If we want to live our best life, it would be wise to stay closely connected to the source of life. Without spending regular time with God, our life becomes purposeless, anxiety-ridden, and hopeless. We need God to infuse us with His love, His purpose, and His power to equip us for everything that life throws our way.
We focus on our spiritual health by making sure we spend time in the Word, in prayer, in the fellowship of other believers (church and small group meetings), and in generosity and service. By focusing our thoughts and intentions on God all throughout each day we make sure that we are constantly allowing His Spirit to lead us and guide us in all of our circumstances.
Spend some time evaluating your spiritual life. Do you have time set aside every day for prayer and reading the Bible? Are you and your family regularly attending church and becoming involved in a small group of believers? Are you sensitive to the Holy Spirit throughout your day, listening for God’s voice, and allowing Him to guide your thoughts and decisions?
Related: Thy Will Be Done
There seems to be two main ways that people tend to deal with their emotions. On one hand there are people who ignore their emotions, particularly the negative ones. They bottle them up, numb them, wish them away, or try to overpower their emotions through activity.
On the other hand are people who fully experience their emotions. They recognize you can’t go over them, you can’t go under them, you have got to go through them. These people intentionally do everything they can to feel all of the emotions that come their way. Instead of trying to ignore their emotions or even react to every emotion that comes along, they allow them all to come. They become curious about their emotions and begin to notice what it feels like to be happy, sad, peaceful, or anxious. They consider the thoughts and events that lead to different emotions. And because they are able to pause and feel and think about their emotions, they are able to use their brains (their thoughts) to lead their decisions in life, not their emotions.
This second group of people are the ones who have found true emotional health. They recognize that emotions are a part of life, but emotions do not (or at least should not) have any actual control of our lives. We get to control our lives. Your circumstances don’t control your life. Your anxiety doesn’t control your life. You do. So stop reacting to circumstances and emotions and take control.
If this is an area that you struggle with, take some time to work on feeling your emotions. When you notice you are feeling a particular emotion, pause and get curious about it. What does it feel like in your body to be angry? What are the thoughts you are currently thinking that have led to your angry feelings? Are these thoughts serving you? Keep asking questions, keep feeling, and don’t take action until the intense feeling has passed. Just feel your emotion and allow it to teach you.
We were created for community. We aren’t meant to do life all on our own. It is important to have and to nurture the relationships in our lives. This includes our marriage, our children, our extended family, our friends, and our coworkers.
This area includes a lot of important people. Different seasons of life will require our social life to look a little different, but it is important to have social relationships with a variety of people. If you only ever see your husband and children, you likely need to be more intentional about making time for friends and other relationships. If your coworkers know all about the details of your life but you can’t remember the last real conversation you had with your husband, make it a priority to schedule some down time with your spouse. And if you struggle to shut down your work at 5:00, it may be wise to develop some evening routines that will offer you more quality time with your kids.
Related: Why My Husband Trumps My Kids
You learn something new everyday. Or at least you should. You may have celebrated your graduation day from school as the sign that you were done with learning and growing, but that wasn’t actually the case. Without ever learning anything new or becoming better, we become stagnant, unfulfilled, and disconnected from life. Your intellectual health is important, not only in helping you feel more satisfied in life, but also in keeping your brain young and active.
Fortunately for this key area of life, there are lots of options for keeping up. You can of course read books (both fiction and non-fiction are important), you can take courses (there are a number of free online courses on a variety of topics including crafts, hobbies, and other interests), you can write, you can do puzzles and games. Anything that gives your brain a workout.
Your occupational health includes your job, but it is far more than just your career. Your occupational health is your contribution to the world, your mission, your calling. It’s that thing that wakes you up in the morning and drives you to do better in life. Sometimes it overlaps with some of the other key areas of our lives. Sometimes it has a little to do with our career and a lot to do with that thing we do in our free time on the side.
There are people who have their dream job. They do something fulfilling, they change the world, and get paid to do it. But not everyone lives this type of life. Some people work a job that provides an income that allows them to pursue their passions outside of work. Both situations are completely normal and fine.
But we all need something in our lives that brings us purpose, passion, and fulfillment, whether that’s in our 9-5 job or the thing we do on the weekends or any other time in between. It is wise to have a job that you can tolerate, but if you feel like you’re job just isn’t meeting all of your needs, you may not need to find a new job. You might just need to find your fulfillment and passion in the other hours of your week.
Think about the things you spend your time on. What excites you the most? What gives you a sense of purpose? What do you feel that God has called you to do? How can you do more of these things in your daily life?
Sure, this has a little to do with taking care of the Earth, but mostly when I talk about environmental health I’m talking about your surroundings. This can be people, things, or places.
You might need to address your environment if you are surrounded by actual physical chaos. If you have too much stuff and clutter or if things are always messy, you will want to purge your environment and get organized. If you have no organized system for handling your calendar and your tasks, you want to find some strategies and planning skills that work for you.
The people you surround yourself with are also important. If you are constantly surrounded by toxic people with negative attitudes or abusive personalities it can affect your life immensely. It might be time to make some changes to your circumstances if the people in your life are causing your environment to be uncomfortable or even miserable.
Sometimes our environmental health is affected by the places we spend our time and we may need to actually relocate ourselves for a variety of reasons. This could mean finding a new job, a new church, or even a new home. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice if you need to make some changes.
I almost didn’t include this one on the list because I don’t want people to think that riches are a part of living a great life. You don’t need to be rich to live in abundance. But you do need to be a wise steward of the money you do have, so your financial health is really important.
You can be happy with any amount of money. If you don’t believe me, go spend some quality time in a third world country. I promise you will find people who are immensely happy with their lives and they probably don’t even know how “poor” they are. Happiness is not found in money.
However, money can make you downright miserable. It can destroy lives. Money has the power to ruin relationships, to wreck your physical health, to damage your spiritual health, and to keep you from experiencing fulfillment in life. Being financially responsible and a good steward of the money you do have is incredibly important.
If your finances are a mess, take some time to evaluate your spending, consider ways to cut back, investigate new income sources, and develop a workable budget system.
Balancing all of the key areas in life
The word balance tends to have a bad name. Many people frown when we start talking about “balance” in life, claiming that it’s not possible. While I agree that you can’t spend an exact amount of time in each of these 8 key areas and magically find the perfect balance in life, I truly believe that you can live your life in such a way that you feel like things are in balance. You can live in a way that doesn’t feel stressful and chaotic. It is possible to experience a life in which you don’t actually feel like you are on the verge of drowning at all times.
Balance is about being in control of our lives. It is about living intentionally and purposefully. It is about living with daily peace and joy no matter the circumstances because we are healthy and stable in all of the key areas of our lives. It takes work to remain in balance. It doesn’t just happen. It takes some juggling and hard decisions on a daily basis. But it is possible to live a life of balance. It is possible to live a life that feels fulfilled, abundant, and enjoyable.
Personally, I like to review these key life areas yearly, quarterly, and monthly. I encourage you to take some time to review how your life feels and which of the above areas are you doing the best in. Make some decisions and arrangements to keep doing what you’re doing in these areas.
Then take some time to consider the key life areas where you are currently struggling. Determine what changes need to be made and develop a few small goals to help you start making progress to get where you want to be in these key areas.
Each month, take a few minutes to evaluate what you’ve accomplished, what circumstances have changed in your life, and decide how you are succeeding in each of the key life areas. Then use this information to intentionally set your goals and plans for the next month.
*Free Printable Key Life Areas Worksheet*
I have created a Key Life Area Worksheet for my email subscribers that can walk you through this self-evaluation. Click here to join the Working Mom’s Balance email club to download your copy of this printable worksheet. Once you have confirmed your subscription, you will receive an email with a link to download your worksheet.
Today’s action step:
Schedule some time in your calendar this week to perform the above exercise to evaluate how you are doing in each of the 8 key areas. Use that time to also develop a few goals for September. If you’d like, share your goals in the comments for additional accountability.
My goal for this blog is to create posts that speak to at least one of the above 8 key life areas. By making small changes in the key areas of our lives we can start to live lives that feel more balanced, connected, and peaceful.
If you would like a copy of the Key Life Area Worksheet and to stay connected so you never miss a thing, join the email club below.