How to Balance Life and Work for Professionals Who Want It All

Learn how to balance life and work in today’s BUSY life.

You’re successful… You’re Busy…. You work hard and are someone that doesn’t settle. You want to have it all… a successful career and awesome relationships.

We hear you. We’re just like you. We don’t want to settle on the important areas in our lives. No way. We will do almost anything to live the life we want.

That being said, we’ve come to believe that you can’t have it all. We’ve tried to be all things and ended up just being crappy (Yeah, we know, not even average) in everything and super stressed out.

Why You Can’t Have it All

We live in the age of information overload and distraction. Every minute of everyday something or someone is competing for your attention.

We are literally addicted to being connected to everything and everyone. God forbid if we didn’t have up to the minute updates on who got voted off of Dancing with the Stars.

We are bombarded with so much today that our attention is easily drained by information overload and we are unable to focus on the important stuff in life.

Tony Robbins in “Awaken the Giant Within” describes this phenomenon as “The Niagara Syndrome”. Tony explains “most people jump on the river of life without ever really deciding where they want to end up. So, in a short period of time, they get caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges. When they come to a fork in the river, they don’t consciously decide where they want to go, or which is the right direction for them. They merely go with the flow. They become part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values. As a result, they feel out of control. They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of raging water awakens them, and they discover that they’re five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars.”

We believe when you try to have it all, you actually take away from your ability to succeed at what’s important to you.

Maybe you are more of a superstar than us (it’s not that hard) and you can have it all, but we still think it’s helpful to take a look at how you use your attention glass.

How You Use Your Attention Glass

Each morning you wake up, your attention glass is full. There are some things that make your attention glass larger, such as eating healthy and exercising. Some things make your attention glass significantly smaller, like drinking eight martinis the night before.

Each decision you make, thought you have and action you take drains your attention glass. Attention is your #1 limited resource and it is often squandered on things you don’t really care about.

Take an inventory of all the things that drain your attention glass each day. Stalking people on Facebook, checking email, deciding what to eat, re-writing reports, talking with a co-worker, washing dishes, watching television, surfing the web, reading blogs, etc.

There are a million things that you probably do each day that drain your attention glass that you’re completely unaware of.

None of these activities are bad by themselves. They do cause problems when they use up your limited amount of attention and leave your glass empty for the things that are really important to you.

Your attention glass doesn’t care if what you’re doing is important or not. If you spend two hours mindlessly surfing the web you have drained your attention glass. That attention is gone and cannot be spent on your lover, family or important work tasks.

Start to consciously choose what you spend your attention on, realizing that using it on one activity means less available attention for others.

How to Balance Life and Work

You actually want to unbalance your life and work so that you can have everything that’s important to you. Balance doesn’t work, especially if you want to be wildly successful and fulfilled in a couple of areas.

Balance actually leads you to “sweat the small stuff” and to “major in minor things”. (can you think of any other cheesy clichés to go here?)

Learning how to balance life and work seems like common sense and it is what most people do. People who are able to master their careers AND personal relationships don’t balance life and work.

The Art of Unbalancing Your Life

Wow! Unbalancing your life sounds scary. Sounds like your one step away from joining Jack Nicholson in the Shining.

Unbalancing your life is actually the key to using your attention in a way that almost guarantees you personal and professional fulfillment. Instead of being okay in a lot of things, the goal is to absolutely dominate in the few areas that matter to you most.

The good news is, this can be done in two simple steps.

Step 1: Consciously deciding your ideal final destination = Discovering the few things that deeply matter to you.

  • What specifically do you want to achieve personally and professionally?
  • What kind of people do you want to be with?
  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • What experiences do you want to have
  • What excites you?
  • How do you want to treat your lover, or how does your lover want to be treated?
  • What are the few things you care about most at work?

Create a very specific and compelling final destination by answering these and similar questions.

Step 2: Unbalance how you use your attention glass each day

Personal finance experts often teach people to pay themselves first to make saving money an automatic, easy habit.

We recommend doing the same thing with your attention glass. Pay an overwhelming majority of your attention to the actions and people contributing directly to your final destination first. That way you’ll always be taking care of what is important to you.

Here’s Dr. Michael‘s current example:

He has two main final destinations right now that he’s focusing on:

  • Personal = to love, romance and pursue my wife each day as if we just met.
  • Professional = to help professionals dominate their careers AND personal relationships.

Each day he wakes up and spends a majority of his attention on these two goals. Anything that doesn’t directly or indirectly contribute to those two goals he will most likely avoid or say “no” to.

How does this help him?

Well he knows from asking that Ashley that she feels more loved by him doing some specific things. Acknowledging and talking with her when he comes home from work, taking out the trash (without her asking), cleaning the cat box, cleaning the kitchen and dishes, and giving her a hug in the morning before getting out of bed. All of these things contribute to Ashley feeling important and loved.

Yes, he does other more romantic gestures, but who knew that him doing something for Sassy and Buzi (our cats) could help my marriage so much? He never neglects these things because he pays attention to them first.

He’s dominating these two goals by making sure he pays attention to them first and never giving himself the opportunity to be distracted by less important things.

Now it’s your turn to start unbalancing your life!

Key points:

  • Take an inventory of all the things that drain your attention glass each day.
  • Decide on the few things that deeply matter to you both personally and professionally or your final destination.
  • Stop searching for how to balance life and work and practice the art of unbalancing your life.
  • Unbalance how you use your attention glass each day, skewing it toward what’s important to you.
  • Pay an overwhelming majority of your attention to the actions and people contributing directly to your final destination first.
  • Avoid or say “no” to people and activities that take away from your final destination as much as possible.

Say Yes to Love,

Dr. Michael Arn & Dr. Ashley Arn