In a perfect world, each area of your life would balance out neatly. You’d work from 9 to 5 each day, take an hour-long lunch, and then come home and spend uninterrupted quality time with your family, and of course there would be plenty of time to exercise and indulge in hobbies or favorite sports.

Sounds pretty good alright, but the reality is we often find ourselves coming up short on the life balance scale, and when we’re hit by one of life’s inevitable obstacles or unexpected detours it can quickly throw an already strained lifestyle into a state of stress and overwhelm.

The truth is it’s virtually impossible to achieve complete balance every day of your life. There will simply be times when your work requires more time from you, just as there will be times when your family and life in general will require more of you.

Instead of driving yourself crazy trying to achieve some unrealistic vision or fantasy of the ‘ideal’ balanced life, take the time to define what a balanced life might look like for YOU. This is really important work because we each have different priorities in life, and those priorities will naturally change at various stages of your life.

Creating a Balanced Life is About Choices and Consequences

Staying aligned with your highest life-priorities takes away the guilt when you have to make choices about how you will invest your time and who you will invest your time with and leaves you free to use your emotions in more constructive ways.

And here’s a biggie … you must then learn to give greater priority to the ‘important’ things rather allowing your life to be driven by the ‘urgent.’

The Crucial Things We Put Off

Most of us have a tendency to react, in an almost knee-jerk way, to things that we perceive as urgent. We end up dealing with these things in a panic, procrastinate over anything that isn’t urgent, only to end up creating even more stress for ourselves when the stuff we’ve put off eventually also becomes urgent.

So how can you draw your focus back to the stuff that matters? How can you make sure you’re focusing on the things that will contribute to a more balanced life?

First let’s take a look at examples of urgent versus important.

The Urgent

A description of the urgent will look different for each of us, in different seasons, and even in different hours of the day. Some examples might be:

* Answering the phone.
* Replying to emails.
* Changing an exploded diaper.
* Clearing clutter.
* Unplanned dashes to the store.
* Cleaning up a spill.

None of these things are serious. Okay, so depending on where you are at the time, maybe the exploding diaper qualifies, but they normally do not need to be done quickly or at least at a designated time. In fact most of these issues come under the heading of planning: answering email just once or twice a day, using voicemail and responding to messages at convenient times, training your kids (or husband) to clear their own clutter, etc.

The Important

Depending on your priorities on a daily basis your list might look like:

* Spending time with your spouse.
* Teaching your children to read.
* Becoming debt-free.
* Spending quality time outdoors or on your favorite hobby
* Exercising.

What Goes Where?

Generally, once you’ve established your priorities it’s not too difficult to decide where a particular task or activity fits. The challenge is to not confuse a task’s urgency with its importance.

For example, it might be annoying to be fined $2 for your library books being overdue, but it’s not really an important consequence in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, missing the deadline with your big report might have huge negative consequences on your career; and not prioritizing exercise or a healthy diet after your doctor’s warned of potential health issues, could mean you’re choosing to risk cutting your life short.

Remember, what gets your attention, gets you.

And by all means, learn to dump the guilt. If you have decided to do something based on your highest life-priorities, you have earned the right to dump any associated guilt that may rear its ugly head.

Many people go through life feeling guilty. When they are at home, they feel guilty about not spending more time at the office. When they are at the office, the feel guilty that they are not at home with their family. It’s a vicious cycle of guilt that never seems to end.

When you’re able to clearly define what you want your life to look like, and fully commit to the priorities that will help you achieve that vision, your life will begin to reflect a sense of harmony, purpose, and achievement. Time will become your asset rather than your adversary, and your life will become a scenic marathon, rather than a frenzied sprint.

Author's Bio: 

Marquita Herald is a transformation guide, the creator of the life by design blog IGG-Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas, and the author of three books, Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience, Inspirational Words of Wisdom for Challenging Times, and It's Your Time Now - A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

She writes to inspire readers to reach a little beyond what's comfortable to achieve goals that matter ... refuse to accept simply "getting along" in life out of fear or limiting beliefs ... cultivate the skills to become stronger and more resilient ... learn to master the self-motivation skills that will keep you energized and moving forward ... make the choices each day that will over time create the fulfilling life you really want for yourself ... and to choose happiness, each and every day.

Marquita's professional background includes a successful 20 year career in hotel sales and marketing followed by a decade as a life and small business coach.
To learn more, please visit her at