An Optimal Balance to Your Life

by Stephen Mills on October 2, 2009

Stressed

One of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to balance everything they do in their lives is trying to do it all perfectly.  You feel that no matter how much time you devote to your job, your kids, or yourself that it still isn’t enough.  Sorry, but you can’t be the perfect partner, perfect parent, perfect friend, perfect employee, and perfect self all at the same time.  If you try it, you will fail.

You need to get used to another you – the good enough you.  The good enough you can have an optimally balanced life and there is a surprise benefit to go along with it.  You actually perform better in all those areas once you stop trying to be perfect and stop trying to do everything.

The rested, relaxed, and recharged good enough you is much easier to deal with.  You may not be dealing with your kids as often as before, but the quality of your interaction will go way up.  When you take the pressure off everyone relaxes.  The happy and tolerant mom will create higher quality memories in her children than the overbearing, ever-present, and stressed-out mom.

When you try to do too much and be perfect, you are killing your effectiveness and everyone else can feel your stress.  It makes them uncomfortable.  Just stop it.  Give others a little space and some peace.  Give yourself a break.

You may need to cut back on your working hours, reduce your nights out with your partner or friends, cut back on mothering, exercise less, clean your house less often and less thoroughly, write less often and with fewer words, and so on.  It’s up to you to determine the balance.  You may actually need to increase some things in your life to bring more balance.

The key point to remember is the 80/20 rule.  You are getting most of the benefit from a small part of your effort.  Finding that 20% that gives you the most benefit is the key to optimizing your balanced life.

Obviously different people will emphasize different areas based upon their own personality and situation, but the key is to make a decision to optimize and generally cut back.   Apply the 80/20 rule to each area of your life.  Make a list of all the different things you do in each important part of your life and the frequency with which you do them.  Start crossing the least important ones and reducing the frequency of others.  Eliminate the 80% of your time that is only giving you 20% of the benefits.

You need to go for good enough because trying to be perfect is making you less than you can be.  Good enough allows you to live an optimally balanced life of well-being.  The people in your life will thank you and you will thank yourself.

“There’s No Task Easier Than No Task”  –  Leo Babauta

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Gordie Rogers October 2, 2009 at 7:23 am

Yes, the 80-20 Rule is Pareto’s Law. It states that 20% of your actions brings 80% of your results; 20% of your customers bring you 80% of your income and 20% of your relationships bring you 80% of your happiness.
.-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..Are You Really Serious About Blogging? Then Join The ProBlogger Community. =-.

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:19 am

Hello again Gordie! I wonder if 20% of the cookies bring 80% of the fat? LOL – I think calories may be more linear in their impact.

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Gordie Rogers October 3, 2009 at 8:56 am

I think you’re right about that, Stephen. Lol!
.-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..Saturday Spew And Shout Out: October 3rd 2009. =-.

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Jay Schryer October 2, 2009 at 8:27 am

I don’t know much about the 80-20 rule, but I *do* know that cutting back is a good thing. Paring down to the essentials leaves more time to enjoy the things that are most important to you.
.-= Jay Schryer´s last blog ..These Dreams =-.

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:17 am

Hi Jay and thanks for stopping in. Sounds like you’ve got the 80/20 rule down just right :-)

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Positively Present October 2, 2009 at 10:00 am

You’ve brought up some great points in this post, Stephen. It’s SO important to remember that we can’t be perfect (no matter how much we might want to be) and I’m glad you mentioned the 80/20 rule. That’s a really useful one!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..becoming the me i want to be =-.

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:17 am

Hi Dani. Thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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Vin - NaturalBias October 2, 2009 at 11:04 am

Less is more. :) Trying to be perfect can make you worse off than if you didn’t try as hard. Unfortunately, I know this from experience. I’ve learned the hard way to lower my expectations and standards in regard to less important areas of my life.
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..Improve Your Life by Embracing Your Strengths =-.

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:16 am

Hi Vin. There’s one thing we have that’s limited and that’s time. We’ve become too busy trying to do too much and we are less effective and less happy as a result.

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Dayne | TheHappySelf.com October 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Brilliant post, I really loved reading this. The “80/20 Rule” is something more people really need to know about and learn. It is SO vital to success I think. Lastly, I think we need to try less, and add more awareness and focus into what we really want in life. If we can do that, life will transform.

Thanks for the post!

Dayne
.-= Dayne | TheHappySelf.com´s last blog ..Zen and The Awakened Soul =-.

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:14 am

Hello Dayne and thank you. Have you read Richard Koch’s books on the 80/20 principle? I thought they were interesting.

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BunnygotBlog October 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I use to be an overachiever.Once I changed my goals and job things went in the direction I had always wanted them to go.
Now, I am a wife, daughter and entrepreneur. I have achiever almost everything I wanted to in 31 years and in the next 31 I plan on fulfilling much more in that stage of my life.
I think there comes a point in time when you learn to give your best and not waste time thinking you can perfect something more. People have to learn where to draw the line.
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Garbaolge! =-.

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

Hi Bunny, that’s great! I’m sure your next 31 years are going to be fantastic.

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Jonny October 2, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Yeah baby, Pareto it up Stephen

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Stephen Mills October 3, 2009 at 8:05 am

Hi Jonny, thanks! I will.

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Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker October 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

Being in balance doesn’t mean being perfect. Being in balance is more about going with the flow and enjoying where you are in your life. Being perfect is an extreme and extremes are never healthy. This is a great article. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Attempting to be perfect, do everything perfectly is part of the dysfunction of my childhood of secrets and incest. So much freedom comes from giving that dysfunction up. Going with the flow doesn’t mean that I don’t have plans and dreams. It just means letting go of what isn’t my responsibility in the first place.
.-= Patricia – Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker´s last blog ..Your Outer Conflicts Mirror Your Inner Conflicts =-.

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Diggy - upgradereality.com October 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Heya Stephen!

Yes I agree, I think the theme that goes with this post is that you can please anybody but not everybody. It’s about prioritizing and being as effecient with your time as possible. Sometimes you will do less than needed and sometimes more than needed.

I think that by conciously thinking about it that you have more control over it, but you will never be perfect.

Thanks for the great post!
Have a rockin day
Cheers!
.-= Diggy – upgradereality.com´s last blog ..Introducing Diggy & the 1000 reader challenge! =-.

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Walter October 4, 2009 at 3:05 am

I’m puzzled of the fact that we allow ourself to put much effort on things that will give no lasting benefit. What’s wrong with us. We only realize the important things when we face sudden tragedies. Your 80/20 rules is an awareness for all of us. :-)

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Tracy October 4, 2009 at 10:57 am

Learning to embrace good enough has made such a big difference in my life. It’s amazing how much we put on our plate then wonder what is wrong with us that we can’t do it all.

I try to put my effort where it will matter most and have decided not to be afraid to cut out those things that aren’t helping my long term goals.

When I was a kid, I had to do everything perfectly or I gave up. I can’t imagine how much I missed out on with this policy. This is something I do not want to pass on to my children!

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Ian | Quantum Learning October 5, 2009 at 10:30 am

This ‘good enough you’ is such a powerful concept. It’s great for combating all that internal criticism when comparing myself to some mythical image of ‘perfect’ – whether it’s father, husband, son, blogger .. whatever. ‘Good enough – and slowly learning to be better’
.-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..The miracle of birth =-.

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Dr. Annette Colby October 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I absolutely agree with your blog post. During these past twelve days, my parents have been visiting. At first I thought I could balance everything–work, writing, moving forward with publishing my book, entertaining, and having a good time. I thought that if I just got up a little earlier or went to bed a little later then I could fit it all in. After the first couple of days I felt myself wound up and anxious. So I went inside, assessed my priorities, and made a new decision to not be the “perfectly” balanced person. I don’t see my elderly parents that often, and taking twelve days off wasn’t going to make my business world come tumbling down. After making the decision, I was really able to relax and have a great time with my family. Work is still sitting here waiting and will eagerly accept me back with open arms!

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