One myth that has been thrown around in our modern workplace for the past several decades is the idea that you can have it all, but is that really possible? The short answer is NO. It is impossible to commit adequate time to all the responsibilities, needs, and relationships that we juggle with work, family, and community. As we struggle to strike a balance, we subject ourselves to frustration and guilt.

Truthfully it is impossible to achieve balance in your life and have it all. Some people appear to have mastered this, but beneath the surface you can see that they usually fall into one of three self-admitted categories: workaholic, guilt-ridden due to neglected relationships, or full of anxiety to prove their worth on a daily basis.

Six Tips for Prioritizing and Finding Balance

While it is unrealistic to believe we can accomplish anything we want and achieve a balance simultaneously, we can learn to prioritize what is really important and avoid wasting time on things of little value. After all, life is about tradeoffs. By striving for achievement 24/7, we will be perpetually stressed and full of guilt for things left neglected. Here are some tips for prioritizing to strike a true balance:

1. Recognize that there are not enough hours in the day, or in a lifetime, to do every valuable, worthwhile thing you want to do in life.

2. Take personal inventory of what you value in order of importance so you can better understand your priorities.

3. Acknowledge that the things most important to you require a major investment of time and energy. This could be your career, family, work project, personal challenge, or other circumstance. For success in these areas, you will have to sacrifice time and energy in other areas important to you. Balancing won’t work.

4. View life as a chapter book, with each chapter having a unique responsibility and priority. One chapter may be education and preparation for your career, another caring for children, dedication to your spouse, and addressing the needs of aging parents. Whatever the chapter, look for balance among the chapters instead of within each chapter. Each will demand different levels of commitment at different times.

5. Modify your standards when necessary. Often we put a great deal of pressure ourselves with incredibly high expectations—even higher than others have for us. This leads to additional guilt and stress because we inevitably neglect some areas of importance to meet the self-inflated expectations of others.

6. Focus on the here and now. Learn to “switch and link,” or quickly switch your complete attention to a variety of people or activities. How can you do this? Turn off the phone when you are eating dinner with your family, only check email at designated points during the day, and leave your devices at home when you are supposed to be on vacation.

Take control of the time you have and actively decide what is most important to you. 

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