Everybody complains about work/life balance and they should. With corporate downsizing, buyouts, and mergers, employees who still have jobs are being asked to do more and more. Cell phones, blackberries, and the Internet make it technologically easy for people to "be at work" twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

Surveys show that employees are unhappy, with too many responsibilities, inadequate management support, and the constant fear of losing their jobs. Adult depression is sky high, and the onset of depression is coming at earlier and earlier ages.

Is a Balanced Life Possible?

With all this, is it possible to have a balanced, fulfilling life? "Search balanced life" or "life balance" in your favorite search engine and you'll find loads of articles, helpful organizations, and lists of life-balancing must-do's. Time management, setting boundaries, saying no, setting aside time for self, meditating, exercising, and eating healthy are among those topics of advice.

Do these things help? Sure, to some extent, but they're seldom long lasting, permanent, life-balancing cures. That's because they address the symptoms, not the core problems. Managing time, setting boundaries, and taking good care of self are useful life skills, but they're not enough to bring you long lasting life balance.

The Fundamentals of a Balanced Life

A well balanced life must be supported by a strong foundation of the fundamental building blocks of good living. I call these the five P's: Life Purpose, Passions, Powers, Principles, and Perspectives.
list and summarize

Purpose is your reason for being. Purpose gives meaning to life and is a fundamental construct of happiness in life. In his recent book, Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar defines happiness as "the overall experience of pleasure and meaning." To be happy we need both meaning and pleasure in our lives, having both a sense of purpose and the experience of positive emotions.

Passions are the activities, the "doing" things of life that allows a person to experience Purpose. Our passionate activities give us energy and are fulfilling.

Powers are our core strengths. Power in this sense is not the domination of others, but the unique and exceptional skills and abilities that set us apart. Everyone is good, very good, at a few things. When we use our special powers we excel.

The combination of using our Powers in doing our Passion activities that align with life Purpose is a dynamite recipe for life balance and success. When our work/life responsibilities allow us to use our Powers and incorporate our Passions, we're very productive and happy. These situations are described by psychologist cheeks as "flow."

Principles are the rules of living we accept for ourselves. These are the "right" things to do, the "right" way to be and do in life. If work responsibilities require us to compromise our Principles we become highly stressed. Obviously, it's very unlikely we'll feel well balanced if we're under stress.

Perspective is the long view of life. Our Perspectives are the fundamental beliefs we hold about life, living, and ourselves.As with Principles, when work or life responsibilities are not congruent with our Perspectives on life, we feel stressed out and imbalanced.

Back to the Fundamentals

A balanced life requires a strong foundation support system. Anchored by Life Purpose, energized by using our unique Powers involved in activities aligned with Passions, living in accordance with our Principles and Perspectives. With these fundamentals in place, the various life skills, among them time management, self awareness, and setting boundaries are useful and helpful tools. But the fundamentals come first.

The Balanced Life E-course is a ten lesson self study course delivered weekly by email. The Balanced Life E-course helps you identify and integrate your Purpose, Passions, Powers, Principles, and Perspectives (the five P's). With exercises, examples, and self reflection sessions, the concepts are easily understood and tailored to your unique life situations. For your balanced life, explore The Balanced Life E-course.

Author's Bio: 

Jerry Lopper (www.selfgrowth.com/experts/jerry_lopper.html) is an author of two personal development books, the Personal Development Writer for Suite101, and an experienced life coach. Jerry's latest project is The Balanced Life E-course (www.balanced-life.biz), a ten lesson self paced course delivered by email. The course fully describes the fundamentals discussed in this article, and how to integrate them into your life for a well balanced, fulfilling life.