With today’s busy families and two-income households, one thing that plagues many people is how to create a life that is balanced. Even single people have a hard time with this. Often, life feels like it is consumed with work, with not a lot of down-time to spend with family, friends, having fun, or pursuing personal goals. Without balance, life feels one-sided and unfulfilling. Health and relationships suffer while stress and a feeling of overall dissatisfaction take over.

Everyone needs a healthy balance between their work life and their personal lives, but it is an elusive dream for many reasons. One reason is that work can take up so much time. When there is time for the life part, people are just too stressed or tired. Another reason is that when off from work, many people are not using their time to their advantage. Lacking personal goals, they may use the time in an unsatisfying manner like watching too much television or perusing the internet. And, if they’re tired, and not focused on goals, it’s easy to fall back on something to fill up their lives. Instead of proactively using their time, it is being used passively. Many people complain about the lack of time they have, but what most people don’t realize is that utilizing their free time for endeavors that are satisfying helps to balance out work and their personal lives. The allotment of time may not change, but when you spend the time doing things that are beneficial for your spirit, suddenly work and personal lives feel much more balanced. Some people genuinely like their work; some use work as an escape from an unsatisfactory personal life, but everyone needs time devoted to something besides work.

Finding a work-life balance will create less stress in your life, better health and relationships, and more happiness. What are some steps to help you find balance?
• Write down how you spend your leisure time right now. Be as accurate as possible. See any patterns that could change?
• How can you proactively spend your time away from work in a more meaningful way?
• Write down your goals. Not just for work, but for all areas of your life: career, health, relationships, personal growth, money, fun and recreation, community, and charity. What is one thing you could start doing today that will make a huge difference? Don’t rationalize why you can’t start, just do it.
• What are your needs? What do you need to feel fulfilled in life? Do your needs reflect your values in life? For example, if you need a loving relationship with your partner, is that reflective in your actions? If you need to be healthy, is that reflective in your lifestyle and how you take care of yourself?
• Get more energy to do things in your spare time by exercising. Exercising is sometimes the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling tired, but ironically it gives you more energy. Find a type of exercise that you will look forward to. There’s swimming, biking, hiking, running, walking, tennis, soccer, boxing, yoga, rollerblading—there are so many sports to choose from, choose one or more and make it fun. When you make it fun, you look forward to doing it. Enlist friends, family, or a partner to do it with you so you can fit in your need for connection.
• Change the way you look at balance. If you have to work long hours, make the best of your free time by choosing thoughts that enhance it, as well as activities that are enhancing.

If you have no control over the hours you have to spend at work, then making the best of leisure time is the best way of creating a satisfying and fulfilling life outside of work. Pursuing meaningful goals and activities help to create more positive feelings about how the time is spent away from work. This gives people a sense of control and mastery over their lives. Work-life balance is available to anyone willing to make the effort to attain it. Find out what is fulfilling for you so that in your free time, you can be involved in positive pursuits. Being actively engaged in life instead of sitting passively on the sidelines is the best way to get the most out of life. What are you waiting for? Get out there in the game of life and live!

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Nenninger is the author of "Transforming Divorce - How to Get Back on Track and Create a Life You Love" and the "Transforming Divorce Workbook - How to Make Divorce the Best Thing that Ever Happened to You." Nicole is finishing her advanced degree in psychology and is the founder of www.nicolenenninger.com and co-founder of www.mydailymotivator.com and www.runninglongisland.com, and contributes to www.donnenninger.com. She and her new husband reside in New York with their four children.