There are plenty of get rich quick schemes out there, but the only ones who have gotten rich in that way are the con artists who run them. When talking about get happy quick schemes, you could make a similar point about drug dealers.
As far as real success, real wealth and true happiness is concerned, we can basically take it as a given that real work and true commitment form part of the deal. The dilemma is that very few people desire only one solitary thing. You might want your business to succeed, but not at the cost of your marriage failing. You might want to invest a large sum in a property, but doing so will mean giving up the chance to see Europe this year. Almost every choice we make is not between wanting or not wanting something, but about how much we want it relative to other things that will bring us joy.
Ancient myths abound to caution us about the dangers of obsession: Agamemnon literally sacrificed his daughter for a military victory, only to be killed by his wife in revenge. Midas was granted his wish that everything he touched would turn to gold, but he starved to death since all food turned to precious metal before he could eat it. The morals of these stories are not exactly that we should be careful what we wish for – instead, the lesson is that we shouldn’t ignore the other things that are also important to us.
- Schedule Your Time
Numerous entrepreneurs and high performers have succeeded in their chosen path only to have their lives simultaneously fall apart without them noticing. Everyone who has seriously tried it will agree that planning meetings, sales calls and other tasks in advance and assigning a time block to each makes work much more efficient, but it isn’t immediately clear that the same thing applies to striking a balance between productive time, family, hobbies and all the other things a well-rounded, enjoyable life consists of.
One possible approach to this is to simply consider any time not allocated to a specific task as family or relaxation time. This could work, but there will always be that temptation to stay at the office just a little bit longer, or spend just a little more time studying while your spouse is already waiting at the dinner table. Birthdays and anniversaries should receive special attention in your personal calendar.
- Be More Productive
It’s simplistic and unhelpful to assume that having more free time necessarily means doing less work. The work/life balance is not about sacrificing one in favor of the other; the goal is to make room for them both in terms of time and energy. Working smarter instead of harder frees up both for the activities that mean most to your happiness.
How exactly a person can become more productive depends heavily on their individual circumstances. A good starting point would be to take an inventory of time spent on activities versus the actual outcomes that can be expected from them.
- Health Always Comes First
No imaginable lifestyle is worth having if achieving it leaves you a physical wreck. Time spent on good nutrition, exercise and relaxation – mental health is also important – should be seen as an investment, not a waste.
There are few hacks for this aspect of work/life balancing. If your job is causing you so much stress that you are showing physical symptoms such as muscle spasms or indigestion, it is time to either find new ways of dealing with tension, or rethink the value of having such a job.
- When Relaxing, Relax
It can be extremely difficult to leave all thoughts of work behind after 8, 10 or more hours fixating on it, but this is an essential skill to learn. Any time spent worrying about work while at home not only spoils your enjoyment of “me” time, it does nothing to help you solve whatever problems are confronting you. Sleeping on them instead is much more likely to reveal an unexpected solution.