work-life balance

5 Simple Steps to Greater Work-Life Balance

Everyone seems to be talking about the health of the country’s economy. And everyone seems to have a theory as to what is causing our economic problems.

I won’t waste your time giving you my theory. But I do know this — your stress and your unhealthy habits not only may be killing you, they may also be hurting your company.

Ron Goetzel, vice president of the Medstat Group, a health information company, found that our nation spends 25% of its total health care tab on medical care for unhealthy habits. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars each year.  Wow!!!

To get more specific, Goetzel studied 46,000 employees, from six different companies, for six years. He found out that the unhealthy habits of these employees cost their employers millions and millions of dollars a year. The sad thing was that all of those costs were unnecessary because all of the habits were changeable.

In a sense, training your employees to get rid of their unhealthy habits and get rid of their stress may be one of the best investments your company can make. There’s almost an immediate return on investment. That’s why, Take This Job and Love It! Keeping Your Balance in a Stressed-Out World, is one of my most-requested keynotes.

What about you? Are you as healthy as you could be? Are you doing everything you can to maximize your health and wellness? Do you have all the work-life balance you would like to have?

Don’t be like the person who said, “I finally got my head together. Now my body is falling apart.”

As you can tell, this topic of healthy work-life balance is one about which I’m quite passionate. I was severely disabled some 30 years ago, with some doctors predicting my future would be a wheelchair. I learned that many of my health problems were coming from my unhealthy habits, but I chose to change them. And I’ve enjoyed incredible health ever since.

Certainly, we all have to deal with genetics, accidents, and other factors over which we have no control. But if you will do the following five things to get rid of your unhealthy habits, your future will be phenomenal.

1. Don’t Fool Yourself.

Don’t delude yourself, thinking that you’ll soon be back to normal. You won’t be — if you keep your unhealthy habits. Don Marquis says, “Middle age is the time when a man is always thinking that in a week or two he will feel just as good as ever.”

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your less-than-stellar health just happened.  Dr. Paul Tournier said, “Most illnesses do not, as is generally thought, come like a bolt out of the blue. The ground is prepared for years through faulty diet, intemperance, overwork, and moral conflicts, slowly eroding the subject’s vitality.”

Instead of trying to fool yourself, instead of pretending you don’t have some unhealthy habits, try proper defiance instead.  As Professor Norman Cousins wrote, “Don’t defy the diagnosis; try to defy the verdict.”

2. Overcome Work-Life Inertia.

In other words, you must overcome laziness.

Unfortunately, it’s easier to keep up your unhealthy habits than change them.

But that’s pure craziness, because deep down you don’t want a life of mediocre health.  You don’t like being sick or sick and tired.  And you don’t enjoy pain and suffering.

You want to be healthy.

Yet you may not be living the healthy life you know you should. You may eat too much; you may exercise too little, and you may know you have some self-destructive habits.

I implore you.  Don’t be like so many people who are slowly killing themselves and doing nothing about it. Don’t be stuck with inertia, as so many are.

You’ve got to overcome it.  And you start when you…

3. Visualize Health.

Take a few moments every once in a while to picture yourself as whole, healthy, and well, whether or not you are. You might even repeat an affirmation to yourself, something like: “I am filled with energy, vitality, and health.”

What you are doing is laying the groundwork for good health, because your life is strongly influenced by your thoughts.

If you dwell on how badly you feel,  you will make yourself sick, even if you’re not. And if you focus on how tired you are, you’ll get more tired.

When you think thoughts of health, however, it goes a long way towards being healthier. When you think energy, you will have more energy. All of this affects your work-life balance.

Almost every day, at one of my programs, someone will ask me about my energy level. They wonder how I keep it up, day after day, year after year, despite my heavy travel schedule. The answer is simple. I don’t think about how tired I “should” feel or how much jet lag I “should” have. I never get jet lag, because I just don’t think about it.

Are your thoughts leading you towards health or towards illness?

Two sisters went Christmas shopping together. One said, “Isn’t it fun? The crowds in the street, the throngs in the stores, and all the new things that are on display. I love to watch people as they shop.”

The other sister remarked, “The crowds drive me crazy! You can hardly move there are so many people. Things are overpriced and all they’re selling is junk. I’m tired, and my feet hurt.”

The next day, the first sister felt fine. The other one went back to bed with a headache. I wonder how much their thoughts contributed to their outcomes.

And then to have healthier work-life balance…

4. Make Conscious Choices.

Every day you make dozens of decisions that affect your health, and ultimately affect your work-life balance. Those decisions will build you up or tear you down.

Unfortunately, most of those decisions are so subtle that you don’t make them consciously. You may not even stop to think whether the food you are putting in your mouth is adding to or subtracting from your health.

You need to get off autopilot and make conscious choices. Take exercise, for example. Instead of just getting on the elevator, you may need … sometimes … to choose to walk up the stairs. You need to consciously choose what will add to your health.

Of course, some people think this conscious choosing will kill all the fun in life. It’s like the doctor who gave his patient the results of his annual physical. He said, “There’s no reason why you can’t live a completely normal life as long as you don’t try to enjoy it.” Or as comedian Johnny Carson said, “I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the time he killed himself.”

That’s not my point at all. Good choices don’t have to kill all the fun in life. I’m simply saying you can have more health if you consciously choose healthy behaviors more often. Don’t let your unhealthy habits be in automatic control of your life.

5. Eat Smart.

Research has proven that good foods add to your health and bad foods sicken or fatten you.

I won’t tell you what foods to eat. You already know more about the foods you should and should not eat than you are probably following. I’m just writing to encourage you to eat smart.

Two of the benefits you’ll get are proper weight and a longer life. The research is very clear. Every bit of excess weight shortens your life.

Perhaps you need to lose weight. I know that’s not easy. I’ve found that the older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then your body and your fat are really good friends. And nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first few hours of a diet.

Some people think diets have to be absolutely awful to work. In other words, if it tastes good, spit it out.

No! A diet can be very simple. As one of my audience members said, she just used one simple exercise for losing weight. She just moved her head slowly from side to side when asked if she wanted a second helping.

Final Thought: Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue #880 – 5 Simple Steps to Greater Work-Life Balance