The Ultimate Guide to Finding Balance
This is guide is originally part of a 33-page pdf guide. It’s 10,482 words long with the specific 8-part system that help me achieve my aspirational goals at work , life, relationships, and everything in between. Subscribe And Download The FULL PDF Here
Why I created this Ultimate Guide:
I’ve talked to a lot of friends about their challenges these first 3-4 years working in their jobs. Many people said:
“My biggest challenge was finding balance… I ate what was easy and cheap, only focused on work and never made time for friends and I had a major burnout, my work suffered and I became miserable.”
“After leaving school, I got caught off guard by issues coming from everywhere, from my famaily, friends. There were so much going on and I got really depressed by it, because it seemed I couldn’t solve anything and felt my life was fallling apart.”
“Biggest challenge would have to be making time for non-work related things in my life, like fitness routine and the hobbies I used to make time for. I think there’s this added pressure now that we’re earning money with our work/skills, and more often than not I end up working longer hours than what is ‘minimum’… I realized I neglected a lot of the things that made me ~happy~ when I started working.”
Then I realized that many of my friends asked me how I seem to achieve so much – working out, traveling, eating well, maintaining strong relationships, going out, while doing so well in school and in my 20% projects.
So, that’s how I created this super long post to make sure I bring the most value to you. I have added everything I’ve used including schedules, experiments, thought provoking questions, and worksheets.
1. The 12 jam-packed worksheets with core frameworks you need to succeed
2. The easy-to-read Print version for Printing or your iPad during commute. (NOTHING beats writing concrete plans down.)
These examples and worksheets are not included here in the web article, but is the most LOVED part about this pdf.
What people have said:
“I liked how honest and open you are with your own experiences throughout which, like the articles you sent me, makes it really relatable and friendly… I really like the worksheets, particularly the concept of noting down 3 accomplishments for the day. If nothing else, I’ll commit to doing that for the next two weeks – I find it’s very easy to get caught up in the day to day and not realise that actually you’re doing good stuff. One of the other useful aspects was the value/action tables. I’m someone who is terrible at doing PDRs – I know I’ve achieved a lot but putting that into words somehow is always quite taxing for me. Your emphasis on the SMART concept is great and I’ll try and invoke some of that into my next PDR.”
Here you are:
The Ultimate Guide to Finding Balance
The 8-Part Anti-Procrastination System that Helped Me Achieve My Aspirational Goals at Work, Life, Relationships, and Everything in between.
Comment below with questions, what you’ve done, what worked, what didn’t work. Share the love! If you want a community, YOU’RE in charge of building the conversation
TABLET OF CONTENTS
Before We Begin
A Balanced Lifestyle will Give You Time & Efficiency
#1 “I’m Tired All The Time”
#2 “I’m Uninspired, Even With All The Things I Constantly ‘Do’”
#3 “I Keep Comparing Myself To Other More Successful People”
#4 “I Want Balance But I Don’t Know What Exactly I’m Missing”
#5 “I Need To Keep Myself Focused On My 1-2 Year Goal!”
#6 “I’m Scared, Even Though There’s So Much I Want To Achieve”
#7 “I’m Always Bombarded With The Day To Day Stuff!”
#8 “Now That I Have My Plans in Place, Now What?”
BONUS: 12 Jam-packed Worksheets in PDF
“Balance is wanting more but ultimately having the patience and trust that everything will work out perfectly fine”
Back then, I questioned my own capabilities and progress towards my life. I felt like I wasn’t good enough nor moving fast enough to get to where I wanted to be. I needed tools to continue, to work towards finding my passion as well as maintaining my balance – for work, for life. I was (and sometimes still am) constantly filling my busy schedule with random activities/or just reacting to what others are asking me to do. Then you end up burning out after a month or two.
When I went through that in my 20s, I kept turning to the internet, reading articles after articles on habits & motivation to keep going. Unlike what I read on the internet about various “hacks”, I needed something much much more fulfilling. I needed something that could help me master living in the moment like the articles would teach. But, I also needed something that could help me jumpstart my career while maintaining progress in other important areas eg. friends, family, fitness, art. Then, Bessy Tam, InYour20s.com If at any point you have anything to share – questions, ideas, feelings, excitement! – feel free to join the InYour20s Facebook Community or reach out to me personally at email@example.com or Facebook Messenger (@bessytam). If you like this guidebook, please shoot me a note and definitely share it with those who might appreciate this! Eventually, I built what I call the “Balance System”, something that you’ll get to build yourself through this 30 page book that only works for YOU. This formula allowed me to get promoted twice in 2 years, travel every half year for work, speak in front of huge audiences, AND be the fittest, healthiest (sick once a year), and most sociable I’ve ever been. These are ALL the things that keep me going in life. That’s why I can’t wait to share it with you (with the templates too)!
What to Expect
This guidebook will show you how to create your own “Balance System” in 8 parts. These are simple strategies implemented on a regular basis that will allow you to balance time in the things that really matter. This means, work towards your career goals while you incorporate systems to live in the moment everyday, whether in relationships and/or health.
Finding Balance simply is the process of collecting fulfilling achievements and great memories consistently and continuously. This guidebook will help you build success in the long term according to your core values and goals by creating guidelines in scheduling the needed steps towards your ultimate goal. This guidebook will help you build trust and confidence even when you feel lonely going through the unconventional path by guiding you to create mindset frameworks. This guidebook will also help you focus by realizing and prioritizing your core needs and stripping off the noise. And of course, this guidebook will also help you learn to be present by taking A LOT of thinking time to relearn what type of person you want to become everyday. What can I do today that makes me happy and productive?? How do I make progress on the things that matter to me? What surprisingly made me feel AWESOME today that I could do again tomorrow or this week? I’ve been asked about my approach for years, friend to friend. That’s how InYour20s.com was born, to help me build a platform that answers their questions but also help as many people as possible to find answers to difficult career and success topics. Of course, I’m not doing it all by myself. I’m bringing in all the experts, mentors, thought leaders, and executives that will help us learn more about what’s ahead and what’s proven. Next off, jump to the next “Before we Begin” session to learn about what you’ve been waiting for. Who is this guidebook best for? What exactly will we walk through?
Who this Guidebook is NOT for If you want things to change, YOU have to adjust. If you just want a quick fix, then walk away. I’m here to give you tools to understand more about what’s hindering your progress to find balance but not tell you what to do. In the end, I’m not You! Also, if you’re not ready to set aside a few hours each week to prioritize yourself then this is not for you. You want to let everyone else walk all over your life then that’s your choice. If that’s you, my suggestion would be to print this, bookmark this, and look at it again in the next half year to see if you’re ready then. On the other hand, f you’re willing to set aside time to dedicate, then keep reading!
BEFORE WE BEGIN
Who this Guidebook is NOT for
If you want things to change, YOU have to adjust. If you just want a quick fix, then walk away. I’m here to give you tools to understand more about what’s hindering your progress to find balance but not tell you what to do. In the end, I’m not You! Also, if you’re not ready to set aside a few hours each week to prioritize yourself then this is not for you. You want to let everyone else walk all over your life then that’s your choice. If that’s you, my suggestion would be to print this, bookmark this, and look at it again in the next half year to see if you’re ready then. On the other hand, f you’re willing to set aside time to dedicate, then keep reading!
This Guidebook is for Those of You Who Are…
• Satisfied with your job right now but looking to truly maximize your contribution in your work/ personal life
• Determined to fulfill your passions despite challenges
• Know what needs to be done but need a systematc approach to be motivated everyday (every 2 months you burn out/get stuck/feel demotivated & uninspired)
Let me Manage your Expectations
There will be times you think certain sections are not important, but stick with it. You won’t get a promotion or be “enlightened” overnight. Instead, I’ll give you tools that will allow you to create your Balance System. How much time this process will take you depends on how long you take to grasp each concept. In the end, the journey is different for everyone. My suggestion is to not rush it, let yourself deeply submerge into each exercise, and focus on creating your own happiness vs what you think society expects to make you happy
What We Will Go Through in this Guidebook
In the next few days, we will…:
1. Understand the basics – what Finding Balance will bring to your life and go through your bodily needs
2. Understand what’s stopping you from being motivated – Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility and always comparing ourselves with others (and how to stop doing so).
3. Get to the more advanced concepts – how your bodily chemicals and mind affects your happiness. This is where you’ll learn more about what actually contributes to your well-being and how you can add them to your daily life with prioritization and scheduling. 1. Implement long term habits to continually learn & relearn about what actually makes you productive & energetic. This part is what makes your “Balance System” last a lifetime
What I Ask from You
Be willing to learn and give 100% Dedication. This means:
1. Going through the exercises written thus prioritizing your needs in your schedule (or worksheets at the back) as I guide you through each section
2. Prioritizing your own happiness and needs no matter what crap life throws at you
3. Taking action no matter how scared you are
4. Being open to relearn who you are and what you need. This means, being brutally honest with yourself and ready to throw out everything you think you want 5. Reminding yourself about the tools and your notes in the guidebook in order to always be on track. 6. Share and love the journey. The thicks & thins.
You’re IN! You’ll Need:
1. A note taker app – You can choose from apps such as Evernote, Google Keep, OneNote, Google Docs, or other similar ones
2. A clear schedule. You need a two week period of
3. Some self-loving – pick out your favourite time of day, favourite place in town, favourite comfort clothes , even favourite pen and notebook when you’re working on this guidebook
4. To print this out and grab a pen (worksheets at the back). If it’s digital, you’ll be distracted with notifications or you won’t remember/brainstorm much (Hack: If you’re in a learning curve, you remember 25% of what you type vs 50% of what you write. 75% if you reteach it)
5. Google Calendar – or some sort of digital calendar to put recurring reminders in. Start by drawing it out first on the calendar tables provided for you at the back of this guidebook. This is CRUCIAL so you won’t slip off your plan or forget. Either way, you want to reduce your risk of failing at creating your formula
Now It’s All on You! Because everyone’s definition of happiness is completely different, it’s crucial that I don’t tell you what to do or not to do. I’m only here to guide you. How deep you get into it is based on how much clear thinking time and self-analysis you get to have.
FINDING BALANCE MEANS HAPPINESS, WHICH WILL IN RETURN GIVE YOU TIME & EFFICIENCY
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — OSCAR WILDE
Things are going to get tough this year as you focus on your goals. Let’s focus on the WHY, and what achieving balance will bring you:
You’ll Attract Great People
You’ll do better with the right people around you. As long as you are happy – knowing what you want in your work and who you are, you’ll also attract smart people who have similar values and know what they want. The demotivated and unhappy people will also weed out because they won’t get what they want out of you anymore.
Great People Will Be Attracted To You
At the same time, other great people are testing your energy too. They also want to know whether you can add value to their life. Even if you can’t help with anything else such as smarts or skills, the best way to attract great mentors and managers is through your positive vibes.
You’ll Have Better Relationships (and Energy)
While you can weed out some relationships, you can’t weed out your family members, coworkers, school friends, or boyfriend/girlfriends. They will always be around, that’s why you have to ensure that these relationships are always well groomed in order fo your to have more time and energy to focus on other important things in your life. Mind you, it’s not about spending more time with them, instead it’s about being happy yourself first. That’s how great relationships blossom, when two happy people come together.
You’ll Live Longer With Your Strong Social Circle
The longest longitudinal study of happiness (conducted since 1940) states, “People who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier. They’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected.” (TED Talk)
You’ll Be More Confident
Self-confidence has always been a key driver of success. You’ll feel more safe to take risks: to ask more questions and favors, take on challenging opportunities at work, and share more tasks in teams to excel. Most importantly, you’ll trust your skillsets, time management, involvement at work, and value added in projects. With the added experiences, you’ll then be willing push for promotions and recognition.
You’ll Have More Fun
Because you know how to balance your time and energy on the now versus your career goals, you’ll get a broader perspective on having fun in life. An unbalanced lifestyle only occurs when you’re not confident in yourself. You end up overcommitting to toxic friendships or staying at work till 9pm. Focused, Balanced, successful people are clear on their objectives – how much money they need, how much time they need to invest, what kind of relationships are valuable, and how to balance their interests and priorities. In between of course, leaving some spontaneous fun-time for all the excitement, love, and adventure life has to offer.
You’ll Be More Decisive
Life is about the accumulation of smaller decisions you make in life towards your greater goals. At that moment, whether you decide to work a bit more, run a little harder, be a bit more bold, ask a few more questions. Your laser focus & motivation will allow you to strongly understand that you have no choice but to prioritize your own needs. This means, no matter how hard it is to choose between activities, it’s very easy for you to understand how these smaller decisions add up to the bigger purpose. Then, you’ll spend less time thinking and procrastinating. Instead, you’ll spend more time doing and taking quick action to get to your goals.
You’ll be More Deliberate with Your Time
At the same time, life is knowing when you need to balance grit and having fun, thinking and doing, resting and maximizing, connecting and disconnecting. This balance is the essence of being productive and effective with your time.
Unbalanced people in the grind may feel lost, uncertain, rushed, or stressed. On the other hand, balanced people in the grind know that in the end, it’s not about rushing to get things done. That it’s about trusting their very own Balance System to:
1. Live a life that’s aligned with their values and career goals but also
2. Understand what their values and goals are in the first place. This means they’ll spend the same amount of time building their career portfolio, goals, and value map as they would to network, learn more about themselves, and do what they love.
THE 8-PART SYSTEM
“One should eat to live, not live to eat” — BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
#1 “I’m Tired All The Time” – Getting Your Basic Needs Right To Get Energy [15-30m]
When people think about Finding Balance, they always stress about “accomplishing their life goals” or “fulfilling their life’s purposes.” Before that, there’s a few Basic Needs that we can cover first to attain daily motivation such as water and nutrient intake. These simple needs are often overlooked even though they’re essential because they’re already so accessible everyday and rarely deeply thought into.
So, getting high performance energy might not be as hard as we think it is. We just need to get the basics right. Take a look at the chart below and have a quick check-in on how you’re doing.
Add these habits into your calendar (worksheets at the back of the PDF print out).
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – A model in psychology that shows the step-by-step progression of human needs (start your way from the bottom towards the top) (Source: Simple Psychology)
We have great access to food, snacks and drinks around every corner. But this doesn’t mean we’re giving our bodies what we need. We’re just getting what our brains want based on boredom, products’ marketing, and what’s accessible.
• Food: Understand how many calories you need to eat (Calorie Calculator). Get your macros as well as micros (add supplements if as needed) – Loads of greens, less processed foods, less carbs, way more protein (1 gram protein per pound of body weight per day). You can block your calendar for 4-5 smaller meals per day or larger ones. Pack your food for the day. Eat within a 9-11hr window. The better you eat (notice it’s not “the more” you eat), the more you won’t get hanger pangs!
• Water: Calculate your water intake needs and block your calendar to remind yourself. How I do it: 2 glasses in the morning, 1 before and after I work out, 1 each time I feel like I want to snack (I drink water so I don’t end up snacking), 1 before each meal, 1-2 before bed. More water = more energy.
• Rest: No screens/work 1 hour prior bed, get a great pillow and solid curtains, no coffee in the afternoon or nightcaps, sleep before 12am for 7-8 hours, wake up everyday at around the same time.
We’re definitely anxious without our “dream job” because we feel “insecure” and “unsafe” not knowing what is going to happen. However, just stick with where you currently are (you’re safe!) and feel secure in your consistent effort & small progress everyday.
BELONGING AND LOVE NEEDS:
In our instant messaging & social media cultures, it’s so much easier to reach out to people and “stay connected.” However, quantity is not quality! Try saying spending more face to face time with coworkers, family, and friends vs email, texts, and social media. Try making sure to say “Hello, how are you doing?” to a different coworker every day. Mark down at a minimum once a week to meet a friend and once with family. Schedule these few hours accordingly. No phones when you’re meeting them!
SELF ESTEEM NEEDS: You’ve fulfilled this by working really hard, earning your own income now, and pushing through your life’s challenges so far. We even have a higher earning potential than our parents’ generation (CNN) which is great! However, we feel that we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, that we’re “not accomplishing enough”and other friends on social media always seem like they’re having so much more fun! (See Pg. 10, comparing yourselves to others).
Take Action: You may not feel that you’ve accomplished a lot the past year but I challenge you to take this weekend to revamp your resume, you’ll find you’ve done a lot. Another simple way to re-start the momentum and self-confidence is to create a To-do list with 3 important tasks per day. This may be 3 for work and 3 for personal daily goals (hugging people, going to the gym for 30 mins, drinking 8 glasses of water).
Don’t put more because you want them to be big movers.
Try for 2 weeks first. Whatever is significant to you for the month, break them down to smaller wins per day/week to boost your confidence and esteem.
Another trick is, before you sleep, ask yourself “What 3 things did I accomplish today?” Think from the moment you woke up, even if it’s the fact that you chose to eat boiled eggs vs a muffin, I promise you it’s a great way to feel proud of yourself. Appreciate your persistence, hard work, diligence, and open heart. Most importantly, remind yourself of the special gift only you can bring to the world!
Because we’re not tied down to work for survival compared to the industrialization period, we have the time and freedom to do what we find creative, challenging, or fulfilling. Society also rewards us if we put in the effort to conquer something massively fearful or different. Only when we challenge ourselves do we push towards reaching our full potential.
Take Action: It’s definitely scary to always push our limits to grow. My rule of thumb is to always do something that scares me everyday. Whether it’d be talking to the new person in the office or training to run a half-marathon (mind you, it’s dreadful. But i’m positive it’ll be worth it). You need to push your boundaries and sometimes you need to stay a little later at work, wake up a little earlier in the morning, or be vulnerable to learn new things even if it’s admitting you’ve done something wrong. By putting down your guard, you’ll allow yourself give your all into everything that you do and push your boundaries. Of course, you don’t need to do too much. Focus only on one long term goal for 5 months to 1 year first.
Conclusion: Make sure to always gut-check your different levels of needs by looking at Maslow’s hierarchy chart.
Make adjustments to balance out your life accordingly in each area by doing a bi-weekly or monthly review / planning.
Make sure to plan the habits eg. 9pm screens off and read book, 9:45 write 3 accomplishments for today and 3 goals for tomorrow in journal, 10pm sleep, 6am wake up, 9am arrive in the office and say hi to 2 people, etc.
But also, make sure to schedule in the next few weeks for one-time things like “buy a new pillow, buy 2 huge water bottles for the office and for home, get new workout clothes!, revamp resume”
Questions? Join the InYour20s Facebook Community to discuss more or reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org /Facebook Messenger
#2 “I’m Uninspired, Even With All The Things I Constantly ‘Do’” – Law of Marginal Utility [15m]
CEOs, multi-billionaires, or people in urban areas may be more prone to depression as they earn more money (World Health Organization and CNN). It may be due to lacking one significant part of Maslow’s pyramid (likely Self-Fulfillment and Love) as mentioned in the previous principle (Section #1).
Tony Robbins also talks a lot about this, the Science of Achievement and Art of Fulfillment.
Another reason is because of diminishing fulfillment as we are constantly exposed to high stimulation. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that at some point, the added value of one more consumption of something decreases as you consume more and more of it.
For multi-billionaires, the incremental millions or billions of dollars are simply not as fulfilling anymore.
For us the more we consume, the more we talk about having “1st World Problems” or about social media trends every single moments of our lives, the more we seem “Blasé”.
This just means you can’t always have too much of something or anything.
Take Action: If you’re constantly exposed to something you love make sure you have a cleanse from time to time. Make sure to schedule it in your calendar.
This may mean:
• A diet cleanse (cutting out your favorite unhealthy foods for a period of time)
• A caffeine/alcohol cleanse (only drinking coffee or drinks on and off every 2 months, or alcohol every month)
• A tech cleanse (important! turning off your phone and laptops for a day or half on the weekend)
• A materialistic cleanse (Rewarding yourself with an expensive gift/pamper only every 3 months)
• A work cleanse (marking in travel time every 3 months, even if it’s a short weekend trip)
• A social cleanse (going to party with your friends only every few months)
• An indoor cleanse (marking in exploration/outdoor time every few weeks)
Good stuff can also have a cleanse or change that allows you to learn and explore:
• A workout cleanse (switching your workout to another one – makes your muscles learn new habits)
• A schedule cleanse (switching when you do a certain habit eg. when you eat your breakfast, write emails, make presentation decks)
Feel free to add anything else you may think of in the comments below. These are only the most common cleanses I’ve used. You may really like to watch TV shows and can use a cleanse once a week.
#3 “I Compare Myself To Other More Successful People” – Winners Lose by Glancing Off Track [2m]
“The trouble is, you think you have time” — JACK KORNFIELD
In an internet-driven world, the faster we can access information the more we can compare ourselves to others: especially those who are doing better than us. Well guess what, everyone’s putting up a front or ideal image of themselves on social media and news anyway.
You need to understand, in human psychology, the more we know, the more we want. They say ignorance is bliss for a reason. Once you know something, you can’t ever wipe it of of your mind whether the articles your read are titles about 20 year old CEOs or “what you should be doing when you’re 23.” Social media even helps you indulge more into this type of content because their algorithm remembers what you like and don’t like, and feeds you crap accordingly.
All this reading and comparison really makes us do is put ourselves down, thinking we won’t be able to achieve whatever we’re comparing ourselves to. Or just wasting your time really.
Take Action: Imagine a winning track & field runner in a race. The one thing they never do is look back at their opponents or else they’ll trip and lose
The same thing for you, don’t focus on what other people are doing because everyone comes from a different background and environment. If you look back, you won’t have time to look forward and focus on your goals.
So ultimately, you can’t apply to yourself what your opponents are doing. The only exception is learning from masters of your field who are way way ahead of the game. In that way, you’re studying the formula to win instead of comparing yourself (because you KNOW you won’t catch up to them anytime soon).
Focus on doing what you can do today. Take action daily on your long terms so that you’ll be too busy to compare yourself to peers. After 1-2 years, you’ll probably be shocked at how much you’ve achieved in the past year.
And stop looking at so much BS on the internet and start taking action!
“There will always be competition, especially in showbiz. There’s always someone younger and hungrier standing behind you; there’s always someone with more contacts; there’s always someone whose grandfather or father is a filmmaker. I think your job is just to be there 100% – you work hard, and there are no shortcuts to success.” — PREITY ZINTAl
#4 “I Want Balance But I Don’t Know What Exactly I’m Missing” – Understand How Bodily Chemicals Contribute to Energy [15-30m]
As Huffington Post and general science mentions, happiness/energy is triggered by various neurotransmitters or chemicals in your brain. These chemicals include dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. These chemicals are present in every one’s brain, however the levels of each are different for all. What we can do though is control our actions that can help produce more of these chemicals in our brains.
Break down your goals down to smaller achievable pieces, eg. 3 goals a day, 1 achievable item in 1 hour.
Allow others to give you positive reinforcement/verbal appreciation. The more you positively reinforce others, you can attract people who will give you positive feedback as well. (This is the same idea as immediate Facebook likes and why it’s so satisfying).
Get some sun at least 15 minutes to 20 minutes a day, also take time to reflect on your achievements in the past. Reflect on how others value you and love you, similar to a meditation or gratitude practice, Also, make sure to help people! Helping people will increase your sense of self-importance, increasing your serotonin levels in return whilst doing good for others.
Make sure you’re not only thinking about yourself, your own needs, but how you can build relationships and the community as a whole. 5 Love Languages states that humans have 5 different ways of giving and receiving love.
Part of human nature is needing this love fundamentally (refer to Section #1 Maslow’s Hierarchy). You can do many things on a daily basis such as giving hugs and kisses, doing some errands for a loved one, giving positive comments if someone did something you appreciate, or buying a small coffee for someone. If you want to learn more, check out thisLifehacker article that deep-dives into this topic and how it helps relationships.
Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise to elevate your heart rate everyday and pump endorphins in your body. It can be a simply walking home, taking the stairs vs escalators, getting off the bus early to get to work, or accumulated walking throughout the day from your desk to the water cooler. In addition, make sure to always laugh more. Small doses of spicy foods, dark chocolate, and and/or lavender scents also work. These will all increase your endorphin levels, with exercise being priority! It will help ease your “fidgety” or overwhelmed feeling, and give you a calmer, greater sense of control. This is why a lot of successful people go for a run or swim in the mornings.
Conclusion: The major part of being energized and motivated is understanding you as a person and understanding objectively how you can ignite your motivation. With stronger understanding of your mind, your body, and human nature overall, you’ll only then be able to create a formula for yourself to be motivated, whenever you suddenly feel down.
Questions? Join the InYour20s Facebook Community to discuss more or reach out to me personally at email@example.com /Facebook Messenger
#5 “I Need To Keep Myself Focused On My 1-2 Year Goal!” – Understand How You Might Fail [1 hour]
Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” — J.K. Rowling
Here you’ll create your fail-proof Balance System. You already know what you value in life, what exactly you need to work on NOW to gain motivation, and what you need to laser focus on these 1-2 years.
Creating Your Fail-Proof Balance System
Use the worksheets at the back of this guidebook (“VALUES/ACTIONS”) or find five A3 papers to brainstorm. Seprate each into 6 sections (see right) and title them accordingly.
1.“Value”: Each of each 5 sheets will represent 1 value. In section 1, top left corner of the landscape sheet, write down the first value. It can also be a solid goal. (Have a go at it first, and then you can see mine later in this section)
2.“Why”: Write down 3 points on why this value is important.
3. “Triggers”: Explain how certain situations/environments/people trigger a de-motivated or negative reaction from you. Even underlying issues from childhood/family.
4. “Decisions/Actions”: Identify 3 Decisions/Actions that will contribute to fulfilling the value on a daily basis. They should be specific, measurable, and timely (SMART)
5. “How I Might Fail”: Identify 3 ways how you might fail to do each of the decisions/actions (or how you’ve actually failed in the past)
6. “Combat Failures”: Write down another set of decisions/actions to minimize chances of you failing
My Own Real Example as I reflected on work (2 yrs into same job, After Re-Org):
OKRs: Watch this YouTube Video
Example of a BAD Decision/Action
So I actually wrote my value for the first time… then re-wrote my “Decision/Action.”
Can you see what’s wrong with the below compared to the one in the previous page? … they’re not SMART actions! Not timely, and NOT measureable. Make sure to look over you worksheet to identify any pitfalls.
Note: Notice how after I changed my “Decisions/Actions’ (shown in the page before), the “How I Might Fail” and “Combat Failures” section also changed?
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Here we will set ourselves for success and manage our own expectations – to make sure that in every situation in our life, we are always planning ahead, taking ownership, and making conscious decisions. This way, you can prepare yourself on what you’d say or do for each foreseeable failure as well. By having a pre-modem “How I Might Fail” section, you’ll lessen your chances of giving yourself an excuse when your demotivated and ultimately chances to fail/re-fail.
is making sure that your fulfillment is at least achievable 80% of the time and everything else needs to be let go. It’s impossible for me to go to the gym 10 times a week due to balance in work, family, relationships, friendship, and personal work. There’s always a need to prioritize and weigh the costs of doing too much at once.
What you can do is compromise.
Work out 3-6 per week but make sure I stick to the slow-carb diet. And everything else falls in between the lines. In the end, it’s the effort that counts to perform the work. This will allow yourself to understand that you’re doing your best to fulfill your needs with the situation you have at hand. I call this pivoting. Take a look at your 5 values, the Decisions/Actions, and see if everything is too much. Then re-evaluate.
Taking Action Immediately
You will need to start immediately, but start small. Start with one of the Decisions/Actions or Combat Failures and work your way to include all of them in your schedule. Make sure to focus on conquering one value for 2-3 weeks first. Then conquer another one for the next 2-3 weeks while maintaining the first one.
Adjust and add along the way if you realize you want to add another value.
Master for 2 years
Look at my very first version 3 years ago (picture on the right, More in the worksheets). Values are:
1. Relationships (being communicative and affectionate of my love)
2. Career (being 100% AWESOME at what I do in my job)
3. Health (doing everything I can to maintain a healthy lifestyle, thus raise self-confidence). Notice I chose 3 to focus on (boosts Dopamine).
Now I’m redoing this process because I’m 3 years in the same job now. I’m overdue on a career change. (see on InYour20s “The Ultimate Guidebook to Decide your Next BIG Career Change”.
In addition, I can say I’ve mastered all of what I have on the wall! Everything that I’ve written down, I’ve obtained.
My Very First Version (few months after I started working):
Ultimately the key to succeeding is being able to say no to things that contradict to your values. This means, don’t evaluate your strengths based on your ability to complete everything. Evaluate your strength based on your efforts! Nobody is perfect and things will always get in the way. When we understand this, the only thing you can do is take baby steps to make things better. And by moving forward with your goals, at the same time communicating your progress, I’m positive you’ll manage to inspire others along the way.
#6 – “I ‘m Scared Even Though There’s So Much I Want To Achieve” – Understand and Change Your Body Language [30 min]
You can change how you feel by taking control of how your body is positioned. You might’ve heard something called Laughing Yoga where people come together to laugh for an hour. The concept is that the act of laughing will create happiness chemicals (Refer back to Section #4) to change how you feel. (Body Language of Happiness and Joy) .
PART 1: UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU
What we want to do is understand more about what our body is telling us right now through our body language instead of us pinpointing what we’re feeling “scared”. Why? Where did this feeling come from?
At this very moment, I want you to close your eyes and picture a time when you felt a huge positive emotion (eg. Confident, proud, happy, excited, passionate, inspired, loved). How did you look? What’s your physical stance? What were your body positions and facial expressions? Write down what you see/feel.
Now imagine another time you were afraid, or about to go on stage to speak. What was your body like? Were you sweating, panting, or exhilarated? What were your body indications? Write down what you see/feel.
The idea is, you have to find a way to understand what you’re feeling and what your body is telling you. You can learn more here:ChangingMinds.org
PART 2. GET SELF-AWARE ANYTIME, ANYWHERE
Example (for myself at this moment): Where is this girl (me): Cafe in a restaurant full of people
• What I’m doing: Sitting at my laptop fully concentrated and focused, eating food really fast
• What would I seem like to a stranger looking at me?: It’d look like I’m intensely challenged by something, very focused and thoughtful. Looking around occasionally to gather some thoughts. Why? They’d say “Because it seems that whatever she is doing, it’s quite difficult but looks fulfilling – she hasn’t moved for a while and seems to not let anything get in her way. She also has earphones on, so maybe she doesn’t want people to bother her. Sometimes she stops and looks like she’s creatively thinking”
• Physical Stance/Facial: Sitting my laptop fully concentrated hunched over, Sometimes scratching temples, face super close to the laptop. Legs crossed. Eyebrows squeezed really tight. Isn’t it after work? Her elbow is also on the computer and rubbing her eyes. Maybe she’s been working for the whole day and super tired.
• Feelings: The stranger might think it’s ”Very unwelcoming, stressful, I don’t want to bother her. There’s never a smile on her face too, just intense concentration”
• My own reflection: This is what I look like when I’m super concentrated or overstressed. But it seems very unwelcoming and distant from others which is something I definitely don’t want, especially in the workplace. I should sit up and take breaks from looking at my computer every 30 mins to socialize. This is also why (linking back to Section #5, that my coworker doesn’t give me feedback or guidance). Maybe I just look deadfaced, that I seem like I know what I’m doing! Now I know why people are hesitant to talk to me at work sometimes.
PART 3. MAKE A PLAYBOOK
The third step, is to be able to figure out what you’re feeling anytime & why (Pt ii), and take actions according to your feelings (Pt iii). You write all of these down in a note. One note for each situation.
For example, I observe that I’m leaning back, juggling my seating position, feeling some sweaty palms, and scrunching my eyes during a C-level meeting (just recently!) Then I think during the meeting,“I must be afraid of something, maybe I’m afraid of looking young and inexperienced.” By doing this “scan”, you can then dive deep into the actual emotion, why the emotion is brought up in your particular situation, and go according to your “Playbook” to combat this particular emotion.
So first part of the Playbook, diving deep into the emotion: I get really scared and intimidated when I’m in a room with CEOs or people generally smarter than me aka my colleagues. And this was always a fear in school, in class, running a school organization, etc. People were always generally older than I was and always challenging credentials. However, I know that I won’t do myself justice if I end up being scared and not speaking up. Most of all, I’m probably not doing myself justice by not sharing the value I can bring to the table. By doing this quick scan and thinking through my feelings before I walk into the meeting room, or when I realize I’m not speaking up during the meeting, then I run through my Playbook.
This is the 2nd part: I think through a time when I combated my fear of seeming young (in another meeting, or talking in front of a class full of seniors in middle school). I do my power moves, stand straight, maybe even just put my hands on my hips and stand tall and cheer a little with fist pumps! If i’m already in a meeting and realize my body stance, I have a different playbook. I think through why the person is not better than I am. I then jot notes of their key challenges/where I can add value in clear bullet points and speak up in my next chance.
The whole process was less than 10 seconds in my head. But It instantly produced a very positive effect on my psychology and body, I felt and looked more confident. I can also immediately see the positive impact to those I’m speaking to too! Respect, YES! Because, I know my added value. I just need to be not afraid to go for it!
PART 4. SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
When you get an impulsive negative emotion at any time, take this 5-second exercise into account. Run it in your head. Think in a third person perspective, and scan your body language, voice tone/volume, facial expressions, understand why, and how you might like the situation to be different. Then quickly change your bodily positions (and psychology) so that you can portray the YOU that you want to be.
The aim of gaining an objective perspective both in your written words but also in your body is to help guide yourself slowly into the direction of being calm, having clarity, and changing your state. This state is hard to achieve, the same way kids throw tantrums because they don’t have an objective understanding of the environment, their own feelings, and they feel out of control. The more you understand yourself, the more you know what your gut is telling you and be able to find a solution quickly, instead of being in a constant funky state, feeling disorientated or confused as to why you don’t feel balanced
Questions? Join the InYour20s Facebook Community to discuss more or reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org /Facebook Messenger
#7 “I’m Always Bombarded With The Day To Day Stuff!” – Taking Action with Intent [1 hour]
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” —CHARLES DUHIGG, POWER OF HABIT
At this point, getting yourself to a motivated state is probably extremely hard – our generation always rethinks and rethinks what else is out there, whether my current situation is where I want to be forever.
However, the more we learn and take action everyday, the more we work towards an easier state of “maintaining” the balance versus “building” the habits of finding balance (similar to starting a new diet or gym routine).
The same was in Section #5, where you create goals and timely actions to work towards your goal, you will do the same here, except in your calendars. The reason why we need to have them ingrained into our calendars is because a lot of our decisions are subconscious as mentioned in #5 (subconscious decisions are made 7 seconds before our conscious mind knows them), we need to build a strong system for ourselves that allows good decisions, what we call good habits, so that we don’t allow any room for us to make bad decisions by the end of the day. These habits need to be completely built-in so that they are automated for the future.
Tony Robbins, world renowned personal coach, always say that life is made of the decisions we make on a daily basis – the better decisions we make daily, the better our lives would be.
There are three parts to the system we want to build. This will help us to sustain happiness for the long term:
• One is to prioritize our happiness in our calendars, setting the stuff we are 100% sure we need as the fundamentals of our happiness into stone
• Second is to build a system that help us prepare for failure. I call this your Motivation Formula. (In the intro I talked about bouncing back out of a funk quicker than. This system will help you do that)
• Third is to keep learning about what makes us happy as an engrained process (constantly “check-in”
Pt. i – Prioritizing THINGs THAT MATTER
Finding Balance is simply doing more of what you love and doing less of what you don’t like. As you know more about what makes you happy, the more you can define these for your daily practice.
Maybe it’s as simple as grabbing a cup of really good coffee in the morning and sitting in front of a seaview enjoying it (that’s me!). Maybe it’s working everyday for 1-2 hours on a very complicated long term project. In the end, you are in control of your time and life (life’s too short to let others tell you what to do).
As mentioned in the beginning, as a commitment, you need to protect and prioritize this dedication to your own energy as much as possible.
What to Schedule In your calendar:
• The Basic Needs (see Section #1 & #4): food, water, shelter, family, love, self-esteem.
Know when you need these essentials and mark daily, weekly, or hourly time for them.
• The Core Values (see Section #5): family, travel, health, personal growth, learning More examples
Know how often you need something. Feel the “itch” and mark in some time to fill these gaps. I fill in my “learning” and “personal growth” itch by listening to podcasts on my walk back home from work. This also overlaps with my need of “being outdoors.”
• The Short Term goals (see Section #4 & #5): When do you plan, check-in, or review your top 3 priorities of the day
• The “Massive Progress” long term big goals (See Section #3):
Most often we are unhappy because we’re not where we want to be right now. According to the 80/20 rule, we should be dedicating 20% of our time to work towards the long term goals. Do these when you have the HIGHEST energy. 8am? 7pm post work?
• The Flow Hours:
When are you going to do your favorite hobby, draw, paint, sing, write? Part of being happy is continue to do things you enjoy and indulge in.
• The Relaxed Hours (See Section #2):
When are you going to allow yourself to do absolutely nothing? Test out an hour of just sitting by the harbour without your phone or anything distractions. You’ll be surprised. How about booking a massage once a month?
• The Spontaneous Hours: When are you going to allow yourself to go not according to plans? Let your loved ones take you somewhere new. Wander out. Test out a half-day block (for tech cleanse or random traveling), full day, or even two days on the weekend.
If the items are in your calendar, it’s easier to remind yourself what is best for you and even easier for you to say no. As long as you stick to it, or reiterate it, when you continually learn more about your energy levels, then you will build a very strong habit that people around you will expect and know. You’ll also be way more productive focusing on one thing at a time. What helped is for me to draw out 7 long lines on a large sheet of paper and start on Monday waking up at 6am. And slowly map out my time. I actually did this exercise on a 14 hour plane ride for two hours. I had zero distractions and kept creatively listing out all the activities I loved and wanted to bucket into my calendar. Then if you use Google Calendars afterwards, make sure to input them all in your calendar as a recurring activity and add notifications/reminders.
Remember, it’s not a one size fits all technique, and these Building Blocks are always adjustable later on. However, if you never stick to this schedule for at least 2 weeks to truly test it out, then you’d never know if it works or not (or what exactly to reiterate).
Similar to trying a diet for 2 days and wondering why you haven’t lost weight. It’s a long term habit you’re building, not an overnight miracle.
Pt. ii On-going system is to create your Motivation Formula.
This is a system that I learned from the Matthew Hussey Retreat. It’s a system to identify our Emotional Triggers. This system not only allows you to create an exact happiness formula based on your personal experiences of what makes you happy but also allows you to build strong intent learn about yourself everyday.
What happens is, if at one time you’re doing something in particular that makes you really happy or feel fulfilled, you have to pause and make a physical note of it. You have to write the note in the very moment or else you’ll miss out on remembering these brief moment of happiness!
The notes will be a series of granular titles that are positive feelings rather than one big note that is titled “Finding Balance” The title would be describing a specific situation in which you’d need this reminder. Same as Section #6 where you’re combating a specific feeling/situation, you will add positive reminders here as a part of the note. Feel free to copy these titles down into your Evernote. Make a new note each time you think of a new positive feeling so that you can search it easily when you need it.
Examples of titles :
• Dopamine related titles:
“Need to take action, procrastination. need to be okay with myself to do stuff”
“Feel to [insert limiting belief eg. young, unexperienced] to accomplish anything”
“Need to [insert goal] and wake up early/carve out time”
“Conquer fear! [insert big goal]”
“Need to go to the gym [insert AM/PM, time and frequency]”
• Serotonin related titles:
• Oxytocin related titles:
“Forgetting to show affection or need to show empathy”
“Need to build loving relationships”
• Endorphine related titles:
“Need to calm down and not feel rushed”
“Scared and anxious”
“Need to take it easy, feeling stressed”
For every note, when you feel the positive side of it, or inspired to overcome it, you write down what what you were doing, what was your thought process, and why you like this feeling and why it’s important to you to have this feeling. Remember, inspirational content, videos, pictures, descriptions of situations/thoughts, or even describing a specific person can help. Whatever reminds you of that particular feeling you may need at that instance. Similar to helping a best friend overcoming challenges.
Keep Adding On
You can probably think of more examples as you have more intention of doing this exercise on a daily basis. As the “Need Energy” note continues to build, the next time you NEED energy, you’ll read through it and trigger memories and emotions of having energy. Most likely, you’ll have more to add on to it again afterwards with the regained energy. See picture below, (source)
My personal examples
I’m definitely more of an audio and visual person so I include a lot of videos that triggered inspiration in me, especially the one where I tell myself to be okay with myself (Evernote Link), to do the stuff that I want to do and where I want to conquer my fear to start my website (Evernote Link)
Mind you, these notes took little moments of time here and there to build them into longer lists. These are times when I truly felt inspired and want to immediately take action, but I remember to write the note before I took the action. Even though it was just one word or sentence I always remind myself that I’m here to set myself up for success. I’m sure that I needed it in the future. And I really did
How Long should you take everyday/week to add to these systems?
Take Action with Intent should only take up weekly 30 minutes to 1 hourmax of your time to contribute to. It’ll become second nature to you easily as you continue to add on to the “Building Blocks” in your calendar, or your Emotional Trigger notes. Then, you’ll thank yourself later when you’re feeling down, unfulfilled, or simply need some energy later on.
Pt III – CONTINUE TO LEARN
Life and the solution to happiness is always a test and learn process. As much as I can tell you what I do to adjust my lifestyles and approach to life, only YOU know what to do to make yourself happy (as you continue to learn more about yourself) and YOU know how to take control of your life. As we grow older, our goals, physiology, psychology, and environment will always change. This is why it’s important to continuously edit your calendar or add notes to your emotional triggers/Balance System.
#8 “Now That I Have My Plans in Place, Now What?” – Acknowledging the Now
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ultimately, the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned on the topic of Finding Balance is understanding that your life is merely a combination of many “today’s” and “now’s”. You can be grinding but enjoying the day-to-day moments are the times you can actually gain motivation.
Life’s too short to be suffering/working TOO HARD.
For us to acknowledge the now, we mainly need to appreciate the little things, gain a broader perspective, be patient, and to have fun. Either way, ups and downs are part of how life works. It’s not what happens to you that dictates the quality of your life, but how you react to life itself. If you find the good in everything, even if it’s a tough learning, then you’ll be able to see life on a broarder scope.
Appreciate the little things
No matter where we are, who we’re with, what we’re doing, whenever it is, we need to pull ourselves out of the situation time and time again to appreciate it. As mentioned previously, having small goals (boosts dopamine), giving gratitude (boosts serotonin), hugging and showing intimacy (boosts oxytocin), and appreciating a great workout (boosts endorphins) allows us to contribute to happiness.
• Always say thank you
• Always hug those and give full attention to people who appreciate your presence
• Always appreciate how far you’ve gone in life
• Always serve others well
• Always enjoy the commute
What are you doing, where are you at this very moment? Look around for 10 minutes. Take notice of your surroundings and appreciate all of it. If you keep it even more simple, the main appreciation you can start the day with is the appreciation that you’re healthy and alive!
Part of the reason why we get caught up in the day to day issues is because we lash out when we don’t understand or make progress in something. You’ll need to continue to learn about yourself and others. Whenever you feel a negative feeling, ask yourself “Why is this happening?” before jumping to conclusions. Whenever someone says something harsh, ask them “Why do you feel this way?” and understand more. Asking “why” will always give you more clarity, control, and time, especially if you step back a bit and perform the exercises from Sections #5 and #6.
Gaining a broader perspective also means continuously learning new things about the world. Read a book, talk to new people, or dive into a new worldly culture, understand how other people are going through a worse circumstance than you. Doing so will allow you to focus less on your own life and give you perspective that your personal challenges are barely microscopic compared to all the other suffering in the world.
The greatest understanding I’ve had is everything worthwhile takes time. As long as we have the intention of moving forward to where we want to be, as my mentor at work always says, “Don’t rush! Life will unfold itself. Take your time.” As Henry Ford also mentions, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t. You’re right.” As long as you trust the process, your positive intentions, and persistence, then everything will fall into place.
Have FUN and Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
We’ve seen Amelia Earheart declare in Night at the Museum 2 that Larry the guard is not doing what he loves to do whilst she explains that the reason why she became a pilot was because “it was for the fun of it. She even exclaimed “why else would anyone do anything?”
I’ve mentioned my motto in the beginning of the long article, life is already hard, why make yourself suffer even more? While you’re struggling to gain motivation, energy, and happiness, other people are also going through crap as well. I’m thinking, it might make other people even happier if you’re having fun yourself too. You can have laughs with people at work, make a game out of work/habits that you hate, bring in cool interesting people into your life.
If it’s for yourself, you can do cool new things that may achieve the similar bucket of “Building Block” form Section #7. Instead of just lifting weights, you can try kick boxing/dance classes or even team sports. You get the gist
Charlotte: “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.”
Bob: “You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”
-LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003)
Woohoo!! I’ve got to say I’m proud of you to have gone through all the concepts in the guidebook. I’ve definitely thrown a lot at you, given that they are all the lessons I’ve learned for 10+ years on building my own Balance System.
More so, I want to thank you for committing to Finding Balance for yourself. Now that you’ve finished and taken action on some of the action items (more for the long term), let me know how it goes and leave a comment on the website!
In the end, whatever you do, understand that it’s a process to Find Balance. Make sure to know that it’s an effort-based learning and reiterating strategy. Your goal is to constantly check whether your needs are being fulfilled, grow/learn about what you’re passionate about, follow your Building Blocks of things that matter in your calendar, build on your Balance System with emotional triggers, and work on your goals. It’ll get easier and easier as these techniques become ingrained in your lifestyle.
And even if other people think you’re crazy or being difficult, just remember that people criticize you because they don’t understand (or they’re demotivated themselves). Trust me, everyone else is too busy thinking about their own mistakes before they could even criticize yours. And even if, who cares if they ridicule you. Focus on those who celebrate your progress and happiness with you – Those are the people who matter the most.
Lastly, this journey shouldn’t be your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get you started (ask your honest friends/family when they might’ve seen you the happiest). If you’ve mastered a few concepts, make sure to share the link of this guidebook, the Ultimate Guide to Finding Balance to the world. Remember, I’m also here as a resource – if you ever need help from me , feel free to reach out on Facebook, leave a comment on the website, or email me directly.
As always, you should be proud of committing to your happiness. I wish you all the best and can’t wait to hear more about your exciting journey!