Starting a balanced year personally and professionally

Rethinking what vacation means

Begin with balance in mind

“Build a life you don’t need a vacation from.” At first glance, I chalked this sentiment off as another get-rich-quick mantra. But then I began to wonder why it sounded so crazy to me… Why is it that we over-extend ourselves so much that we need a “reprieve” or “vacation” from our “normal” lives? It seems like 95% of us over-commit, over-multi-task, and leave no margin in our schedules, and then we are surprised to find ourselves burned out and empty. Where is the balance in our lives?


As 2018 begins, it’s a new year for gym memberships, budgets, goals, and resolutions. This month, millions of people are reflecting on last year, reprioritizing commitments, and setting goals. Sadly, over 50% of those goals will be abandoned within a few weeks. Here are a few ways to make sure your life in 2018 is well-balanced and you don’t feel the need to escape from it.
Evaluate holistically.


Don’t just set goals for one category, but consider each one of these areas:
  • Personal: Where you want to be with personal development and stress level? How can you get closer to where you want to be? Maybe its learning a new language or advancing your education. Or maybe its the reverse: quitting a hobby or extra activity to create a little more breathing room for you.
  • Family:  Having a work-life and family-life balance is so important. I’m realizing more and more each year just how important it is. Both research and personal experience has made me an advocate of family time. Cheating family and relationship time only sabotages vocational productivity.
  • Health: Physically, our bodies are “us”, so finding a balance of activity and healthy eating will positively impact every other area of our lives. Consider the 80/20 principle: small amounts of adjustment can have a monumental impact. For example, even 20 minutes of exercise 3 days per week is incredibly valuable for your body. If you feel like you haven’t reached your goals in the past, set more realistic and achievable goals for yourself. You may surprise yourself with the results.
  • Vocation: Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I work hard, and by many standards, a lot, but I love what I do. I work toward measurable goals. Become a time-ninja this year and push yourself to focus on the major goals that will help you vocationally.
  • Spiritual: We’re only on this dusty earth for a short period of time, and while I’m all about maximizing that time, I’m a big believer more than ever that it should be done with eternity in mind. As you start the year, take a look a look inward, upward, and outward.
Ultimately, it all comes back to one thing: margin. Each aspect of life needs some built-in margin, or breathing room. Consider how you can add margin into your daily work schedule. Instead of filling your day with back-to-back one hour meetings, book 50 minute meetings and use the extra 10 minutes to take a stretch break or get a water refill (another good habit for a healthy life). Most meetings start late because of a tardy ending to the prior meeting. Consider how you can build margin into your personal commitment load. Only add activities that you are willing to fully commit to, and leave some evenings or weekends with blocks of purposefully available time.


When you lead a well-balanced life, you give attention to all categories of life and recognize how each area impacts the others. Keep the holistic view in mind, set SMART goals, and strive to create a life that you don’t NEED to vacation from to survive.
After reflecting upon the click-bate quote, I decided that I still recommend and enjoy vacations, but for the purpose of resting, reflecting, and disconnecting. Vacations should NOT be a time for escaping a dissatisfied life. Spend some time fine-tuning all areas of your life, and you’ll be more successful than ever. Still take vacations, but do your best not to overcommit. When you stop drowning yourself with commitments, you’ll find that you can push yourself to new heights and enjoy it.
– by Brian Sallee 1/11/18