Want to achieve "work-life balance"? Of course you do. We all do. But for many of us, it's one of those expressions we're always hearing but not actually experiencing, so a "balance" just doesn't seem possible.
It always feels like when we devote more time to one thing, then another suffers. We either feel guilty about our personal lives or work lives. So anyone who says both are going well at the same time must be lying, right?
Well, Chelsea Fagan thinks she may have found the answer.
As she writes for The Financial Diet, a "rule of four" approach has allowed her to stay focused, productive, and fulfilled. All at the same time.
How? By staying within those boundaries.
"The “Rule of Four” is simple," Fagan writes. "I must always have four concrete, tangible things in my life that make me feel happy, that make me feel like myself, that I devote time and energy to, and that I am actively constructing."
It's a simple idea, but kind of revolutionary. It's all about limiting yourself to just four different focuses in your life. They could be work, exercise, family and a hobby. Four things you're passionate about and can actually devote time to every day. If there are more than four, that's okay too. But just remember to limit the things you're focusing on to achieve that balance.
For Fagan, it's about "half business, half creative". But you can apply it to any aspect of your life - don't rely on just one of your focuses for validation in yourself or day-to-day happiness. They should all be so important to you that if one is lagging on any particular day, you can rely on another to bring you back up.
This is a great case for not putting all your energy into your work. As Fagan points out, it's become somewhat of a noble characteristic to be completely devoted to your job. But at what cost? If it's not going well, there should be something else for you to rely on to put everything in perspective.
You need a fall-back. For Fagan, when work isn't going great, her other three big focuses can bring her back: cooking, traveling, and her partnerships.
"Cooking a delicious, involved meal can make a sour work day feel suddenly okay. Planning visits from friends in the next few months gives me something to look forward to and work my schedule around. Building lasting partnerships that are fruitful, challenging, and rewarding give me an increased sense of confidence and stability."
Sounds like a pretty great plan.