Feeling like you’re being pulled in all directions? Seemingly everyone is constantly demanding a piece of the action? This is tiring and unsustainable. It’s time to step on the large pedal and stop – or at least slow it down considerably. The time has come to accept and acknowledge that you cannot do everything for everyone all of the time. You can only give so much, your resources are finite, there’s limited time, effort and energy that you can consistently deliver. Learn to let go of the need to solve all the problems for all people.

But how? It’s time for a dose of ‘self-editing!’ This is when you finally gain a sense of personal responsibility in what you do and how you do it. The key is to harness and develop the power of personal choice, knowing you can say ‘no’ from time to time and understanding what aspects of your life that you have complete control over. You need to learn to manage yourself, not time. And stop constantly striving for perfection – it doesn’t exist.

Begin by finding some time for yourself – if you don’t, then who will? Juggling the responsibilities and roles in life can be a challenge. And, if you don’t make the steps to preserve your health and mental well-being, then who will? A good life balance or ‘personal responsibility balance’ must mean having time in your schedule for yourself. If you spend all day racing around attending to the needs of others, you won’t have the energy or the means to achieve your own goals and ambitions.

A core part of looking out for yourself is to set aside a-slice-of-time each day for exercise – it doesn’t matter what you do, but you really should do something, one circuit of the park is still 100 per cent more exercise than the person sitting on the couch is doing that day! I understand that you may want your family, friends and colleagues to have unrestricted access to your time – but you need to be selfish from time to time. Not selfish as in, ‘me, me me’. Selfish as in ‘for the benefit of the self’. It takes deliberate effort to make this happen.

A healthy balance

What is a ‘healthy life-balance’? In reality it means something different to everyone. Like a lot of things in life, it’s subjective. A business executive may think they’ve achieved the perfect life balance because they can leave the office early enough to enjoy dinner with the family. That may be enough. However, someone else might need ultimate flexibility in their schedule to be on hand at all times for family. Yet another person may be fully fulfilled by spending all their time advancing their career prospects – provided they are up to speed and not stressed and not unhappy, then this could be their ideal ‘life balance’. In short, you’re on the road to achieving life balance when you have control, when you’re in charge of what happens and how. When you have enough time (or balance!) to pursue family, work and personal interests in harmony.

Distracted by expectations

Distractions are everywhere and we face them each and every day. Distractions are, by definition, distracting. They can heighten our stress levels whilst lowering our productivity. But why are we so easily distracted? And why are our expectations levels of what’s distracted us so high? I pretty much guarantee that what distracts you the most is technology. The device in your hand is such a powerful tool, information flows freely (it’s not lost on me that you could well be reading this on your phone). It’s also a vehicle to communicate, share, learn, capture, explore and even make a call or two. But this power comes at a cost, it has a double-edge to it, it can be at the centre of what and how our expectations are laid out, and then yet we’re often disappointed with the outcome.

How does this come about? We’re all guilty of building up our expectations of what is around the corner for us, we naturally read into situations that something will, inevitably, happen to us – good or bad. I often speak of the importance of regaining and maintaining control over various aspects of your life. Naturally, you can’t control everything; but by adopting new habits you can learn to manage your distractions and in turn your expectations. Therefore I implore you to think carefully about device use – remember, it’s a tool and you should think of it that way, it’s not part of you – it should be something you choose to use on your terms, simply because it benefits you. No tangible benefit…no point. You wouldn’t use any other gadget which made you miserable and wasted hours of your life would you? Time to get real – as the saying goes; if it seems too good to be true… it often is! By managing your expectations and keeping things real, you could be pleasantly surprised by positive outcomes more often than not.

It’s a person thing

Think about the people in your life, your circle. Obviously some you choose, some you don’t. So, we’re not talking about wider ‘acquaintances’. Take a moment to identify which of these people truly believe in you. Who support you, encourage you and make you feel better by being in their company. These are the people that bring something positive to your life, this is your first team, the one that will deliver you the best results.

Then consider those who don’t make the first team, they make up the reserves – they may have something to offer, but it needs work. You can legitimately ask yourself, whether either party is willing to put in the effort to promote them. I’m not being cruel here, merely taking a pragmatic approach to better understanding where and how your stress triggers are fired. Then consider the ‘players’ that given the choice, you’d phase out and not have on your team at all. Granted, this is an idealistic situation and isn’t always achievable, but by going through the process will allow you to understand which people add stress or drain you of optimism in your life.

My tip – spend more time with your first team because they’ll empower, inspire and provide you with strength rather than stress.

Get on building

Building and developing effective resilience is what allows us to cope with the ups and downs of life. There are plenty of ways to build your resilience. When looking back at any situation in life, wherever possible try to find something worthwhile out of difficult times as this will help your resilience to grow. Positivity breeds positivity and this will allow you to live with more purpose. Because when you orientate your life around genuine purpose it gives you something tangible to focus on for the future. A crucial factor in this, is to maintain our own physical and mental health as this helps us to accomplish more of the goals we set.

The saying that, ‘Life’s a journey, not a destination’ is brilliantly simple yet poignant, because it reminds us about the value of living life to the fullest and also the importance of building and maintaining balance in our life.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist (russellhemmings.co.uk).

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