Earlier this year, the co-host of the Today Show, Matt Lauer, asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could successfully balance the demands of family and being a CEO. Recently, Max Schireson, a dad and CEO of MongoDB, a cross-platform database company, voluntarily stepped down from his role. He was on track to fly 300,000 miles a year commuting between New York and Palo Alto. He also has three kids and a wife with a demanding job as a doctor and professor at Stanford. He realized that he was missing too many special family moments and as a result felt out of balance. As I write about in my book, Living in YOUR Top 1%, balance is a personal choice. And while one person can feel completely balanced being on a plane every week another person will not.

There is no right or wrong balance level, only what’s right for you. @AlissaFinerman
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You need to understand what makes you feel balanced or out of balance.

Balance is one of the hardest areas to master because there is no simple formula. How do you work harder, spend quality time with your significant other and family, fly all over the country to see clients, have dinner at home consistently, exercise, contribute to your community, and make time for friends and yourself all within a 24-hour day?

To make matters even more challenging, just when you think you have the perfect balance in your life, something happens that can push you off course: your child needs surgery, you’re handed a new assignment at work, you have to move because your landlord is selling the property or your car breaks down. One event can throw off your balance and make you feel your entire life is out of whack. You can go from one extreme to the other in the snap of your fingers.

The term balance refers to the state of feeling centered. To examine what balance means in your life, think about how many projects you can juggle at one time while still operating at a high level. We all have a balance range rather than one specific point. The challenge is to know your range and understand what works best for you. We do this by trial and error. The closer we are to living in our balance range the clearer our mind is and the better decisions we can make.

Below is a balance framework to consider as you try to find your ideal balance level:


Seeing the bigger picture is about taking a thoughtful approach to your life and understanding how each action relates to a specific outcome. Some refer to this concept as a vision and others as a long-term view. Regardless, the point is to look at your situation from a different perspective. Our natural tendency is to focus on the day-to-day minutia. While it’s easy to get stuck in the details of your life, it’s essential to pause and ask yourself, “What’s truly important?” Seeing the bigger picture helps you gain a broader perspective, refrain from overreacting, and keep your emotions local rather than globalizing them to every area of your life.

How can you refocus the lens you use to view the world by putting the details into perspective and focusing on the bigger picture?


Non-negotiables are beliefs, commitments, and values that you are not willing to compromise. You can have non-negotiables in each area of your life. They can range from…

Practicing yoga three times a week, to getting at least seven hours of sleep, to having dinner with your family every night, to writing a weekly blog, to eating breakfast every morning, to picking up your son from school, to weekly meetings with employees, to brushing your teeth daily.

While most people would not consider going a day without brushing their teeth, some might compromise on sleep, exercise and making yourself a priority. The more consistently you practice these, the more balanced you will feel.

Identifying and using your non-negotiables helps to clarify your priorities and make better decisions. Because circumstances shift over time, you need to re-assess what’s important to you and what, if any, non-negotiables need to change. When you don’t honor these values and beliefs you begin to lose your sense of balance and your foundation begins to break down. If this pattern continues, you compromise yourself and prevent yourself from sharing your best.

What are three non-negotiables you need to honor on a consistent basis to feel good?


The third factor in cultivating greater balance in your life is your ability to make conscious trade-offs. While we all are faced with choices and dilemmas daily, as you gain clarity on your priorities the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together. These choices need to align with your goals and values. How will you prioritize family vs. wellness vs. yourself vs. your career? If you’re starting a new business you may temporarily be out of balance for six months and that’s ok. But if you’re going to be out of balance for two years is that sustainable? Here are three questions to help sort through possible trade-offs:

* What are the most important priorities in my life and am I honoring them?

* What trade-offs are necessary to honor myself?

* Are these trade-offs aligned with my goals and values?

As you consider the bigger picture, identify and practice your non-negotiables, and determine which, if any, trade-offs are essential, you increase your clarity, make better decisions, and share your potential.

There is no need to compare yourself to others because we all have different goals. Know this process is tricky and becomes more natural with practice.

When have you felt most balanced in your life and what steps did you take to achieve this feeling?

Alissa Finerman is a Professional Business/Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of Living in Your Top 1%. She works with individuals and organizations to help them think bigger, redefine what’s possible, and get results. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has appeared on national radio stations such as CBS and Clear Channel Radio and has worked with the Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, Prostate Cancer Foundation, and NBC Universal. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of frank.