Ebook Review: Regain Your Balance, by Ali Hale

Regain Your Balance - by Ali HaleIt’s so wonderful to read and review an ebook on life balance that I strongly agree with, especially one written by a great writer like Ali Hale.

What I admire most about Ali Hale’s writings is her methodical approach, which reflects the clarity of her thinking and keen observation skills.

Regain Your Balance has some great insights on what I would consider to be the mechanics of life balance: the factors needed for balanced living.

Ali identifies 6 factors for life balance, and dedicates a chapter to each factor, with tips on how to make the most out of each factor towards achieving a balanced life.

The factors Ali identifies are:

  1. Time
  2. Creativity
  3. Focus
  4. Environment
  5. Recharging
  6. Money

I personally believe that we need to balance the 7 life areas under which our human needs can be categorized. These are: Spiritual, Intellectual, Psychological, Social, Professional, Recreational and Physical.

Ali’s 6 factors are what we need to make life balance possible, but they’re not the things we need to balance, even though each factor needs the right balance to make the most of it (e.g. making money vs spending money).

While Ali shares some great advice related to each factor, and to understanding life balance in general, what stood out for me the most is her inclusion of Creativity and Environment in the mix. I was already aware of the importance of Time, Focus, Recharging, and Money, but didn’t consider the importance of Creativity and Environment.

In the same way that Focus is an essential element to efficient work, Creativity paves the way to effective results. And both are essential for life balance.

Ali also points out how our Environment can influence not only the work we get to accomplish, but the extent to which our environment can impact the degree of relaxation we can experience!

A disorganized office can make our work more cumbersome, and a cluttered bedroom can make our sleep more restless.

A Thought-Provoking Read

If you want to get a feel of Ali Hale’s writing, you can check out her blog: Aliventures.

You can also check out her blog post on ProBlogger on writing the perfect list post, which demonstrates the thoughtfulness she puts into her writings.

This is something that’s evident in her ebook.

She offers insights I hadn’t considered before, which in turn encouraged me to think of more ways to approach the subject of life balance.

To me, that’s priceless.

I can’t explain my love for books that don’t just offer information, but act as a catalyst for productive thinking.

Some helpful tips I found in the book:

  • I used to think of focus as the ability to concentrate on a single task while working on it. Ali talks about short-term, as well as long-term focus
  • Your environment can influence you in many different ways (e.g. distract you, slow you down, etc.). Identify the influence, and what can be done about it
  • Social interactions can drain us of energy, based on the people we meet and the degree to which we are comfortable socializing
  • Create an end-of-work ritual to avoid working longer than required
  • Some of our work problems have nothing to do with productivity, but with the challenges of creative work

“Pretending that your creative work is unimportant is a form of self-protection – you’re pre-emptively saying the things which you’re afraid you’ll hear.”
~ Ali Hale

Life Balance Is Something To Experience Now

I can’t stress on this point enough: life balance isn’t something you should hope to achieve in the distant future, but a lifestyle to adopt right now, in order to make the greatest progress in every area of your life.

Ali takes this approach to life balance, which is extremely refreshing to see.

Sure there are challenges when it comes to life balance.

But you can’t put it off because of these challenges. Ignoring life balance fuels more challenges than we need to be handling!

The Best Way To Read This eBook

Buying a book on life balance won’t guarantee that you’ll achieve life balance. To get the best results, you need an effective approach to reading and implementing the strategies you learn.

The approach I took is:

  1. Summarize the ebook into its key ideas, while reading it. Note down any memorable statements, as well
  2. Feel free to write down your own thoughts on what you read (I love this step the most!)
  3. Condense the key ideas into guidelines you can easily refer to and follow
  4. Translate the guidelines into action steps you can carry out. Ask yourself: “How can I apply this in my life?”
  5. Some tips you might need to do only once, while others need to be done on a regular basis. Write these down in 2 separate lists (to-do list and to-keep-doing list), so you can cross off what you no longer need to do
  6. Go through your action steps, and do something to make improvements with each of the 6 factors mentioned in the ebook

Ali’s ebook is an easy read, but very inspirational and informative. It comes with its own worksheets, but I personally prefer to follow my own approach (outlined above).

I consider it a great complement to the ideas and advice I share here, and a valuable tool to achieving life balance.

You can grab the ebook by following the link below:

Regain Your Balance ~ by Ali Hale

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to share them in the comments section below!

And please read My Disclosure page if you haven’t already done so.


Only Everything is Everything

Relationships are everything.

Family is everything.

Health is everything.

These are expressions we’re accustomed to using and hearing.

While said with the best of intentions, they often reinforce an unhealthy attitude towards life and balance.

If you consider only one aspect of life to be everything, then it should come as no surprise when you neglect all other life areas.

This does not mean that you will be completely negligent of the life areas that don’t appear in your “everything” equation, but it does mean that they will most likely not make a sufficient appearance on your radar. And the more convinced you are that your only priority deserves your complete attention, the less care you will be putting into the rest of your life.

The fact is: Only everything is everything.

You can’t expect that focusing on a single life area is sufficient for healthy living.

All life areas need your attention.

All life areas contribute to your well-being.

All life areas influence and reinforce each other.

If you want to improve your relationships, then you need to be living by healthy spiritual values, sound reason, emotional stability, respect for others, financial income, rejuvenating rest and physical well-being. The same goes with the desire for strong family bonds or physical health. They depend on all other life areas for holistic growth and healthy living.

Whenever you find yourself giving all your attention to a single life area, remind yourself of all life areas, and see what you need to do to make progress in them all.

Spiritual, Intellectual, Psychological, Social, Professional, Recreational and Physical.

They all deserve to be in your life equation.


King Midas and the Scales of Life

We often use the “Midas touch” as a compliment to those who seem to turn every opportunity into a success.

But the story of King Midas paints a different picture of his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. Although King Midas was, at first, ecstatic with his new power, he soon realized that it was a curse and not a blessing.

His love for gold blinded him from seeing the value in other things, such as food and companionship.

His food turned to gold in his mouth. His drink turned to gold as it touched his lips. Even his loved ones turned to gold at the first embrace.

His golden touch meant that he was no longer able to experience the value these things brought to his life.

And while we may look at the story of King Midas as a myth, the outlook he had about life and value is very common in our age, with similar consequences for those who share his vision.

There’s More to Life Than Gold

“Time is money.”

“How much money will I get for my hard work?”

It seems that the only measure of value we use is money. If something doesn’t make us money then we don’t find the motivation to pursue it. Some are willing to give both arms and a foot if they can get the power to turn everything into gold with the foot they have left.

But there’s more to life than gold and money.

We can’t deny that money gives us an opportunity to buy the things we like and the experiences we dream of having. But money can’t buy you happiness. It can only buy you a piece of the pie. The rest of the happiness pie comes from other values.

We need to be aware of all our needs as human beings and to pursue all the values that ensure our happiness and prosperity.

Money doesn’t buy you spiritual enlightenment, but more opportunities to attain it.

Money doesn’t buy you intelligence, but more resources to gain it.

Money doesn’t buy you emotional resilience, but more tools to develop it.

Money doesn’t buy you relationships, but more exposure to acquire them.

Money doesn’t buy you professional success, but more capital to invest.

Money doesn’t buy you comfort and relaxation, but more ways to experience them.

Money doesn’t buy you health, but more services to assist you.

Money can help you advance each of your seven life areas, but it can never compensate for them. You need to give each and every life area the time, attention and effort it needs from you to attain happiness and well-being.

For that to happen, you need to appreciate more in life than money. You have to value your life. You have to value your beliefs, your mind, your feelings, the people around you, the value you offer people in your business, the hobbies you enjoy and your body’s needs.

Having a holistic attitude towards life is the only way to pursue happiness. And that’s something money can’t buy.

There Are No Scales

Whenever we try to make a decision, we usually see a weighing scale in our mind’s eye, with two scales used to determine which is the weightier side. Which side do we value more. Which side should we go for.

Are you willing to prove your dedication to your work by cutting down on the time you spend pursuing your hobbies?

Are you willing to prove your love to your family by turning down projects that can move your career forward?

Are you willing to deny your body basic comforts in order to attain spiritual enlightenment?

We are always asked to make a decision between two options to prove what our priorities are and how our pyramid of values is constructed. To demonstrate priority, we have to make a compromise.

But this outlook is completely fabricated and unhealthy.

We don’t need to get stuck in the either/or mentality. We need to shift towards the both/and mentality.

We need to advance in all areas of our lives, without necessarily having to compromise one for the other. Advancement in our careers doesn’t necessitate sacrifices in our marriage, or vice-versa.

We need to aim for progress in all life areas, so that we can pursue human happiness.

We need to acknowledge that the “Midas touch” is a curse, because gold isn’t the only measure of value.

And we also need to acknowledge that we don’t need to sacrifice one value for the sake of another.


The Power of Not Now

“Do not delude yourself into thinking that such a thing as later actually exists. Later is never.”
~ Steve Pavlina (
on Twitter)

One of the greatest obstacles to balance and peace of mind is the desire to do everything we want to do at the same time.

We are told not to delay. Not to postpone. Not to procrastinate.

To take action and to get things done. Right now.

But productivity and the sense of balance rely heavily on the need to postpone some things so we can focus on only one thing at a time (or a few manageable things during a stretch of time.

“Not Now” is as important as “Now”.

Later does exist, and you need to make the most of it if you truly want to lead a balanced life.

No & Not Now

There’s a difference between a “No” and a “Not Now” (though parents are guilty of blurring the line between the two!).

“Not Now” doesn’t mean that you aren’t interested, or that you’ll never get round to the activity you want to do. It is an attitude established on a sound understanding of time and a healthy relationship towards it.

You can’t do everything at the same time. You can’t experience both full engagement and total disengagement together. These are states to be experienced separately, and both matter to you.

You might be involved in a big project now, so traveling the world isn’t an option at the same time. This doesn’t mean you abandon your love for travel. It means you attend to it when the time permits, based on a conscious decision of what you want to do Now, and what you will do Then (a time in the future).

Positive Procrastination

Putting things off isn’t always a bad idea. It really depends on why you’re putting things off and how important is it for you to do them now?

When you appreciate the power of “Not Now” you will realize that you don’t have to make sacrifices or compromises in life. Some things can wait, so let them wait. Without crossing them off your list, or losing hope of ever doing them.

Being able to decide what you want to do now, what you don’t want to do at all and what you will do at a later time is essential for healthy living.

Writers who constantly get you thinking about all your passions and demanding that you take action in pursuing every passion, right now, or else you’re making a compromise are simply being unrealistic and leading you towards early burnout.

Take a deep breath. Think of all the lovely things you want to do in life. Pick a few you’ll engage in in the days and weeks ahead. Make sure they cover all your life areas.

And put the rest off.

For now.

Until you have time to get to them.

That’s the way to protect your sanity and experience peace of mind.


Why I Hate the “Work-Life Balance” Expression

I am usually a calm and collected individual. I don’t get worked up that easily. But whenever I hear silly expressions like “work-life balance” I can get worked up to unhealthy levels!

It might not seem that obvious why I have a skeleton – not just a bone! – to pick with this expression, but once you realize the grave offense we’re taking so lightly in using this expression, you will join me in hating it as well.

But Hate Is Such A Strong Word

Not really…

In fact, you can look “hate” up in a thesaurus and use all the synonyms you find combined! That’s how I feel about this dumb expression. And what gets me worked up even more is when I start using it myself!

That’s when I feel the sudden urge to chew a bar of soap.

Why The “Work-Life Balance” Expression Deserves to Be Hated

When you try to balance two things, it means that they are either different or opposites of each other. You can balance the time you spend reading with the time you spend writing. You can balance the time you spend with family and the time you spend with your friends. You can balance the time you spend between two (or more) projects.

What you can’t do is balance something with itself or its subcategory!

Did that sentence make any sense?

Of course! If it made you raise three eye-brows (OK, that doesn’t make much sense), it means you have been fooled by this deceptive “work-life balance” expression!

Put simply, work is a part of your life. You shouldn’t treat it as something separate from life.

It’s like saying: “I really have to balance my health and my nutrition. I don’t want my nutrition to get in the way of my health!”

Sounds silly? You bet!

But that’s exactly what we’re saying whenever we try to balance work and life.

The fact is, it’s not work and life that we should be balancing. Work is a part of life. We can balance recreational time with work, but we can’t balance between work and life.

This may seem like a slight, silly mistake in the expression, but if you consider the impression of work (and life) it reinforces,  you will realize how serious this “mistake” really is!

Our View of Work and Life

When we don’t consider work to be an essential part of our lives, we see it as a joyless chore we have to get done. It’s a necessary evil that we try to tame so we can get a chance to live.

But does work have to be this way?

The more we talk about balancing work and life, the more we ingrain this idea in our heads and the more we exclude the thought (and, therefore, the possibility) of finding and experiencing work that we truly enjoy and find enriching.

If we consider life to be anything except work, then we will dread any productive pursuit, because we will label it as “work” instead of an activity that we can enjoy and a means of expressing our creativity and refining our skills (which is what work should be).

If you feel that work is dragging you away from what you enjoy doing, then you know the thought-seed behind such feelings: the idea that work is separate from life. And you can have the “work-life balance” expression to thank for robbing you of the joy you can experience at work!

In the Personal Growth Map, I consider work to be one of 7 Life Areas that make up our lives. We need to give each life area our attention, and be able to advance in all life areas in order to lead a balanced, fulfilling life.