John started his business a few months ago and has been extremely busy since. He approaches with the following question: “I’m so busy at the moment. How do I start to get more balance in my life again?” As the coach, what can you suggest to this client?

Terry Neal, LCI Master Coach, answers…

The desire by a client to get their life into balance can come from a realisation that they are feeling tired, irritable and/or on edge a good deal of the time. 

It could also be because they have started to notice that they’re not being part of activities that they have done in the past with family and friends that they used to do regularly or because they feel that they don’t have enough time to do what they enjoy doing for themselves by themselves.

It could be simply that some aspect of what they do whether its work or otherwise related, has become the predominant aspect of their life (in this case, John’s business start-up) and they’d like to change this. However, whatever the reason is for this client coming to you, one positive feature is that they have recognised their situation and hopefully will be more easily motivated to change it.

Questions and Exercises

As the coach here I suggest you start by asking your client some questions that will help both of you to be clear about what your client sees as the problem at this time and how your client views their possible “balanced lifestyle”.

Questions like: “What do you want that you don’t seem to be able to achieve?” “What kind of person would you be if you had a more balanced life?” “What would you be doing if you were living the life that you wanted to live?” Your client’s answers to these and other questions will give you both a clearer picture of what a ‘balanced lifestyle’ means for your client.

You could then follow up with questions like: “What prevents you from having this balanced life?” “Do you really want to change your life to become more balanced?”

If the response to the second question here is YES then an activity you could do with your client is the Absolute Yes List. This involves asking your client to list activities that they currently feel they need to do on a regular basis, then deciding what activities they feel are really important to them and then to note which of your client’s current activities are not considered important and which can either be stopped, or have the amount of time allocated to them reduced.

The exercise itself involves asking your client to sit comfortably with a note book and initially to write down their responses to the following questions: “What activities that I do now are important for me to do on an ongoing regular basis?” Encourage them to write and not judge whatever they feel is important at this time.

Next ask your client: “What activities need my attention at this time in my life?” “What activities do I used to do and now haven’t done for a while?” Once again encourage them to not judge what they write down. Also ask them to consider as many different aspects of their life as they can – areas like relationships, work, community, hobbies and so forth – and to write down whatever comes up.

Once they have finished this list, ask them to nominate the top 5 activities that they feel they would like to put their energy into on a regular basis. If 5 feel too confining, they could list 10 but I suggest that this needs to be the upper limit. This list could be a mixture of those that they feel they ‘need’ to do on a regular basis and those that they feel they would like to devote time to again.

The point here is that while there will probably be some areas that your client will feel that they will still need to devote much time to, for example their career, there could be others that have not had any prominence before and now potentially will be given a higher priority by your client in their daily or weekly routine.

You could encourage your client to write out these top 5 activities on small pieces of paper and to place them in strategic positions around their home, their work area, in their car or wherever they spend amounts of time. This is because the more times they see and read them, the more likely they’ll say yes to these activities and no to a request from either someone else or even from themselves to do an activity that’s not on this list.


Encourage them to review this Absolute Yes List every 3 to 6 months and to note how they feel about this list of chosen activities. They could ask the questions: Is my life more in balance? Am I holding to my list of absolute yes? Do I need to amend this list?

This review will help your client to decide if a change of activities is required or if this same list can continued to be worked with until the next review time.

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