We are always told that once we find “balance” life will magically be full of sparkling rainbows right? But what is balance really and how does it align with our near-term goals? If you feel like you’re chasing the feeling of balance, but never fully capturing it, you’re not alone.
As entrepreneurs and leaders, the achievement of balance sometimes can feel like a funny meme –
The waves seem to crash around you like a hurricane; rather than a confident surfer, we feel like we’re barely keeping our heads above water. How do we end up with chaos when all we’re trying to do is work towards “balance”? There are a few things at play here:
1) You assume balance is static. It looks a certain way and shall remain that way.
2) You’re working towards someone else’s definition of “balance”.
3) Your balance is not aligned with your near-term goals.
These three things will constantly frustrate you and prevent you from that feeling of balance that is unique to you in this time and place. I actually like to consult people in the feeling of wellness versus balance. Balance is easy to hear since we surrounded by that word. But truly, balance is a feeling of overall wellbeing. Keep this in mind.
How can you, as busy as you are, with all the demands placed on you (and let’s be honest, mainly placed on yourself) truly say you have a feeling of wellbeing?
First, realize it is not a static picture. There are days and times in your life that getting more exercise fills you with wellbeing, or more time with your kids makes you feel great. Other days and times, perhaps working more or traveling more leads you to a feeling of more wellbeing. Depending on the circumstances surrounding all the energy that fills your days, life will tip scales in one direction or another on you. You need adjust the opposite end of these scales to keep things balanced and well.
Life tugs one way for a bit, you start feeling out of whack, now your job is to recognize that imbalance and experiment with things that work for you in that moment to tip the scales the other way. Perhaps this is as simple as meditating while in the shower or as extreme as quitting your job knowing you’re better off without any weight on the other end of that scale.
Second, you may feel there is a certain universal formula to what balance looks and feels like. I’m sure you can resonate with the vision sold to you – wake up before your kids and meditate, then do some exercise or do yoga, envision your perfect day at work and be fulfilled as you go into your job while be calm and strong, you perform your job using mindfulness, feel present as you come home to your family (since you did some breathwork on your way home), attend to your children with compassion to make them feel cared for, focus on your relationship with your partner to strengthen that bond. Then go to bed with your essential oil diffuser to enter a quiet and undisturbed 8+ hour night of sleep.
Is this real life? For some yes, so I won’t discount it, but for many – absolutely not – it may make you laugh at the ridiculousness of it even.
Define your own sense of balance (i.e. wellbeing). What feels good to you in the real life that you have? Identify small changes you make that can bring a sense of calm and flow to your day.
– Is it truly just waking up 30 minutes earlier to have some quiet time?
– Is it combining exercise with hanging with your children and/or spouse?
– Is it taking an hour on a weekend to plan, then shop for the ingredients for meals for the week?
What works for others may not work for you. You need to experiment to see what small changes you can choose to make you feel that sense of increased wellbeing.
Realizing that defining what balance really means to you leads you to the final key; align your life to achieve balance with your near-term goals.
For example, your near-term goal may be to run a marathon. Instead of “fitting-in” your training and it feeling like a chore and something that is going to throw your life out of balance, take that goal and work around it. If this is truly a goal, then how can you build overall wellbeing around this goal? You may have to sacrifice something, but find something that is worth sacrificing. Is it that second cup of coffee and extra social media scrolling time? Is it that extra hour at work along with working through lunch? These are choices. Your goal is the marathon – the training leading up to that marathon should provide a sense of wellbeing. Enlist others in your life to support the balance that you need to train and focus on that end goal first.
As a final example, if you are starting a new business, it is ok to accept that you feel like burning the candle at both ends, but you shouldn’t feel regret for missing out on the other important aspects of life. You get to choose. You chose to start a new business; you choose how to grow it and you choose how to run it. How you integrate your health, family and friends into the picture is a choice and thus, you get to choose how all those things feel balanced for YOU.
I believe we can create the time to bring wellbeing into your life as long you accept that you can choose what in life is a priority to you. What you choose as priorities will be directly correlated to your near-term goals.
Don’t compare your balanced life to that of your friends. Your life is unique and you have the ability to choose what is most important to you, where you place your time and what you can flex in that time to fully feel “balanced”. Think of “balance” as wellness. An overall feeling of wellness; this is YOUR choice.
At the August 17th The Power of We webinar join panelists: Stephanie Amend, Katharina Papenbrock and Heather Barron
to discuss Defining A Balanced Focused Way.
Held at noon register free here.