When I was little, my sister and I enjoyed balancing the see-saw at our local playground. Perhaps you did the same when you were growing up. We’d stand in the middle, one foot either side of the centre. Then the trick was to shift your weight ever-so-slightly to come to a complete standstill with a horizontal beam beneath your feet. It required fine footwork to shift your weight from one side to the other so as to gain balance. A little too much on one side, and the penalty was to hear that earth-shuddering CLUNK! as the see-saw landed. Keeping your life balance is pretty much the same deal: fine footwork required!
Life balance is important
Maintaining balance in everyday life is a tricky business, just like balancing a seesaw. We talk about having a balanced diet, being emotionally balanced, holding the balance of power, and keeping a balanced budget. They all require awareness and initiative. Lose those, and balance is lost.
Some people suggest life balance is like juggling three balls: family, work and career. Others say that once you add those big areas of family, work and career, then balance is lost. Oh my goodness – then there’s no hope for anyone! However, I think there is hope.
Then there are additional facets to our lives requiring constant attention. Relationships, health and finances are just a few of the additional components in our complex daily lives. There’s also areas of life skill gaps, which we all have and can be so frustrating! How do you maintain awareness and control of all these areas without going crazy? Read on to find out how.
Here’s a quick quiz . . .
Are you controlling your work – or is your work controlling you?
Take this quick quiz to find out.
(1 point for each ‘Yes’ answer)
- Is it longer than a month since you took some time out just ‘for you’?
- You meet someone for the first time. Do you get annoyed when they don’t ask what you do for a living?
- You have a choice between fewer hours at work, and more money. You choose the money.
- Have you put off arranging some important medical checks because you can’t seem to fit them in?
- Do you ever catch yourself thinking about work during intimate moments with your partner?
- Do you panic at the thought of having to take the cat to the vet, book your car for a service, or arrange for the electrician to fix those switches?
- How long since you sat quietly to enjoy some peace and quiet, and reflect on your life—longer than a few weeks?
- Do you find yourself raising your voice to your children more than actually conversing with them?
- Have you visited the supermarket more than twice after dinner this week?
- Does planning for a holiday seem more inconvenience than it is worth?
8-10 Sadly—you are totally out of control. You really need to take a weekend away.
4-7 Not too bad—keep working at it! Why don’t you plan a weekend away?
1-3 Well done! Enjoy that weekend away that you have already planned!
Busy, busy, busy
It has become a defining factor of our culture . . . we think it’s good if we’re busy, and yet our bodies, minds and spirits are constantly telling us to slow down! Stop! Take a moment to smell the roses!
Lately, I’ve decided to use words other than “busy” to describe my life when I’m asked how I am. I’ve realised that for my life to be happy and healthy, I like being busy! Now I say things like, “I have plenty to do,” or “I’m looking forward to our holiday.” It’s not bad to be busy. Just ask someone who isn’t! On the other hand, losing your life balance so that you are too busy – that can be an issue, for both you AND your family.
Having a good life balance doesn’t just entail keeping your cool in the midst of a busy life, it also requires time to stop the busyness, and reflect. Regularly.
Keeping your life balance – some pointers
1. Consider your worth as a person
Unfortunately, we fall into the trap of thinking our value as a person is tied up with what we do. However, in reality we are called human beings, not human doings! As a human being, your value is derived from your very being, you know – your sense of who you are, and your purpose and meaning in life. Those driven by what they do, are never happy.
Your value is not tied up with the dollars you earn, the distance you can run, or the size of the number on your scales. You are special precisely because you are uniquely you. You bring a unique gift to the world, that no one else can bring. But you can only find our meaning and purpose by slowing down and intentionally seeking, asking and knocking.
2. Work on one thing at a time, one day at a time
Multi-tasking is something we women pride ourselves on. However it’s often the road to frustration and disappointment. Of course, some things require multi-tasking like feeding your toddler while watching over homework, or even balancing time between family and friends. That’s not what I mean though. When you have so many things on the go that you are unable to do any of them well, that can be a trap.
This because if you only do enough to make each project adequate, it means you will not do your best.
3. Set realistic goals
Goal-setting is a great way of getting on top of things. But again, it requires balance to set goals and achieve them. There are two keys to goal setting:
- giving yourself a reasonable time frame; and
- having realistic expectations of yourself.
Remember too, there is no shame in re-assessing your goals and altering them if needed.
There are two keys to goal setting
Some encouragement for you . . .
Achieving life balance requires skill, and is a very rewarding objective. But to be realistic, every now and then things will go CLUNK! As a reminder why we pick up the pieces and keep going, hold onto these words by Mary Anne Radmacher:
Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Love as if this is all there is.
What do you do to make sure you keep your life balance?