For many of us over the past year, life has been a relentless uphill battle. The battle feels constant. The battle is there in the morning when we wake up, and when we go to bed at night.
The battle is different for everyone, but in general, it’s what you want to do versus what you have to do. An attempt to protect the little bit of personal time you have for yourself from everyone else. To prioritize what you need over the needs of others. To find some kind of balance moving forward where things feel in harmony instead of competition.
Since having my first child back in 2012, my work/life set-up has presented itself in every type of combination you could think of. I have worked full time with my daughter attending daycare from 7am – 5pm, I have been a stay-at-home mom and I have worked part-time. My family relocated to the Bay Area in 2018. I was able to continue seeing a small portion of my clients virtually, but I knew I wanted to prioritize my family, specifically our children, as we transitioned to a new area. After some time, I felt ready to begin accepting new clients again. Unfortunately, this was right around March 2020. Right in the beginning of a pandemic.
All of a sudden, balance felt impossible to achieve. I couldn’t find balance because I didn’t know what balanced looked like anymore. I didn’t know what I needed to feel balanced and in turn feel whole. I couldn’t focus on what balance meant to me because I wasn’t willing to let go of the things, I felt I needed to control in order to cope.
I wish I could say that I have achieved balance, but if you want the truth – it’s a work in progress. In my opinion, balance is not something that is achieved and remains. It takes constant attention. I am writing this post on my living room couch. Wearing my ratty t-shirt and leggings that I hope to work out in later today. The last hour consisted of returning e-mails cut short by picking my son up from preschool. I just made lunch for everyone; my son is now sitting next to me watching a TV show while my daughter is finishing up virtual school in her room. The kitchen is a mess, my husband just walked by the mess… talking loudly on a work call… I wonder if it crosses his mind that I have work to do today and yet it is assumed that I am the one who will clean up the mess. It’s not intentional or rude, it’s the precedent that has been created by us both and will take time to undo. I move into our bedroom aka my office... and I remember the giant pile of laundry waiting for me there. I take a deep breath. The relief I feel comes from knowing that balance is practiced one moment at a time and that what I am wanting can be created if I take a moment to tell myself that it’s all going to be OK.
Balance is a daily practice for me. It’s not something that one day I decided to achieve and that was it. It’s not something that I can create by scheduling out my week ahead of time perfectly, (because between clients’ schedules changing, my children, choosing to be intentional about my physical activity, returning a phone call or text so I don’t feel like a bad friend…) I would be joking if I acted like I had it all together. I try and prioritize what needs to be handled and do the next right thing. I make the best choices I can based off the information I have (the information being: what needs to be handled that day that is non-negotiable and what my mind, body and heart are telling me that I need that day – something I think of as intuitive living) … and some days go better than others. All that being said, I do believe there are a few hacks that can help you improve your relationship with balance and integrating balance into your life in positive ways.
8 Ways to Practice Balance Today and Everyday
Do you feel like you are constantly trying to protect yourself and your time from others? You have your work, relationships, personal time and you feel like these aspects of your life are always competing against one another? How can you bring these pieces into harmony instead of pitting them all against each other, vying for your time and energy in competition with one another? How do set our lives up better in order to feel more balanced?
1. Identify what balance looks like for you TODAY
Time to play a game: If you woke up one morning and knew that all of a sudden your day was completely balanced for you... what would it look like? What would your day and schedule look like? What would that itinerary look like?
Imagine you have a blank piece of paper in front of you are tasked to create a vision board of sorts for your day… what pictures and phrases would be on that board to reflect what balance looks like to you. Take into account your relationships, hobbies, your career, your health and wellness.
2. Balance is not achieved and maintained; it must be practiced daily
Repeat this mantra to yourself. What is balance one day, may not be balance on another.
3. Reframe being on a schedule
Most people hear “schedule,” and feel like it’s restrictive. When in reality, a schedule helps us create time for the things you want to do. If you can more efficiently handle the things we need to do for work, etc, we will have more free time on the back end to do the fun stuff! So… schedule things out, set alarms in your phone. Set up a system that works for you to be able to create the balance you’re wanting. This allows for consistency which helps us create habits.
4. Get honest about your commitment level and willingness to change
Practicing balance takes work. This can look like:
- Setting boundaries around your time – ask yourself what you are willing to spend time on, allocate other tasks if possible.
- Make distractions less accessible (take social media apps off of your phone so that you have to open up a web browser to get online, change your password to something different so you have to re-enter it. *this is just another barrier to signing on, its meant to make it a pain in the butt to get on so that you have time to question if this is really something you’re wanting to spend your time on*)
5. Get Back to Basics
Get 8 hours of sleep a night, give your body adequate fuel / nutrition, drink water, move your body and work up a sweat, rest when you need to take a break, laugh and have fun. Don’t forget that part of being human is enjoying life.
6. Be in the present
We don’t experience balance if we are worried about our schedule tomorrow or having that conversation with your boss next week. We must enjoy the here and now. When you truly enjoy what you are doing, you are less likely to be focused on what you aren’t doing which can lead to anxiety and negative thoughts.
7. Don’t be a victim to your schedule
You ultimately have control over how much you take on, how little you take on, how you create support for yourself and knowing when you have reached your limits. Working to exhaustion isn’t a cute look – it isn’t glamorous, and it doesn’t make you better than anyone else. It makes you tired, cranky, and out of touch with other aspects of your life. You CAN create a better schedule for yourself. You just have to get clarity on what that looks like for you.
8. Balance will never be perfect
If you think it will be – you are setting yourself up to feel disappointed. Accept when balance is “better” and “improved”, these are good enough.
Until next time friends, have faith in yourself that if you listen close enough – your mind and heart will reveal what it needs to live in balance. Believe that you can practice working towards balance every day and show yourself some compassion and grace. - Dana