I read an opinion article the other day about the ultimate goal of I think almost all humans: finding balance in life. It was a very interesting read, and the gist of it, while kind of depressing, was probably more true than anything else I’ve read on the subject.
It claimed actually attaining the right balance in your life is impossible. The premise is, that 1) it’s really hard to find balance, as well all know, and 2) if we actually do find balance, then life will change and throw everything off-balance.
I have struggled with finding the right balance in my life since I’ve been old enough to realize that things are off-balance.
Juggling a career, home life, personal interests, social life, church life and relaxation time is more than a full-time job. And I’ve tried different strategies to find the right balance for me and read tons of articles on how to attain this illusive balance.
The problem is, balance is different for everyone. Some people are extremely happy with a jam-packed schedule of back to back events, others need much more “down time” than “on time”. Some people are fine spending all their time working, while others want to spend little time at work. It’s all based on personalities.
My personality brings an interesting complication. I get bored easily, but I’m also an introvert. I love to have events on my calendar to go to and do, but I also really love it when the event gets cancelled because the thought of “being on” is exhausting to me. So finding a balance that keeps me from being too bored, too overwhelmed, and satisfied is difficult. And every time I find something that I think will help create the right balance, something in my life changes and I become overwhelmed.
So the article may be right. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to obtain balance, even in this ever-changing world.
Here are some of the best strategies I’ve found to help find balance when it becomes too askew:
- If I’m overwhelmed, I have to scale back my responsibilities. To do this, I figure out my priorities. Work, Home Life and my Health tend to be on top of the priority list. So I find things outside of that to scale back on. Am I scheduling to many social events? Are you taking on too many volunteer responsibilities? How are you spending most of your time – and does this meet your priorities? If the answer is no, then you need to scale back on the things that are not meeting your values.
- If I’m bored, I ask myself what I want to do. Sometimes it’s learning something new, sometimes it’s that I don’t have any social engagements on the calendar. Whatever it is that I feel like I’m lacking in, add 1 of those events to your calendar. Don’t go overboard and add a ton, just add 1 and see if that one event is enough to help you. I tend to go overboard and add a bunch of things to my calendar, and then quickly become overwhelmed. It’s best to start slow and find the right balance rather than going overboard and having to scale back.
- Make sure you are taking time for you and your health. This is a big component that a lot of people don’t do. If something has to give on your schedule, usually the first thing to go is your me time. And it should be the one thing you protect during your busy day. Whether it’s reading, taking a nice bath, exercising or taking a yoga class, your me time should be a priority on your schedule. And sometimes just by taking some me time – you feel rejuvenated and don’t need to re-prioritize.
- Ask for help. This is something I’m not so great at doing, but it’s so important to do when you are feeling unbalanced. Ask the people who know you best, whether it’s a family member, spouse, or friend, for advice. If you are feeling over or underwhelmed, they are the ones who can tell you what they have seen in the past that makes you happy, and what makes you unhappy. So they are the ones that can give you the best advice. Also, if you need to take something off your shoulders, but it can’t be ignored, then ask for help with that. For instance, if you are having to get up at 5am every morning just to dust, then maybe that’s something you can ask a roommate, spouse or one of your kids to help with.
- Don’t be afraid to make a change! Oftentimes we have the “tough it out” mentality. We think if we make a change and stop doing something we used to do, that we are failures. We feel we need to keep up with a busy pace because society teaches us that’s what we need to do. And that’s just not true. By making a change, doing less and prioritizing, you are actually setting yourself up to win. You will feel better, put more energy and effort into the responsibilities you do have, and just be an overall happier person. So don’t “tough it out”, be smart and make a change!