Do you wish that you had more balance in your life? Learn three things that you need to know before you can truly create a balanced life and what you need to do to take the first step.
Balance...the "thing" that many moms think will solve all of their problems.
The Holy Grail of motherhood.
I'm not sure there's any mom out there who hasn't said, at least once, "I just need more balance in my life."
Have you been guilty of saying this before? I know I have. We go about trying to get it by trying to be more organized, being better at time management, or multi-tasking more efficiently. The problem with Balance is that it sounds logical, but it can be a trap because most of us don't even really know what balance looks like. How do we know we have achieved it? Because of this it becomes a dangling carrot that is always out of reach no matter what you do.
I do think that balance is achievable, but not in the way that I often see in other articles. You first need to understand balance internally before you start taking any external action. Your perceptions and expectations about what a balanced life is makes a difference in the results that you create.
Here are three things that you need to know before creating a balanced life:
1. Balance is not a place to get to
Balance is often looked at as a solution to a problem or a place that you will get to. You may be thinking that there will be a clouds-parting-angels-singing kind of moment where you know you finally achieved balance, (which would be kinda cool right?) but more likely you'll one day stop and realize that you're not as stressed as you used to be. Because that's all balance really comes down to–a feeling (or lack of negative feelings).
It's feeling of confidence where you know that you can handle whatever comes at you in your life. It's a feeling of peace where you know you are fulfilling all of your responsibilities to the best of your abilities.
It's not feeling as stressed about everything you need to do because you know you'll get done what you need to and it's not feeling guilty when you don't cross off every single thing on your to-do list.
When you realize that balance is not a place to get to, you will stop looking to some future day of relief and start focusing on what will actually create balance, which are the daily, intentional choices that you make.
2. Balance doesn't mean equal
Often when we think of balance, we think of it as equal distribution. You may think that living a balanced life means that each of your roles and responsibilities will have equal priority. While in the overall, bigger picture, all of your roles and responsibilities have equal value in your mind, in the weekly, day to day, life they will not always have equal priority.
Have you ever seen those artists that rock stack? They stack rocks out in nature and the goal is to get it to stand on it’s own? Their rocks are all different sizes, some much bigger than others. But they position them in a way that benefits the whole sculpture and achieves that balance. It’s the same in our lives. I like to see those rocks as the energy we spend on any given thing: cleaning the house, taking care of our kids, self care, self improvement, serving others, etc…Sometimes we’ll spend a lot of time on our kids and only a little time on service. Other times, we’ll spend a lot of time on ourselves and a smaller amount of time on our kids. But it all fits together into one beautiful piece of art.
Balance is about getting present, looking at everything that needs to be done, prioritizing, and making intentional choices about what you spend your energy on, while letting the rest go. This will change every week depending on what's going on in life. By being able to adapt to the demands of life in this way, you can achieve true balance.
3. Balance is not achieved by external actions
Of course, we need external action to create change in our life, but it is not the external action itself that creates a balanced life because...
Balance is a state of mind.
That's right. It's a choice. It's a decision to focus on what needs to be done and what can be done with the time you have, and then letting the rest go. Balance is not achieved when you get a certain amount of things done, which I see so many women doing. In fact, it is often why they say that they need more balance; they want to get more things done. But balance is not achieved in this way; in fact, it's quite the opposite. Balance is actually achieved by taking off the pressure to get everything done and focusing only on what needs to be done and being at peace with that.
How to start having more balance in your life
Now that you know these fundamental things to creating a truly balanced life, you are ready to start creating more balance in your life. Here is a weekly exercise that you can do as you plan your next week. It will help you implement the three fundamentals I talked about earlier and help you achieve the balance you are looking for.
1. Make a list of everything that you want to get done this week
Don't filter it. Just do a brain dump where you get it all out of your head and on paper. You will be able to make better sense of it all when it's on paper.
2. Look over your list and prioritize them into one of three categories:
A. What absolutely has to be done: These are only things that must be done this week.
B. What you would like to be done, but isn't vital: These are things that have a high priority, but do not have to be done this week.
C. What you'd like to get done if there is extra time: This is likely where majority of the things on your list will go. These things are only to be done if you still have time after you've scheduled in the times from the first two categories.
Schedule in all of the things from category A first, then move onto B. If you still have time then schedule in some C items too if you'd like, but do not try to schedule in every single thing on your list. It is ok if you have C items left. Remember, balance comes from knowing that you don't have to get everything done. But when you categorize items in this way, you can know that you are getting done the things that absolutely need to be done.
4. Intentionally Choose
Before you go into your week and carry out your schedule, intentionally choose to feel peace about all you will be accomplishing and all the things that will still be left on your list. Acknowledge that all of the vitally important things will be taken care of, so that you can feel peace.
You will rinse and repeat this exercise each week as you plan your week, but before you move on to the next, take the time to reflect back on your past week. What were your successes? Are there areas you could improve on? How did you feel during the week? If you felt mostly negative emotion, what could've helped prevent that? What did you learn from that and is there something that needs to be put on the category A list the next week because of it?
Balance will be achieved much quicker with reflection because you will see your progress as well as see what's working and what's not. By focusing on your feelings, you will be able to channel on what actions you need to take to truly achieve the balance you're looking for.
Signs of a Well Balanced Life
As you intentionally apply these principles you will be able to build a life just like those rock stackers. You will know where you need to spend your energy and what you need to let go of. You will know when one area of your life needs attention and when you need to focus your energy elsewhere. The distribution is never equal, and is ever changing, but it works because you are building balance in a sustainable way.
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