I am an October girl so that makes me a libra in the astrological world. You know, the sign with the scales who’s the type of person that needs everything in order! Years ago I was listening to someone speak about the quest to find balance in life and I had a major “Aha Moment” that I would love to share with you all! First of all, striving to have balance in our lives comes from a combination of social pressure and our innate human nature to want more and to be better. Have you ever wrote out a plan to acknowledge where you wanted to be in the next 1, 5, 10 years? I did this exercise in design school and clearly I have taken another direction in my life, but I’m ok with that! Things change and people change and while it is great to set goals and be mindful of what you want to make priority at the moment, it is still important to be flexible in your journey of self discovery.
If you think about what balance in life really means, is it perhaps going through life with minimal to no stress? Is it that you have inner peace and a sense of self? Does it mean you work hard but also take time for yourself to do the things you love? When you feel like things are not in balance, what is that experience like? Do you feel stuck about what to do next? Do you feel scared about not reaching your goal? Do you feel guilty because you need to be there for everyone else and do not have real time to dedicate to yourself? These questions have all raced through my mind at one point or another, but there is a new way of thinking I want to propose to you. Let me first ask you this, how would life in complete balance look…?
It would be BORING! Yes, I said it…life would be static and boring without passion and energy and nothing would be happening! Let’s take a closer look at how this is. Think of balance as a scale or better yet a seesaw. When things are in perfect balance, both sides of a scale or a seesaw are still and without movement. Why would you want a life that is stagnant and without energy? It’s pretty unrealistic to think that we could perfectly manage every aspect of our lives and have no interruptions in our day and have things run completely smooth. Instead, we have to start approaching life as a quest for harmony and not let ourselves get so hung up on having balance in our life. While balance is the relationship between the inner self and what we define as important and meaningful to our life, harmony is the relationship of who we really are and our environment and the world we live in (reality).
Let’s face it, we can’t control everything in life and so how do we really create perfect balance and why would we? Think of harmony like cooking, there are 4 burners on a stove which all work simultaneously. Let’s put a small saucepan in the back on simmer. We pay attention to it but not all of our focus is tending to it at every moment. We are aware it’s there, but we occasionally look at it to make sure it’s ok. The front burner is where we put our focus. We have the heat up stirring every so often, we are giving our focus to this pan until it is done. We may turn off the heat when it’s done and take the pan off the heat or move it to the back burner, but it’s still there. Harmony is the art of learning how to manage those 4 burners in your life. Shuffling the priorities in the front with things that need less attention in the back. Creating harmony in life is creating wonderful energy that is sometimes exciting and sometimes peaceful.
Let’s create a strategy to create harmony in your life this year! Start with these and share with me how these have helped you in your life!
- Prioritize: By creating priorities and deciding what needs more of your focus and attention, it will give you freedom from worrying about everything in life. Remember in my last post I encouraged you to keep a small notebook with you at all times. This is where this comes in handy! While you are taking notes about things that need to get done let’s take it one step closer. With three folders whether it be ones from your local office supply store or virtual folders in your tablet or phone let’s create 3 folders. The “Now” folder, the “Not Now” folder, and the “Never Now” folder. I learned about this technique in a time management workshop and it’s a great practice to prioritize your lists. The “Now” folder is what you want to accomplish in that day, or in my case the upcoming week. The “Not Now” folder holds what you want to accomplish in the next 30 days. The “Never Now” are items that you want to research or take care of down the road. Once you create your lists in the notebook you are going to separate those items into your 3 folders. Review the “Now” folder daily and move the “Not Now” items into the “Now” folder. This system will force you to plan and will give you a sense of peace that things will get done. Part of being stressed about having too much to do is not organizing what needs to happen first. It also stems from getting overwhelmed with feeling you need to make everything a priority and get it done right then and there. Structuring your to do lists into these 3 categories will be life changing! If you are someone who has trouble shutting off your mind at night, this is so important and will help you in major ways!
- Be Present: By being present in your life you tune in to the world around you and you become more focused and purposeful. More importantly, you trust in yourself that tasks will be completed and you do not have to worry about falling short in your efforts. This is a practice that takes full commitment. Perhaps it means turning your phone to silent, maybe it’s setting a timer to give your full undivided attention, or it could be dedicating special time to pay closer attention to who you are in the company of. We often are urged to multi task and that can create a real chaotic dynamic in life. I know it’s hard to discourage it, but being mindful or really paying closer attention to what you’re engaged in is so effective at minimizing stress both physically and mentally!
- Give yourself “YOU TIME”: I always give the analogy of the airplane emergency instruction, to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. If you give yourself dedicated time, you will be a better wife, mother, friend, co worker and so on! As women, we are guilt driven and people pleasers at heart and we have to start caring about ourselves as much as we do for others! I get it, we are all busy, it doesn’t mean dedicating hours but do what works for you and your life. It should be on your terms, but this does need to be a priority in your weekly schedule, otherwise you are going to get burnt out! Then what good will you be in your quest to get everything done and be everything to everyone?! Carve out time to do something that gives you joy. I should mention this does not include talking on the phone to a girlfriend. That’s different. “You Time” is not time to talk and run through all the stuff going on in your life or complain about what went wrong in the week, this is time for you to unwind, pursue a hobby, pamper, meditate, exercise, create, or whatever it may be, but do it for you and no one else. It’s ok, I promise!
- Be flexible: This simply means to go with the flow. Things in your “Now” folder may need to go to your “Not Now” folder at some point. Things come up in life and shuffling things around doesn’t have to be stressful if you have a way to organize it. Stress comes from not knowing how to handle a situation. Having a strategy to organize what you need to accomplish will give you freedom and ease. Be flexible with your self, set boundaries, be ok with saying no to someone, and accept that change can also mean an opportunity to learn and adapt. If you anticipate things to come up it’s not going to be as scary so make an effort to not be so rigid. How many times have we comforted someone by saying “it’s ok”, sometimes we need to just say it and make it part of our internal dialogue. At the end of the day, just do the best you can!
You got this, and remember I am here every step of the way!