One of the things I do each January and at the beginning of each month is reeavaluate how I'm spending my time. There are givens that need my attention every day and there are things that get in the way of being productive. To really find fulfillment in life, I think it is imperative that we create balance. There is always so much to get done in a day, and so many people need us; yet, if all we do is give, give, give, there is nothing left in the tank for us. And frankly, an empty tank means way less productivity and less meaningful relationships.
Have you ever seen a tightrope walker in a circus? He is on a rope suspended high in the sky. His purpose is to walk from one end of the rope to the other without falling. He holds a long bar in his hands to help him maintain his balance, but he must do more than simply walk. On his shoulders, he balances a chair, and in that chair sits a young woman who is balancing a rod on her forehead. Atop the rod is a porcelain plate. Talk about pressure. The tight rope walker moves and waivers slightly, then readjusts, so he doesn't come plummeting to the floor. It's complete craziness, but it is also a pretty good description of what we sometimes try to accomplish on a day to day basis.
Life is very much a balancing act, and we are always just a step away from a fall. We are constantly trying to move forward with our purpose, to achieve our goals, all the while trying to keep in balance our work, our family time, volunteering, friends, fitness etc.
As a wife, mom, business owner, entrepreneur, blogger, personal trainer/lifecoach, it's extremely important that I prioritize my day, both for my productivity and for my own sanity. Experiencing Balance is experiencing peace. It's learning to say No, and making room for the Yes's that are important to you.
What’s the first step? To stop and assess how we’re doing. To look at all the various aspects of our lives that we are constantly juggling, constantly trying to keep in balance—marriage and family, money, health, social circles, spiritual development, mental growth.
Are we able to devote ample energy to all areas? Or are we tipped to one side, unbalanced in one direction? Here’s some tip to help balance it all out:
1. Take a look at your life as it is now.
Looking at ourselves as we really are is the first step in restructuring our lives. Do you feel physically exhausted, mentally stagnant or lack meaningful relationships? Are important things not getting done? Are late fees piling up? Would you call yourself a workaholic? Do you feel a lack of spiritual alignment? If you answer yes to any of these questions, your life is probably out of balance.
2. Make a conscious decision to become balanced.
Steven Covey has a great analogy about making time for the things that matter each day. Imagine that you have 2 jars. Each jar represents your life and what you need to do each day. Next to each jar are 3 smaller jars filled with sand, pebbles, and large stones. The sand represents all the things that distract us keep us from reaching our goals each day......excessive time on social media, our phones, the tv etc. The pebbles represent the things we need to do each day that are just part of the every day.....dishes, laundry, carpool, homework. And the Stones represent the major things that are important to us.....marriage, family time, work etc.
If you try to put the sand in first, then the pebbles, then the large stones, they won't all fit in the jar. However, if you lead with the large stones, then add the pebbles and finish with the sand, they all manage to occupy the same space without running over.
All that is to say.......It is extremely important that you identify what is most important to you and tackle those things first. For me, Healthy Relationships, Fitness, Work, Church are all my highest priority, so I will Make sure I spend the most time each day cultivating those things.
3. Keep your Goals and Intentions Visible
It's easy to say what we need to do and then forget about it 4 weeks later. I suggest writing them in a journal and revisiting them each week to keep yourself accountable. For example, Social Media is both a priority and a distraction for me. I do so much of my work online, yet, it's super easy to get sucked in when I'm making a post or checking in with my clients. To keep myself from getting super distracted, I need to set goals for myself to limit my time on my phone. I strive to put my phone away at meals and to check in for 20 minutes a few times a day. However, saying and doing are two different things, so it's important that I recheck my intentions daily/weekly to keep myself on track.
4. Set goals/Intentions in every area of your life.
Set realistic goals or intentions in all areas of your life to assist yourself in remembering that your ultimate goal is balance. Your goals should cover:
• Your relationships
• Your fitness
• Your Spiritual Growth
• Your mental development
• Your job
• Your finances
5. Be Mindful and Present at meals
Try to have at least one mindful meal a day. What the heck does that mean??? It means you:
Chew your food.
Mindfulness brings freedom. It’s very easy to eat on the go, eat standing up, or just pick from your kids’ plates and snack bags all day. When doing this, before we know it, we have filled up on things that do exactly the opposite of providing balance. Want to know what's even better??? Eating together as a family and talking around the dinner table. We have been doing a little ritual that our friends Kevin and Jennifer Downs shared with us year ago, and to this day, it remains the highlight of my day.
While eating, we go around the table and ask each other the following questions.
1. What was the best part of your day?
2. What was the worst part of your day?
3. What are you thankful to God for?
3 simple questions, but oh so helpful to create the balance that we need to be able to connect with our family. It's one of the traditions that has become sacred to our family.
6. Strive for Progress Not Perfection
I recently asked my clients how they work on achieving balance each day and one of the main thoughts that was shared is how they are realizing that being balanced doesn't mean being perfect. Whooooo Hoooo! They are getting it. They are learning that Balance is focusing on the things that are important. Sometimes the floors can wait. Sometimes the phone call can wait. Sometimes it's better to outsource things like cleaning or yard work, so you can focus on the things that are most important. Likewise, with eating, balance is about enjoying things in moderation. Celebrating with wine and cheesecake on occasion is a must! Deprivation leaves one feeling unfulfilled and wanting more which usually leads to binge eating. If you eat healthy 80% of the time, then the other 20% should be for enjoying the occasional splurge.
In short, strive for balance. Look at your life and make your priority list. The other things can wait. I'll leave you with this "A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul" Shared by my client Tracy from a book called "The Best Yes"
Do you have a helpful strategy that keeps your life balanced? I'd love to hear from you!