It has become quite a popular notion in recent times the concept of having balance in life. In the corporate world, work-life balance initiatives or programs are offered to employees, encouraging them to take part in activities or events outside of work. In the coaching world, coaches are “coaching” clients on how to get more balance in life. But is this concept of balance in life really a feasible concept?
I can only share my perspective on this balance concept and why I’m not a fan of it. I have had mentors who teach this concept in their programs and I’ve always had a little chuckle especially when they weren’t a shining example of someone who is balanced in life. This raises the question of what does is mean to be balanced in life. Obviously every person will have a different idea of what balance means to them. Whenever someone brings up the concept of being balanced in life with me, I will usually ask them, “Can you name one person you know who is balanced in life?” Usually, there is a long pause before giving a response of no.
Here are my three reasons to stop chasing balance and what can be done instead.
- In a state of perfect balance, nothing happens. Have you ever tried to balance a pen on your finger? What happens when the pen is finally balanced? Nothing! It just stays there and doesn’t move. Life is different! We’re in a constant state of motion or as some experts phrase it, “we live in an ocean of motion”. In order to walk or run, you have to move your body into an unbalanced position then rebalance yourself as you move forward.
Instead, be okay with certain areas of your life needing more attention at times. That will mean some areas will not get as much attention sometimes. The key is to be clear on what areas of your life are important to you and be intentional about giving those areas the attention needed. For example, if you’re working on an important project that is requiring you to work longer than normal, be okay if your relationships don’t get the attention for a short period of time. That may even help you do a better job with your project or you may even finish it sooner. The danger, however, is if it becomes a long-term behaviour and you totally neglect that area of your life.
Remember, all areas must have some attention however they do not require your attention all the time!
- Balance is not an end state. You don’t ever actually reach a state of balance. You are always in the process of “balancing”. Think of it like a roller coaster – sometimes, some areas of life are up, sometimes they are down.
There are times when you will need to totally focus on something that demands your immediate attention. For example, if you have a family emergency or a health issue, the chances are you will make that your top priority and everything will drop down your priority list. In situations like those, nothing else really matters and you will do what you need to do to address the situation. Accept that there are some things in life which are unexpected and beyond your control. Be willing to accept that.
- Having a routine is more beneficial than chasing balance. If you’re clear about which areas of your life are important to you, then it is much easier to give them regular attention. Neglect certain areas of your life can have immediate or long-term consequences.
An area where I tend to get off track is maintaining my physical health. There are times when I get so absorbed in the work I am doing, that I make the excuse I’m too busy to exercise. Total neglect has brought un-welcomed health issues in the past which is why I have created a routine for regular exercise.
You are more likely to follow through with a commitment either to yourself or to someone else if it is scheduled.
By applying the concepts I’ve shared, you can finally let go of this idea of having balance in life. It seems to be working for me and I hope it can do the same for you too.
Question: If you were to stop chasing balance this year, what would you do instead?
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