There’s a form that I use with the women that I provide life coaching services to and one of the questions on the form is, “Have you found balance in your life this week?” When I wrote this question, it seemed like a good idea. Balance is a lovely concept and one I had imagined captured the idea of juggling all of life’s responsibilities relatively well. But in all the time I have been using this form and reading women’s answers to this question, no one has ever answered YES.
Not one time. Not one yes. It seems important to share that the women filling out these forms are doing a TON of work. Self examination, personal reflection, changing behaviors, meeting the daily obligations of several life roles….these women are rockstars. They are bravely stepping into bold change, discomfort, and accountability and still trying to figure out what to cook for dinner every night. And not one of them has ever answered “YES. I have found balance in my life this week.” Once I noticed this pattern, I started to think that maybe the way I was defining the word “balance” and the way everyone else was defining it was markedly different. So I eliminated that question from the form because how most people define balance creates a set up to feel unworthy when asked if they have achieved it yet. I also decided to really look at what I mean when I ask someone if they are finding balance in their life.
Finding balance is a concept that to me means I am juggling all of my responsibilities relatively well and haven’t lost my mind completely despite the stress of having all of these balls in the air flying at me non stop. It is not perfection. It is not 100% goal attainment. It is not being busy while also being Buddha. Finding Balance to me means:
- Making room in my day/week/life to get things done. Sometimes the number of items I cross off my to do list is ZERO. And sometimes I cross them all off. Either way, If I am trying, if I am learning and adjusting my approach, I’m succeeding.
- Creating space to honor my own needs as well as I do that for others in my life. Some days I pay attention to my needs by not answering a phone call, on a really good day I get a massage, on most days, I get to the gym. The way I prioritize this will shift because it has to, but I find a way to work it in that fits in my life in that moment when I recognize I need it.
- Pushing myself to make progress when motivation is low, celebrating small achievements, and not beating myself up on days when I fail at that altogether.
- Racing through my life fast enough to make your head spin one day and staying in my pajamas and not showering on a Sunday while binge watching the Golden Girls the next. (C’mon that’s a great show!)
- Trying to be better, do better, know better. Efforts counts but so does awareness.
Essentially, finding balance means juggling a multitude of responsibilities, feelings, obligations, and other people’s needs in a way that doesn’t completely destroy us emotionally. It also means recognizing when we have allowed ourselves to swing to far to one extreme and requires us to be willing to readjust accordingly. It challenges us to stay conscious of how our choices are impacting our mental wellness and to understand that we are going to screw it up royally sometimes. But if you learn from it, and use that information to do things a little differently the next time around, you are finding balance. It’s an approach to life, not a measure of worth or success.