So often, we hear people talk about wanting to achieve balance in their lives. How do you balance work, career, finances, personal fulfillment, parenting, family, physical well-being, and spirituality? I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it. What if the idea of having a utopian balanced life were all a myth? Think about it. Life is full of change and crises that help us challenge ourselves and grow. If you’re like me, some days start out so nicely planned and end up with putting out one fire after the next. So what about balance? Where’s the balance? Most days, we can feel like a hamster, spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.
I think it’s great to want to grow in all the areas of your life and it’s important to have a master blueprint of where you want to go, but it’s equally important to stay flexible enough to deal with what life throws in the way in the meantime. I’ve written before about my master ‘to-do’ list, where I chunk activities into goal areas, say finance, career, projects, etc. I give each area a title that excites me. It’s hard to get excited about a life area that you title, “Dig Out of Debt.” Think of something that will motivate and excite you to WANT to do the things that will get you there. Here are some of my life area titles: Home Sweet Home, Body Temple, Financially Fierce, Superstah Speaker, Marketing Maven, etc.
I set aside some time each week, usually Sunday night, to go through each category and think of as many things as I can do under each to get me closer to the final outcome I want to achieve. I don’t sit and consider whether it’s feasible or not. I just brainstorm everything I can think of, no matter how big or small. Then, for the bigger items, I go back and break them down into smaller tasks. Now, I have my road map. Each evening, I review my list and prioritize the top 3 things I need to do the next day that will get me closer to my goals. They may be simple things, like making a phone call, sending an email, etc. The funny thing is, once I get rolling the next day, I actually end up accomplishing more than those 3 things. Then, I move on to the next top 3 priorities. Each evening, I review what I’ve accomplished and acknowledge myself for moving closer to the ultimate goals, no matter how small the baby steps. By the end of the week, I’m amazed at how much progress I’ve made.
My friend, Dan Thurmon, who is an amazing speaker and juggler, uses juggling and balance in his talks as a metaphor for life and business. He demonstrates and teaches his audiences to juggle, literally. He talks about how most people think the art of juggling is difficult because they can’t imagine focusing on so many things at once. He explains that, when juggling, as in life, he focuses on only one specific thing at a time–he just does it really, really fast!!
Dan’s motto is, ”Off Balance, On Purpose.” He demonstrates some amazing balancing techniques (like juggling while riding a unicycle!) and explains how balance is a process of making constant small adjustments to keep from falling. Visit his site for inspiration and watch some of his amazing videos at: http://www.danthurmon.com/resources/videos/
So, quit beating yourself up for not being able to do it all at once. Just keep in mind that you only have to do one small thing at a time and learn to do that faster and faster while making small adjustments to stay on track. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to achieving all of your goals in every area of your life, while giving the outside world the illusion that everything is in balance!! And you know, that’s exactly what balance is.
Maria M. Marinakis, Ed.M., LADC