Everyone wants balance. It’s the hottest commodity. If it were a stock on Wall Street, there would be a run on the market. If it were a novel, it would be #1 on the best sellers list. We talk about it, look for it, strive to get it, we grab, opt in, opt out, make lists, and struggle to capture this elusive animal we call balance. So, if balance is a universal desire, and we as human beings are so intelligent, why haven’t we discovered the formula for attainment?
We’re a society of do-ers
Balance is a quality that everyone needs; in the coaching world, balance is seen as essential for lifetime fulfillment. Every client I have consulted claims they want to acquire this trait during our initial consultation. Balance can feel like it doesn’t come naturally, and for some, it is something they have never experienced before. We’re a society of doers, not be-ers. Americans aren’t taught the fine art of balance, unless they are lucky enough to have had an enlightened role model or been fortunate enough to work with a Life Coach. Usually the way people in our society stumble upon balance, is after they have been hurt or ill. Sadly, poor health can be the only time people give themselves permission to cultivate better balance in their lives. This is not a healthy way to live.
The ride of your life
Imagine a bicycle wheel. If you were to divide the aspects of your life into segments of a wheel, what would the biggest pieces be? Career, family, personal growth, money, health, significant other, home, recreation? Most of us never stop to look at our wheel. Many of our wheels are uneven or missing entire pieces, while others have excessively large pieces that dominate the structure. Some people ride along bumpily for years, barely making it up that hill. When our segments are more equal, it is a smoother, more enjoyable ride. We can coast along freely with the wind in our hair. Acquiring balance is a conscious commitment. We need to stop, assess where we are, and decide where we want to go. To help balance your wheel and enjoy your ride, you can begin by implementing 5 new strategies like the ones listed below.
Start saying no
Some of the methods of seeking greater balance seem controversial, like saying no. Who wants to say no? Nay sayers or Negative Nellies, perhaps? As people pleasers we are taught that saying no is a bad thing. We are told that saying no is negative. We are condemned for saying no and given the third degree when turning someone down. I tell my clients that when they can say no without giving an excuse, they have achieved a new standard of self-care. Truthfully speaking, saying no can be one of the greatest gifts in your life. Once you learn to say no to the small and irrelevant things, you can say yes to the grand and exceptional ones! Learning to say no gives us more time, energy, and freedom.
Establish personal values and make them priorities– Another way to pave your road to balance is to learn what your highest personal values are. Identify your top 3 values and make time for them daily. Personal Values get your motor running in the morning. They make your life worth living. Unfortunately, many people do not know what their personal values are.
We get our personal values confused with traditional religious values or the values of the company we work for. Unless specifically advised, we’re not taught to identify our own personal values.
Delegate tasks and responsibilities– We think we have to be superheroes. In our society we are taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength. Just like executives who delegate responsibilities to their staff, we too must identify what we do best, and delegate other tasks to those better suited or those who enjoy doing them more. Ask yourself, “what do I do that no one else can?” Those are the items for you to focus on! The act of delegating frees up time and energy to give our unique talents and abilities that we were born to contribute.
Block out time for self-care- There may be nothing more important that we do for ourselves to acquire balance than block out time for self-care. Self-care is-care for our best self. We need to learn to schedule time for self-care just like we would for a business meeting. Self-care can be as simple as a favorite Pilates class, a walk outside during a break, lunch with a friend, playing the guitar, or writing in a journal. If we do not take care of ourselves, who will? We are the gate keepers of our joy, we make a commitment to nurture ourselves, and we can either continuously move forward in the direction of balance, or deteriorate. The choice is ours.
Eliminate tolerations- Tolerations are nasty little buggers that move us away from balance. Tolerations are a myriad of things that we put up with that take up space in our brains. We tolerate people’s unwanted behavior, or a dripping faucet, we tolerate a past due bill or a person we need to have a discussion with. When we allow these things to go on, they take up space. We think about them subconsciously. In order for us to create room for better balance, we need to eliminate tolerations. I bet you can name 10 things you are tolerating right now off the top of your head. Ready, go! Get rid of those tolerations.
Acquiring balance is a commitment. If we are not focused on it, it will elude us. Think of it as a commodity, something that’s worth your investment, time, and attention. Balance may seem like a luxury, something that’s far in the distance, but the truth is, balance is essential for quality of life. Just as imperative as exercise and good nutrition, acquiring balance may be one of the most important aspirations you set, and another step that you can take to live your best life now.