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It’s Not About Balance, It’s About Permission

Why we might not really need to be searching for balance at all.

Photo: Laura Peill

Amidst the long days, family needs, packed calendars, side hustles and day job is this elusive thing many of us are chasing. It often seems out of reach and omnipresent, and yet, we go after it anyways. We go after this thing called balance.

We see it as this great end of the road success line, that we paint and fantasize about and dream of someday reaching. And when we reach it, we’ll be happy. Everything will work out. Everything will be less stressful, there will be more time, there will be better weekends, there will be more adventures. There will be less time spent in frustration over work, and more time spent in bliss mode at home, and with it, no more tired, hard-to-get-up mornings, or too late nights.

It’s true really: so many of us say “I just need a better balance.”

And I did too for the longest time. In fact, I remember so often, looking at my life and schedule and work and priorities from afar, almost as if I was looking down on them as the pieces of a game. I would look at them, as if trying to rearrange the pieces, picturing exactly what it needed to look like, or exactly how the pieces had to be played in order to achieve balance.

But then something would change in my life and suddenly the pieces would be strewn everywhere, my strategic placing and planning, haphazardly lost and defeated. And it would all start again from the beginning. From a beginning that never met any sort of an end and that ultimately went back to a start that was a new start every time.

There has got to be something better than this, I started to think. If this is the chase for balance and what it is going to take and what it is going to entail, I’m tapping out. And that was exactly it: maybe I just needed to stop conforming to this elusive chase that everyone claimed defined balance and give myself permission to follow something else.

In life we have seasons. Things go up and down, we have peaks and high points, low points and valleys. We can’t always be in balance all of the time. We can’t always expect to reach that high point if we’d rather be down in the valley; we can’t expect to achieve the goals that we set, chipping away at them in every waking moment, and not have to make some sacrifices along the way. We can’t expect to not have to have periods of things being hard, and things taking too much time; periods where we struggle or don’t like what we are doing, or more than that where we just can’t wait for it to be over.

But through all of that, there is another sense of balance that you can achieve. This sense of your own balance. Balance within your own lines, your own definitions; balance, where you give yourself permission to set the pieces on either side of the pendulum so that it balances out however you like.

Let’s stop beating ourselves up over not achieving balance, needing to do more in any given area of our life to better achieve balance, or to do less in another area to bring the scale back into balance. Instead, let’s give ourselves permission to paint whatever balance looks like for us, and be okay with that.

And if that picture changes tomorrow, or next month or next year, that part is totally okay too. 

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