My social feeds are full of ideas and strategies to help me find balance in my life. But what if the balance concept is all wrong. What if we are trying to strive for a place that never really exists.
As a working mother I have acute knowledge of the struggle to find balance. If things at work are going well that voice is saying “but what about the family”. You spend amazing time with the family and that same voice starts saying “other colleagues put in more effort than you….they deserve more, how do you expect to fulfil your potential?” This same voice also questions “why are you taking time to exercise – your should be with your family or work!” And I have no doubt it’s not just mothers who are struggling with this concept of balance.
So after 18 years of successful parenting (which will continue for a life time), a great marriage and more than one satisfying job I’ve finally come to the conclusion that balance is not my thing. Balance in my mind conjures up images of a set of scales – what goes onto one side doesn’t go onto the other, rather it puts things out of whack. It also makes me think of standing on one leg – it takes so much effort with little reward – and that one leg in the air isn’t being used for what its made for!
The concept of balance requires each part to be equal. If each part was equal and definable, then with the multitude of research out there and the number of wellness professionals providing advice they would have by now come up with some explicit formula for just how much time we should be spending in each area of our lives to achieve balance. But that would assume that we are the same. That our values and the definition of success is the same for each of us and this just isn’t the case.
We are all unique, our bodies, our strengths, our beliefs and our vision of success
I find it more helpful to think, not of balance, but of finding my mix. My mix will have a unique make up compared to yours or anyone elses. That’s because my mix supports my values and my unique definition of success. My mix will make me thrive and actively participate in a life that I have created. When my mix is wrong I lack energy, motivation and joy. So how do you find your mix?
Step One – Figure Out If You Already Have The Right Mix
I find utilising the eight pillars of wellness is a great place to start. (There are many versions of the pillars – find one that works for you). These pillars cover all aspects of our life and enable you to define how well you are meeting your needs under each. This then provides a visual for you to know where you need to focus to get or keep your right mix.
Step Two – Figure Out Your Values
Often when our mix is wrong its because we are spending too much time in areas of our lives that don’t align with our values. When you get clear on your values you will find decision making so much easier. You’ll be able to finally identify why this particular area isn’t being satisfied and then take steps to create the right mix.
Step Three – Define Your Own Success
Just like Thrive Global, the Vivify community is all about ensuring that everyone is able to define their own success and then create a life that they actively participate and thrive in. When we allow others (friends, family, media) to define success we can set ourselves on a path that when we reach the destination we are unfullfilled and exhausted. Think about what success means to you. Yours will align with your values and when it is written down will provide you with a burst of energy and desire to take action. If you don’t know where to start check out the great articles at Thrive or engage with a coach.
Step Four – The Journey Doesn’t Stop
If you are after a “just do this one thing and your life will be joyous always” you are in for a life of disappointment. Our lives are journeys and the mix will include times where we have to put extra effort in to stay in our zone. Shit happens and its up to you to decide how you react. I’m yet to find anyone with self pity who thrives though I know lots of people who, rather than choose self pity, chose to make the most of what they do have and are thriving in lives full of challenge. Set yourself little check in’s (weekly, monthly – its what works for you) to reassess things and change up the mix where needed. Don’t give up because you may lose the right mix for a period of time. Be grateful that you can recognise this and then take steps, however small, to get back to where you need to be.