Balance Rocks

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I hear all the time that people are striving to live a balanced life. Oh, I’m so overwhelmed…I really need to be living a more balanced life.

Balanced Life. Does anyone really have this? And what does a balanced life mean, anyway?

bal⋅ance

/ˈbæləns/ [bal-uhns] noun, verb, -anced, -anc⋅ing.
to arrange, adjust, or proportion the parts of symmetrically.

So this means that we expect to evenly distribute our hours, days, weeks, months, years between all the things that we love, want, need to do? If that seems like a feasible way to approach life, you may want to go back and read that again. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Do you really expect to evenly distribute your time every day, week, month, year between all the things you do or want to do in your life?

Take a typical work week. 120 hours. You spend 6-8 hours a day asleep. Let’s call it 7 for “accounting purposes”. Over 5 days, that’s 35 hours. Which leaves you 85 hours. 40 hours of that is spent actually working. 5 of that is spent in transit (a guesstimated average—hooray if you have less time in transit!). That leaves 40 hours a week for everything outside of work you want to accomplish. 5 hours a day. And that’s just if you work a 40-hour week. Can you evenly distribute those “5” hours a day between your family, friends, exercise, personal self-care time, breakfasts, dinners, entertainment, getting ready for work or going out, etc.? I cannot.

Now take a look at another definition of balance.

bal⋅ance

/ˈbæləns/ [bal-uhns] noun, verb, -anced, -anc⋅ing.
a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.

Well now that’s different from distributing evenly, isn’t it? This definition of balance is about balancing. Humor me for a moment and try something. Stand up. Lift your right leg like a flamingo. Hold it for 30 seconds and notice what your left leg is doing. Notice the movement in your left leg and foot. Notice the adjustments your muscles are making in the absence of help from your right leg. Let this be your new definition of living a balanced life.

Your life does not have equal parts or compartments (if it does, you’re the anomaly. And if you have children, I’m preaching to the choir.) You like it that way. It takes too much time that we don’t have to divide everything up equally and live like a robot. What your life does have is work. And kids. And relationships. And expectations. And unknowns. And out-of-the-blues.

What’s important is making the adjustment when kids and relationships and work don’t meet your expectations or bring the unknowns and the out-of-the-blues into your life. Remember when you were standing on one leg and the muscles in your leg and foot went haywire with action to keep you from falling down? You put your arms out, adjusted your legs, and used your body to keep from falling over. You might have even put your right leg down. All of that is part of making adjustments. Your body innately knows how to do this. And so does your mind. Your mind just may be out of practice.

There’s an accident on the way to work and you’re going to be late. You have a presentation due at 8am, but now you won’t be in until at least 8:30. Do you simply say, “Oh well, I guess I don’t have time for the presentation anymore.”? Or do you make an adjustment and call in to work to push the presentation back an hour, or even reschedule for another day? I bet you do. But what happens when there’s an accident on your way home from work and you now no longer have time for [insert all the things you make the excuse “I don’t have time for that” here]?

I’m not suggesting that you cram everything you had planned into your day, even when the out-of-the-blues come up. I’m suggesting that you make an adjustment. That you exercise balancing your life. I’m suggesting that you make a conscious choice about what you’re doing every time something changes. Is that too radical? Maybe in the beginning it feels like that. But once you’re practiced, you’ll wonder how you ever moved forward without it.

Life is not a pretty little box with equal sized compartments. Life is free flowing and open, and just about anything is possible. Don’t waste your time trying to put everything in your life in the “right” compartment. Some compartments are big, and some are small. Some are square, others are oval, others still are a shape there’s probably a ten-letter word for. A balanced life is about taking a look at the compartments of your life and seeing what shape they are. And then learning how to walk freely with these compartments of your full and robust life, without letting them fall all over the place.

Apples photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jean_koulev/ / CC BY 2.0
Balance Rocks photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aeu04117/ / CC BY 2.0

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