We say we want it, but what does it actually mean?
When I think of balance, the first thought that comes to mind is the lady justice holding the scale…now this could be that I spent 3 years of my undergrad degree studying law, but a balanced scale, or equal weight is often the first image that pops into our heads (and if it isn’t, I can bet that you’re thinking about it now).
There are a lot of health coaches out there that will say that the best thing to work toward is balance. And I’m one of them too, but I think there might be a bit of confusion around what I mean by balance.
Because here’s the thing…
Balance…in its traditional sense, is bullshit.
It doesn’t work. Trying to give equal weight to ALL areas of our lives means that we are going to end up burnt out and a situation in which we don’t end up putting the right amount of time and effort into the areas of our life that require it.
Let’s say we are a parent to a young child, have a demanding career, a healthy social life, and do our best to get to the gym and make healthy meals. We also try to ensure that we find time for our own self-care, quality time with our partner, and personal/professional development.
If, day after day, we try to give equal weight to each of these areas of our lives, we’ll run out of time. Or we fall ill…or something else happens that throws us off.
Then we get upset and wonder what the hell these coaches were talking about. Because balance sure doesn’t work.
Inevitably, our traditional notion of balance gets…off balance.
Perhaps we can try shifting our perspective on what balance means. Right now, balance is primarily about giving EQUAL weight to EVERY area of our life,
What if balance is about giving appropriate weight to each area of our lives?
When I refer to balance, this is what I’m talking about. Appropriate weight to each area of life versus equal weight to all areas.
This is subjective for each individual, and it will change. Some days, appropriate weight will mean our children and family get more attention, and other days it means our self-care and personal development get more attention.
This requires a lot of self awareness, and in a society that prides itself in the grind/work, hustle mentality while ignoring our own internal signals, this can be pretty tough to do.
If you find yourself drawn to doing something, notice it. It may be a sign that this area of your life needs a bit more attention (not to be mistaken for guilt, which is a entire topic in and of itself). Really craving a night in by yourself or out with friends? It could be that your own self-care needs an extra bit of attention. Pay it what it needs and you will be keeping your life in balance.
Practice self compassion.
Understandably, giving appropriate time and attention to each area of our lives is not possible all of the time. And there will be moments where we feel like we are being pulled in many different directions at once.
Showing ourselves a bit of kindness can go a long way to ensuring that when life is out of balance, we can still keep our sanity.
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