I saw the title of this article on LinkedIn this week, and just had to read it: The Lie of Balance & Having It All. Obviously we talk quite a bit about balanced living here - it's even in our tag line! So I was interested in what the author had to say. (Feel free to check it out - it's a quick read.)  While I don't disagree at all with her 3 main points (make honorable choices, surround yourself with good people, and seek strong community), I fail to see where this precludes living with balance. But maybe it is her understanding of balance that is throwing me off....

Firstly, I don't see balance as at all the same thing as "having it all." Living with balance for some people - including myself - often means simplifying - having less, not more. The more you accumulate and add to your life, the harder it is to maintain balance - at least in my view.

Secondly, I admit that I don't have children (yet), and from what I've heard, life becomes infinitely more chaotic once that happens. However, I do have a busy full-time job, two online businesses (including 5 blogs), a new husband, and am in the process of buying a home, as well as fixing up my husband's home to sell. Life is a complete whirlwind! 

I also freely admit that despite my best efforts, I don't always live a balanced life! However, seeking that is a value that guides me, and I am able to achieve it to some degree more often than not. So before you give up on balance altogether, consider these 3 points:

1. Balance means having all 4 legs of the "stool" of life: Work Life, Family/Social Life, Physical Life, and Spiritual Life. It does NOT mean that all 4 legs will be even at all times! In fact, they probably won't be most of the time. As Sheena mentions in the article, our lives aren't static. Change is inevitable, and life is always in flux. That said, eventually, if you neglect any of the four legs for too long, your life will begin to suffer from a lack of balance. We've all heard of the families that suffer from one parent or another focusing all their attention on their work life. My own life is often too work-focused. But I also realize that few people reach the end of their lives wishing they had spent more time at work! So I do make an effort to regularly care for the other areas of my life.

2. Balance for you might be different from balance for someone else. You may be a person who needs less on the social side, and requires more of a creative and spiritual outlet. But if you neglect something that you need - for example on the physical side (e.g. your health) - eventually you will pay for it. In Sheena's article, she mentions that she's exhausted and overdrawn through taking care of others instead of herself. While this is sometimes (often) necessary as a parent, you cannot go on like this indefinitely. Your body and mind WILL break down if you don't eventually rest. It's just the law of nature - and balance.  Humans are not machines, and we're not meant to run like them. We need cycles of rest and rejuvenation along with our work and effort.

3. Balance doesn't mean "having it all," but it does mean having enough of what you need to live a happy and healthy life. You might not get to take a nap every day (or even once a month), or cut your toenails or get a haircut on schedule. You might not get to socialize with your friends as often as you might like. And you might not make as much  money as you think you should. But if you neglect your job, you won't have it for long. If you neglect your family, your personal life will suffer. If you neglect your body, you will pay with your health. And if you ignore your spiritual side, over time, your life will become increasingly frustrating and unfulfilling. 

True - you may never achieve perfect balance in your life, but I feel that seeking to maintain a reasonably healthy balance through the shifting sands of life is where the true reward is found.

So how do we find balance in our busy, busy, busy lives? Here are a few tips I have learned along the way for living a more balanced life - I hope you find them helpful:

1. Simplify. Define what you truly need to feel happy and fulfilled, and make that a priority. Cut back on the rest. Do your best at your job, and then leave your work at work. Spend real, quality time with your family (and friends) when you're together - and let your kids and your spouse have a life of their own too. Find what makes you feel connected spiritually, and don't neglect that part of yourself. Listen to your body - and give it what it needs.

You may not be able to pay attention to all these areas simultaneously (and you shouldn't; that would defeat the purpose), but give them each their due - and let the other stuff go.

2. Set your own priorities. Don't listen to those that try to make you feel bad for not prioritizing things that they feel are important. Your kid doesn't have to be on every team of every sport there is year-round. You don't have to buy all the latest clothes, or have the fancy new SUV that all the soccer moms are driving these days. Prioritize what is important for your own health, sanity, and happiness, and focus on those things.

3. Know thyself. The first two above are predicated on this one, so I probably should have listed it first, but oh well. Learning to know what is truly important to you in order to live a life that is happy and fulfilling is paramount to discovering what you need to achieve balance.

For example - I have chronic back problems, and I know how often I need to work out to stay relatively pain-free and functional. I also know what forms of exercise make my back feel better instead of worse. I know that I need to do yoga at least once a week in order to stay sane - and flexible and relaxed. I know that if I miss church for more than 2 weeks in a row, I start to feel lost and adrift spiritually. I know that if I go too long without talking to my girlfriends, I get stir-crazy and start unloading my problems onto random strangers.  :-)   Well, maybe not the last one, but you get my drift.

Knowing what you need is important to living a life of balance, no matter what that entails for you. (Part of that comes naturally with getting older I think, but self-examination is also important for living a life of purpose.)

And lastly, I will leave you with a great quote I heard in church this morning from Romans 14:17: "For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

There you have it - living a balanced life does not depend on what we have (eat or drink), but on HOW we live.

Live well, live happy, live with balance and joy!



01/08/2015 11:29am

The informal education starts in an earlier time than does the formal education despite of the fact that more value is granted to its formal type. This is due to the fact that informal education begins at home and that is the place where the child is first educated.


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