I think about balance often these days. Not only because I experience imbalance in my body (I’m working through a knee problem with limited success). But also because my day to day life isn’t balanced.
I lead an unbalanced life
Some weeks I am on the road for days on end, traveling, taking meetings before and after work, and really going. It can feel like a grind. And then some weeks, when I’m home, I take a much slower approach to life. I work from my couch, I eat good food, and I sleep a lot. Truly, a lot.
This isn’t what is traditionally seen as balance, and that is okay. My goal is not to have each day be a neat package of time spent on specific things.
Should is the enemy of balance
Balance is intentionally devoting energy to different things, and not getting caught up in the trap of should. We put so much expectation on ourselves for what we should (I hate that word) be doing in different parts of our lives.
What type of wife or sister we should be. What type of support we should provide as a boss. How much we should produce as a committee member.
We should ourselves to death.
I fall prey to this. I have a very ambitious to-do list and it tells me what past versions of myself thought I ought to do today or this week. It can throw me off-kilter by telling me I should get to that exercise class because I didn’t go yesterday, or I should get that vision statement done before Monday. Note – it almost never tells me that I should spend the day on my couch watching Netflix.
Balance comes from intentionality
Balance happens by breaking the should cycle, and by being intentional about energy. There may be times when 100mph is the right speed and you have enough fuel to keep it going. And there may be times when 15mph is more appropriate, and you honor that by taking a step back and being still.
Where I get out of balance is when I try to make a 15mph day into a 100mph day. When I don’t listen to the need for recovery time. When I try to push through and get to the other side of the to-do list. When I stay up late to get that one piece of work done even though my body wants to be in bed.
Balance doesn’t mean that you are never working hard. It means that you are making choices. That you are listening to what you need and deciding how to invest your energy and how to recover.
Balance is so many things, but it is not perfectly divided cookie-cutter days and weeks. It is much messier than that.
Balance is choice.
Balance is listening to yourself.
Balance is letting go of should.