Balance. We all want it, we all talk about getting it, but how many of us truthfully have it? I know I sure don’t! I chastised myself for months over my lack of balance and organization; criticizing myself that I wasn’t trying hard enough. If only I had more time (don’t we all wish that), I could get to everything on my to-do list and spend time doing those other fun things. What’s that called? Oh yah – life! But no, I wasn’t getting more time and I felt like I was literally spiraling out of control and losing my balance.
I was so frazzled that I couldn’t sleep or focus. Thoughts wouldn’t stay in my head long enough for me to write them down before they escaped and a new thought appeared. Desperate, I took a “me” day. I told myself that all I needed was a day to focus on myself and get some clarity; that doing this would allow me to regain my precious balance. It was on this very same day that a coach friend of mine posted a video about balancing work and life. She’s a full-time Beachbody coach and works from her home while raising her children. I remember clearly that I was chopping up vegetables for my salad when I heard her say, “balance doesn’t exist”.
Talk about shocked! All this time, I had been seeking this all powerful balance and here she was telling me it wasn’t even possible? She continued only saying that you’ll never have that perfect balance because your priorities and obligations change. You’ll have seasons where you will have to put school or work first, thus throwing it out of balance with your personal life. Then there will be times where work will have to take a backseat to your personal life. As my boss told me just the other week, “It’s just a job; this is your life.”
What my friend had said was absolutely mind-blowing for me. Here I was, sitting at home on my day off and struggling to plan and prepare so that I could feel more balanced. Well now that I knew that couldn’t be achieved, what was I to do? I could’ve said screw it, grabbed a beer, and sprinted to the pool or beach for some much needed R&R. But I didn’t. Why? Because for me, planning was actually very therapeutic for me. That particular day, I had decided I wanted to work on my goals based on my vision board. I created an entire poster board with all of my goals and how I planned to achieve them. I had large, long-term goals, and then mini-goals guiding me to achieving them. So although I knew this activity wouldn’t bring me balance, it would at least bring me happiness and peace.
Not even a month later, I was completing some online training for my job when I came across a short webinar entitled Achieving Balance and Letting Go of Stress. How odd and coincidental that I should come across this particular training at this very time, when I absolutely needed to see it the most. (I later came to realize that this was the Universe/God planting little nuggets for me to follow). The training was screaming my name, begging for me to click on the link and explore. So, naturally, I did. I printed out the participant’s guide and spent the next hour listening to the speaker provide insights to what could be causing stress and how to eliminate it in order to bring balance to your life.
One of the concepts that really stood out to me was she called The Life Balance Wheel. This wheel has 10 spokes to it, each representing an area of our lives. These key areas of our lives are: spiritual/self-time, family, relationships/love, career/study, wealth/finance, health/fitness, and service/community, social/friends. The activity that was presented in the training was to make a dot on each spoke representing how balanced and satisfied in that area of our life. The higher the score, the more balanced you felt. After you finished placing the dots, you were to draw a line connecting the dots. The goal was to get something that faintly resembled a circle or oval shape. As you can probably imagine, mine wasn’t anywhere close to the desired shapes!
Now, keep in mind these few facts. First, I knew I was all out of whack. I had a lot going on in my personal life during this time period and was experiencing trouble sleeping. This, in turn, caused me to become drowsy at work and rely on caffeine to get me through the day. Let’s not forget the mile-a-minute thoughts that I had been experiencing as well. All of these factors contributed to a very unstable and unfocused mindset for myself. So no, my wheel was not perfectly balanced.
But you know what? I didn’t feel ashamed at all for one second. Nor did I begin to play the blame game and slide down the slippery slope of being angry about “how things could be but…”. Instead, I noticed what areas were much lower on the scale. These were areas I knew that I needed to work on. In particular, I was low in my family, relationships, career, finances, service/community, social, and spiritual/self-time.
As you can see, I counted anything that was a scale level of 5 or lower as “deficient” for myself. I was already cognizant of most of these deficiencies, either because I had noticed it myself or others had pointed them out to me. But why was I so low in these areas?
- Family: I don’t have any immediate family that lives near me, and I don’t have a close connection with my extended family that is local. So, for all intensive purposes, my husband is my family. I do talk to my mom daily, whether it’s via email or phone call. That’s really the only reason this area is at a level of 5.
- Relationships/Love: I’ll be honest with you – my relationship has been rather rocky in the past 6 months. Right around the 1-year anniversary, things seemed to begin to suffer. Not immediately, but slowly I began to notice little changes in the dynamics of our relationship. Progressively, we began spending less time together in the evenings and on the weekends because I began to form new hobbies. It wasn’t intentional, but I certainly begin to focus on things that made me happy.
- Career/Study: My career is not something that I ever would have considered low, so I was surprised that I scored it this way. I had begun noticing an inner shift in myself where I was almost longing for more. I had noticed these feelings and expressed them to my husband, but I received a mixed response. Obviously I couldn’t just change my job at the drop of a hat and I couldn’t really tell you what it was that I was longing for. I just felt that I could be helping others more so than what I was currently doing.
- Service/Community: This is an area I’ve absolutely been struggling in. I don’t volunteer, even though I know I should. I just never seem to have the time or energy. A part of me misses working with children (but not the stresses of teaching), and I’ve thought of volunteering to mentor a child.
- Social/Friends: With my schedule and my lifestyle, I haven’t really focused a lot on social time. I’ve been trying to save up for a baby and home, while also struggling to get pregnant. I chose to clean up my diet in hopes of readying my body for pregnancy, which meant abstaining from alcohol. Now, this isn’t the only reason I gave up alcohol. Please know that I’m not against drinking; I just struggle to maintain my emotions when I do drink. Either I become irritable or depressed; neither emotions of which I enjoy. Not to mention the dreaded hangover the next morning or the blackout nights. So, for me, it’s smarter and safer to abstain. All of these factors combined has made me less than inclined to go out drinking with friends.
- Spiritual/self-time: This area of my life has been lacking for some time now. My husband and I started going to church for the first time this year, and I could tell a difference immediately. I felt even just the slightest more connected, both to him and in my soul. I knew this was something I had been missing and I was eager to re-connect to. Unfortunately, we weren’t diligent about going every week or watching it from home.
Over the next few weeks and months, I really tried to take what I had noticed from my first balance wheel and find ways to improve my weak areas. As silly as it sounds, I found a 30-Day Relationship Challenge with cute ideas to help you re-connect. I began implementing these little tips daily in hopes of improving my relationship. I even took a few days off in hopes of re-connecting and re-charging myself. This time off also helped me to re-focus on my work projects. I also began to do yoga every day, helping to boost my spiritual/self-time.
Now, two months later, I decided to re-do my Wheel of Life Balance just to see how I have progressed. Honestly, I wasn’t too surprised at the areas that have fluctuated.
- Family: As I stated earlier, I don’t have the luxury of living near my immediate family. I have extended family and some of my in-laws, but no one that I’m particularly close to. I consider my husband my family. With the shift in dynamics of this relationship, it is understandable to see how this area of my life greatly decreased on the balance scale. The only thing keeping this at a level 2 is that my parents were just here on vacation. I was able to spend an entire two weeks with them and I couldn’t have been happier. Still, the disconnection I’ve been experiencing in my other family relationships has me very much out of balance.
- Relationships/Love: My relationship is going through a “winter” phase, or so my friend termed it. There is a lot of change, adjustment, and growth going on. I no longer feel connected as I once did, and thus I am running very low in this area of my life. I can tell daily how this un-balance is affecting me both personally and professionally.
- Career/Study: While this area may not have changed much, there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes. A good number of changes are coming; I can feel it. I don’t feel very secure or comfortable, which is also driving the imbalance of this area of my life in comparison to other areas. All I can do it remain focused, do my very best, and know that I am making a difference. At the same time, I know that I need to be ready for whatever direction life points me in.
- Service/Community: Sadly, I haven’t had the time or energy to address this area. My hope and goal is to give back somehow during the holidays, whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen or winter break programs for children.
As you can see, life is every changing. I began this blog post over two months ago and the perspective of which I took at that time is drastically different than my current mindset. As you probably noticed, my spiritual/self-time did improve and this has allowed me to be more in touch with myself. With the amount of activity going on in my life at this present time, I know for sure that I will not be close to balancing out my wheel. That is going to take a very long time, and you know what? I’m ok with it.
One thing that I have noticed throughout this “winter season” is that I’ve begun to relinquish some stubborn mindsets and habits that I’ve held onto for so long. The old me would have been losing her mind; frantic because she’d lost control of the final things that mattered. Instead, I have actually been a bit more at peace, with a “ok, this is what is meant to be” attitude. Trust me; it’s not rainbows and unicorns everyday. I have an enormous about of stress and imbalance still going on, and because of this I’ve been more apt to not focus on little things that don’t matter as much. Whether I cook dinner or have to pick something up shouldn’t be the end of the world. There are larger things that I can be freaking out about. And although it may sound crazy, I promise you that letting some of these things go has helped me to de-stress.
While this may be a darker, more somber season of my life, I am still growing. In my mind, I am just a caterpillar, hunting for the perfect place to build it’s chrysalis and begin the final transition to it’s best self – a butterfly. I will emerge from this chrysalis in my truest, most honorable self. And no, I won’t have everything in perfect balance. But I will have faith and confidence in myself that each season has it’s purpose and to embrace whatever it is that I should be working on as each one passes.