While watching the incredible gymnasts compete in the Rio Olympics this past week, it struck me that the hard work, effort, and concentration they put into keeping their balance during their routines can shed some light on the reality of the "balance" we try to accomplish in life.
The word "BALANCE" in itself is kind of hysterical if you think about it. Do you EVER feel completely balanced with all of the things you try to make part of your life? I don't. These are some of the things I am always trying to find a way to fit my life, and they are constantly tugging at me and my attempt at balance:
- Spending fun time with the kids
- Working at work... and at home
- Running silly but necessary errands: Grocery, Library, Target, Gas, etc, etc
- Spending time with my husband
- Cleaning the house
- Getting exercise
- Having ME time that does not involve commuting in traffic
- Eating and making healthy meals for my family
- Planning the next week's activities
- Getting enough sleep
I've found the hardest part (especially since motherhood) is that often I don't honestly know if an activity is going to lead me towards balance, or send me toppling off the tightrope. Last week, I thought for sure that staying up last week for two extra hours working to complete ONE project would make me feel so much more in control the next morning... and therefore help me feel less overwhelmed and more balanced.
I ended up having three terrible nights of sleep and feeling completely behind at work the entire week. Would going to sleep earlier that night have made a difference? Maybe, but maybe not.
Sometimes you know what you need, and sometimes you don't.
It's ok. Just do the best you can. If something you try doesn't work, give yourself a break. We are all human. Take a deep breath, get back on that tightrope, and try a different approach the next time.
I loved reading Michael Hyatt's blog post about what "balance" between your work and life really means. It's CONSTANT. Think about the last time you had to balance on anything: a yoga pose, one leg, a ladder, or an object on a playground. When you actually are in the balancing state, there is NO rest -- you are constantly wavering and willing your body to keep that balance. That realization and thinking about 'balance' in a different way has helped me to accept that it's always going to feel like work.
Just look at the Olympic gymnasts -- when they are holding their entire bodies up by a single hand or foot on a balance beam, bars, or even suspended from rings, they're not standing or hanging there in perfect balance without any effort. They are working hard, utilizing every muscle and every ounce of concentration to accomplish those few seconds of balance. And it pays off!
Balance doesn't feel like vacation or a free day. But finding that spot when you are working towards filling your plate with the right things feels much better than having it toppling off the table completely under the weight of all the wrong things. The hardest work often has the biggest payoffs in the end.