Let's talk a little bit about life balance. I found some excellent tips on WebMD on how to create better balance in your life.
- Build downtime into your schedule.
- Drop activities that sap your time or energy.
- Rethink your errands. Can you delegate your tasks to someone else or trade services with neighbors and friends?
- Get moving. Exercise can make you more alert.
- Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.
Are you rolling your eyes right now? Because I did when I read that. I am going to give you some of my own personal life balance advice.
It doesn’t exist.
I know this sounds crazy. If you are like me, you have been striving to find that life balance since high school-juggling school work, your social life, after school sports or activities and once you are old enough handling a part time job.
I just recently listened to a podcast that featured blogger Sarah Wilson. She states, “The pursuit of life balance has become yet another thing most of us are crap at, which means it’s yet another thing we feel compelled to master, which means it’s yet another thing to add to our to-do list”. She came to this conclusion after seeing a 2009 study by Marcus Birmingham who asked the question, “What are happy women doing differently?” And the response was not finding that perfect balance between work/life/family/passions/spirituality.
“These happy women….realized that balance was impossible (and therefore stressful) to achieve, but also rather boring. Instead, they “tilted” toward activities and commitments they liked and found meaningful.
I love this idea. Tilting.
And here’s why: tilting doesn’t require putting the brakes on.
Braking constantly is exhausting. Saying “no” is exhausting and doing things for balance, rather than because it matters to you is, frankly, martyrish.
Tilting on the other hand is a positive flow forward, a moving “with” life.”
This study intrigued me. Marcus Buckingham noted that over the last 40 years, women’s happiness has trended downward as compared to men’s, this despite gradual increases in power and prosperity. I am sure as you read this you have an idea for the reason of this decline but when it comes to you (and let me put this out there too-I get this study is focusing on women but I realize men have life balance issues as well J), you know better than anyone whether you’re happy. You know whether you feel you are living the life you are supposed to live. If you want to self-diagnose the kind of like you’re living, try the questions Buckingham used in his study on yourself:
- How often do you get to do things you really like to do?
- How often do you find yourself actively looking forward to the day ahead?
- How often do you get so involved in what you’re doing you lose track of time?
- How often do you feel invigorated at the end of a long, busy day?
- How often do you feel an emotional high in your life?
If you are not able to answer these questions positively, understand that your time is limited and valuable. You can choose where to place your energy, depending upon where they need to be. Ask yourself, what are your priorities in life?
Caring for your kids, physically and emotionally?
Supporting your partner?
Maintaining social relationships with friends?
Working or creating to nourish yourself?
Looking after your own health and well being?
Finding contentment in life?
Creating a home that is calm?
Then, one by one, think about how you have given each of these priorities time, effort and attention over the last 6 months. Do you feel confident that you are giving them the attention they deserve? Are there any areas that don’t get enough from you? Can you see times where you consistently tilt the wrong way? Can you see seasons where your tilting makes sense?
Keep in mind, you are the only one who can decide what your tilting looks and feels right for you. If you keep your priorities in mind, you will find that tilting and adjusting your time and efforts will help you find a much better overall balance, than if you constantly battle to keep things even.
Check out Marcus Buckingham’s article here.