When I think of balance, I think of something like this:
This is a cool rock, for sure, but looks like a really precarious position for a person to be in and to maintain. I mean, how long can you hold a position like this before everything comes crashing to the ground?
Instead of work/life balance, I like to think of each day as a little survival show – one where the characters stay the same, but the challenges change.
Maybe something like Naked and Afraid? Only we’re mostly clothed, except for those days when we stay in our pajamas all day and play in the mud.
In my show… I mean life, someone is always generally a little uncomfortable and itchy. Someone is always afflicted by some type of ailment – real or imagined. There’s fighting over food (usually the dogs, but not always). Most days, some type of emergency occurs, and generally, around mid-afternoon, I’m hiding in the bathroom questioning my life’s choices.
I’m kind of kidding, but really not…
See, life right now is really full – work and kid and a house that needs work. Also, dogs and a hamster and the list goes on…
Most of the people I know are in this same position where life is just too full to be balanced. Sometimes they are in that position by choice – maybe graduate school. Sometimes they are in that position by circumstance – divorce, finances, kids.
Whatever the reason and the situation, I always have some advice for people in this position – if they will listen to me, anyway. Here it is now.
First, be kind to yourself. Always be kind to yourself. It is impossible to be perfect in all areas of your life when you have too much going on. That’s fine. You don’t always have to be perfect – sometimes you just have to maintain.
Second, if you can, choose what you will set aside for the moment. Maybe you decide to hold off on buying a house. Maybe you decide not to tackle a new diet and exercise program. Maybe you step back from some of your community work. Maybe you let your house slowly descend into a barely recognizable living space covered in toys and… stuff… just lots of stuff… This last one is mine – the rest are all true examples from some of my students. Anyway, when you have too much to reasonably do in a day or a week, then it’s time to figure out what needs to be put aside for now. It’s better that you choose what to let go than life chooses for you – like a big rock that comes crashing down on your life (like the rock above, if you didn’t get that reference…).
Third, try to set aside a little time each day – or week if that works better – for you. This might be exercise, yoga, or binge-watching tv. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that is truly yours – not something that you think you should be doing. This time should make you feel better, even if it’s just a little bit.
Finally, try to stay healthy. Your health isn’t time for yourself so it doesn’t count as number 3. Get enough sleep. Eat somewhat healthy. Go to the doctor. Try to move a little each day. Stress is hard on your body – like really hard. So try to counteract some it’s effects by taking care of yourself.
Last but not least, because I can never just stop talking… If you do find yourself eating a bowl full of brownie dough and washing it down with a glass of wine instead of eating a salad after a nice jog, be kind to yourself. If you do find yourself dropping a ball because you took on too much – maybe you missed a meeting or forgot someone’s birthday or don’t have any clean underwear – be kind to yourself.
Basically, when in doubt, just be kind to yourself, you’re doing the best you can.