My 5-year old daughter is learning to ride her bicycle. I tell her, “Mommy is going to push you from behind until you find your balance.”
“What is balance, Mommy?”
“Uhhh, it’s what keeps you upright, so you don’t fall over. But it’s easier when you’re moving than when you’re standing still.”
And isn’t that true in life also? When we are balanced we are never perfectly still. We are always making little corrections, adjusting our weight, changing our grip, moving a little more to one side and then the other. Sometimes while we are balancing it doesn’t feel like we are at all!
This made me think about the idea of attaining work-life balance. Is it a myth? Is it an unrealistic goal? Maybe I’ve been misinterpreting the concept all along and it really is worthwhile to strive for.
Here are three vital facets of balance we need to understand, especially as it pertains to our work and personal life:
1. Balance is not the same as rest. Often we think that if we can just manage to find balance in our lives, everything will run smoothly and we’ll finally get a much-needed break from all the struggles. The truth is that balancing can actually be hard work and although finding work-life balance includes time to rest, balance is not the same as rest. Balance is about allocating resources in their appropriate quantities to the different priorities in our lives. Always adjusting, always correcting as we go.
2. Balance is dynamic. We’ve all experienced what I told my daughter “…it’s easier when you’re moving than when you’re standing still.” The slower you try to ride your bike, the trickier it is to keep upright. And then just as you think you’ve found your balance, you start losing it again. Just as you managed one work-week excellently, the next week requires your full attention again to equalise your task lists, schedules, etc. Momentum helps us keep the course! And it’s important to just keep going and not give up.
3. Balance is intentional. We know a Balanced Life won’t happen automatically and requires constant effort. Thankfully, just as with the difference between walking in the street and walking a tightrope or riding a bicycle and riding a unicycle, some responsibilities and relationships are simpler to juggle than others. Also, some will start complex and then get simpler along the way. We have to make purposeful decisions and actions if we want balance.
If we were under the impression that just the right combination of work, family, rest, exercise and hobbies was going to mean smooth sailing for the rest of our lives, then we were unrealistic.
Balance isn’t easy, fast, or always fun. It can require quite a lot of effort and that’s why it can feel like we’re not truly balanced even when we are. Sometimes when we’re doing exactly what is required we still feel like we’re losing it.
But now that we’re starting to remedy our perspective, we can see balance for what it is—a challenging but necessary approach to living. Don’t become discouraged. Adjust and keep going. It’s just part of life.
Article by Lourita Stofberg