Life Balance is a Myth
Life is out of balance.
Finding a better balance will make me less stressed out.
If only I could balance everything in my life I would be happy.
If my spouse/co-worker/kids/family member would take more responsibility for things my life wouldn’t be so out of balance.
The myth says if your life is “balanced” everything will be peaceful and your days will flow smoothly.
We spend so much time and effort pursuing this elusive balance! I believe that pursuit is actually a big part of what makes life so stressful – continually trying to juggle life back into balance is actually what makes life crazy.
It’s an impossible task!
Life Coaching clients want a life of balance, where every area of importance is given equal time and energy; so our health, relationships, finances, career, spirituality, energy levels, community involvement and recreation time all feel satisfying and working smoothly.
What exactly is Life Balance?
What do you think of when you imagine a balanced life? Is it all about getting the right stuff done every day?
The dictionary defines it as “A harmonious blend of occupational, familial, social, and leisure pursuits.” Most people have a least a vague sense that they should have this balanced blend of life pursuits in the form of doing something positive in each area on a regular basis.
The focus in that definition is on what we DO. Remember that, it will be important when we get to finding solutions.
We might do a wheel of life assessment in order to start identifying where the problem areas are vs where we feel content. Then we can spend weeks formulating plans to improve the weak areas.
We are trying to find the life satisfaction we believe a life in balance will give us.
We get tripped up believing satisfaction is found in the externals of life – our relationships, our job, our living situation, our health or looks. If only we could get everything feeling stable and good!
Life simply isn’t that stagnant. It is continually growing or decaying. Unexpected events pop up that speed up the growth or decay.
Just when you think your relationship with your mother-in-law is finally on good ground, she gets an illness that brings out her most unpleasant, demanding alter-ego. You have to give up time set aside for relaxation or career enhancement in order to tend to her needs.
Suddenly you are getting behind on your exercise routine, eating take – out way too often, and neglecting that special project the boss asked you to work on after hours.
We kid ourselves into thinking “once I get over this hump, I can get things back on track” I can’t tell you how many years I wasted believing that! After far too many frustrations and a mountain of self-condemnation for not being good enough at managing my time, I finally realized –hey! There is ALWAYS a new distraction, a new problem, a new emergency or a new demand on my time.
It never ends (unless we become a hermit, and even then I think mother nature will step in with a few surprises to upset your simple life)
So, if disruptions never end and balance is ultimately impossible, where is the hope for a more satisfying life?
Better than Balance
What if “life balance” isn’t the goal after all? As I said earlier, when most people think of achieving life balance they think of investing equal time in all of the important areas of life on a regular basis.
But, as I pointed out, so much of life just happens and it’s outside of our control. People get sick. Jobs are lost. Economies shut down. Unexpected bills come up. That is life and it just keeps coming.
So what do we do to find some semblance of order and control in life ?
Do you want to be a person who:
- Gives Freely
- Keeps Boundaries
- Spreads Encouragement
- Lives out Your Values
- Lives with Integrity
- Experiences Joyful Connection with others
- Is Unselfish
- Prioritizes People over Tasks
- Exhibits Confidence and Assurance
- other ideas?
All of those are states of being. We do have control over who we are being in any given moment. Are you being reactionary, freaked out and worried, or proactive, calm and in control? We do not always have control over what happens. We do have control over how we react.
Here’s the secret – happiness, true lasting, deeply felt happiness in the form of contentment and joy, does not come from our external circumstances, our looks, our material possessions or from how much we accomplish. It comes from living as our best, most authentic self. Being goals, like the list above are examples of great personal goals to cultivate toward becoming a more confident, happier, stable person. You can pursue them anytime, during any situation. No matter what life throws at you, you can choose to practice giving, or keeping boundaries, or spreading encouragement, or any of the others.
The bottom line is we try to find balance in the vain hope of being less stressed and more fulfilled.
The truth is peace and fulfillment don’t actually arise from a balanced life. They come from being our best selves.