Do you ever dream of a perfectly balanced life?
One where you are well-rested from self-care, well-dressed because the laundry has been completed and actually put away, and well-fed as dinner is tasty and on time. Family members are positive and problem free. Work is trouble-free. Your calendar and tasks are working like a well-oiled machine. No errands await. The radar screen registers level and problem free for the next several months.
This perfectly balanced life sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?
Confession time. I wish I had a perfectly balanced life.
Both my hands are waving in the air like a twisting Tinker Toy.
I wouldn’t mind trying that kind of life. Trying to keep it for a while.
Maybe a long while.
My attitude has been known to get twisted in a snarly knot because I see no perfectly balanced life on my horizon. Or even in the distant future. And more confession. At my age, I was hoping that after putting in all that time and learning all those life lessons, my perfectly balanced life would have now arrived. And decided to stick around full-time.
But it hasn’t.
I also thought by now I would at least know how to organize and maintain a perfectly balanced life.
I am failing at that too.
If you are reading this post because you are looking for the blueprint to the perfectly balanced life or want to know what percentages you should categorize your life into, well then, I have another confession to make.
The perfectly balanced life does not exist.
Not for you. Not for me. Not for your friends.
I hate to be a party downer, but I just can’t lie to you.
The perfectly balanced life is an elusive myth, like the Loch Ness Monster, an alien baby president, or a unicorn herd living among the Antarctica penguins. Okay, maybe it is not quite that crazy, but it is as unattainable as having a perfect life. Raising the perfect child. Or becoming the perfect mom.
The truth is there is no perfect anything.
We like to think these things exist somewhere, and that maybe we can one day become one (or learn how to become one), but the truth is that they exist only in our imagination. Or on our goal board.
There is no perfectly balanced life.
So now you know the bad news. You can’t have a perfectly balanced life. But there is also some good news. You can have a life that is mostly balanced for you.
What you say?
Yes, you can have a life that is balanced for you and yours.
So how do you obtain this mostly balanced life?
Keep these 5 steps in mind when finding balance in life (or how to achieve your mostly balanced life):
1. Decide what balance looks like for you (and your family). Quit looking for the right formula. The perfect pie chart that tells you how to divide your time and commitments. Because everyone’s mostly balanced life will look different.
Figure out your needs. A working mom’s life will look different from a home school mom’s life. Balance for a single person will be different from a married person. Figure out what self-care, friendship, commitments, responsibilities, work, play, and expectations are reasonable and healthy for you and your family. What tasks can you accomplish? What tasks can be delegated? What tasks can be hired out? What areas needs more focus, which areas needs less focus? Maybe you need to schedule more time for play and quit working so much. Or focus more on achieving your dreams and less time on Netflix.
Be realistic and honest. You may be able to organize the annual fun run this year, but not next year. So, before you say yes, and take on another task, make sure you are currently able to accomplish what you already have on your plate. Learning to say no will help keep your life more balanced.
Remember that as time moves forward, your balanced life will change, and you will move into new stages and opportunities. So, re-evaluate what balance looks like for you on a regular basis.
2. Everyone’s balanced life looks different, so no comparing or judging. We are all in different stages. Accomplishing different goals. Our families and lives are different. Just like there is no one approach that works with infants to get them to sleep through the night (otherwise there would not be 3, 486 theories on Dr. Google), there is no one system or pie chart that works best for everyone when trying to balance their life.
Some people’s lives will look similar to yours, and other people’s lives will make no sense to you. And that is alright. Everyone is making choices and decisions based upon their family and situation.
One woman will have the time and skill to make her own cheese from scratch and then make fresh cheese appetizers to bring to the party. Don’t compare yourself to her or you will feel bad about your store-bought cheese platter. And you shouldn’t. Do what you are good at and what you have the time for. Don’t compare and then feel guilty about not doing it all.
But you say. I could make my own cheese from scratch and bring freshly made cheese appetizers to the party and feel better about myself. Yes, you could. But do you want to start playing that game of trying to keep up with every Sally Jane? And will doing that bring balance or unbalance to your life? It may wear you out and bring some looks of admiration from others and some bragging rights, but it certainly won’t make you a better person, increase your worth, or add balance.
3. Know your triggers and limits. (And those of your family.) The more you know about yourself and your family members, the easier it is to plan and maintain a mostly balanced life.
Maybe you have children that need time to unwind and just do nothing. We call them free nights at our house. My family thrives on free nights. Knowing this fact about us, I am careful about scheduling something every night and instead build in nights where nothing is going on.
4. Excelling in one area of life will cause you to fail in another area of life. If you focus on working late every night for two weeks, something will have to drop. Maybe it is making dinner. Tucking the little ones into bed. Going to book club. I am not sure what will get absorbed and put on hold, but something will.
Does that mean you shouldn’t work late? Commit to extra things? Never say yes to opportunities?
No. But let’s be realistic. Realize when you devote extra time to one area of your life, another area will shrink or disappear for a while. This is just going to happen. So, weigh your options.
You know the feeling when you arrive home from vacation and the next morning you feel overwhelmed with laundry, unpaid bills, unread mail, and the 392 other things clamoring to be done? It is because more attention was focused on play and relaxation and laundry and daily tasks were put on hold. Balance is wanting to be restored. It is now up to you whether you will focus on feeling like a failure because of the laundry or remember the success of your vacation.
Part of living a mostly balanced life is realizing these equations and not getting upset or surprised when they happen.
5. Quit trying to do it all. If you have bought into the idea that you can look like you just stepped from a fashion magazine, work full-time, attend all your children’s events, have a clean house, eat dinner as a family, volunteer at the food bank, keep up with your 25 girlfriends, make homemade lasagna for the potluck, decorate your house like a pro, and get 8 hours of sleep a night, than you have been hoodwinked.
No one can keep up a schedule like this for very long before falling down in exhaustion.
I know social media, magazines, and others are telling us that we can be all, do all, and accomplish all, but we can’t. We are flesh and blood and have only so much energy. So much time. We can’t keep adding things to our life and not face overwhelm or fail in another area of our life.
Lesson your stress and give yourself permission to lower your expectations to reality. You will be happier. Those around you will be happier. And you will be one step closer to your mostly balanced life.
I want you to remember this.
You can’t have a perfectly balanced life, but you can have a life that is mostly balanced for you.
Let’s move closer to real balance.
A livable, real life that contains boundaries, looks like us and our needs, acknowledges our limits, and is achievable.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
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Join the discussion: What helps you live a mostly balanced life?