It’s one of the most misunderstood concepts of life: balance.
I mean, I get what people are striving for—some equal amount of time being spent in the various areas of their life: some in career, some in marriage, some in parenting, etc.
Ironically, I have learned that the key to balance is not seeking balance. Instead, balance is a result of achieving something else. Just like fitness is a result of achieving something else, like mastering healthy eating and daily exercise. It’s the same concept for “balance.”
I’m old enough to remember when every playground had a teeter-totter on it. (It’s one of the most dangerous playground toys ever invented next to that ridiculous spinning thing we called a merry-go-round but should have been called the spinning wheel of horror. Alas, I digress.) One of the challenges we issued to each other on the teeter-totter was to stand in the center of it with one foot on one side and the other foot on the other side, trying to hold the teeter-totter perfectly still in a level, balanced position. It required a continuous, subtle shifting of weight from side to side. It was so hard, but it was doable.
The balanced teeter-totter, like our life, is balanced as a result of that continuous, subtle shifting of our weight from one side to another. That shifting of weight is actually a literal act of prioritizing! The secret to balance in life is prioritizing. That is no small task and is not as easy as some would suggest.
The process of prioritizing means choosing one thing over another, at least for a moment. When you are trying to strike balance between two or more things that you feel have similar importance, the challenge begins. You want to attend your son’s soccer game but you also need to get that urgent thing at work done. Some would try and simplify the choice by saying, “What’s more important, your son or your boss?”
That’s not really a fair scenario since both are intertwined. Your son plays soccer because you have the funds to pay for the financial costs of doing so. On the flip side, you are a much more effective employee because you have a solid family life. The struggle is real! So, what is one to do who is striving for that hard-to-capture status of having balance?
Here are three proven mindset adjustments that will take you a little closer to achieving some sense of balance:
1. Balance does not mean equal time.
If balance meant equal time, then you would need to spend as many hours each day with your children as you do at your day job and then an equal amount of time with your spouse and then an equal amount of time on yourself at the gym! That’s not going to happen, nor would that really be balanced by most people’s standards.
You only have 24 hours in a day, and some of those should be spent sound asleep. While there may in fact be some people who have achieved that sort of schedule, most people’s structure of balance must still be based around a day job and the limitations that come with that. The good news is that balance is not always driven by a clock or stopwatch. Its driven by quality time.
2. Your top two life priorities will trade places periodically.
Your number one priority may indeed always be your family. I am certainly one who has always stated “family first,” and I believe it, live it, and preach it. Nothing will ever take priority over my family. NOTHING.
My second priority is to provide for this family that I love so much, and to do so, there are certain moments where I must place something else in first position for a moment. In an effort to complete an urgent project, email, or proposal, it may require stepping away from the
family to focus on something urgent at work. So in that moment, you could take a snapshot of me and say that in that moment, work seems to be a priority over family. Well, in a micro-moment, sure. You could make that argument. That moment of work-focus enables me to then return to the family, relieved of a work burden and able to now give 100 percent to the people I love. This leads to a sense of balance.
3. Balance isn’t measured hour by hour.
If you take a business trip and are gone for three days, then trying to measure balance during that time is self-defeating.
If you go on a vacation with your family and don’t do any work all week, then that too would be a bad time to try and measure your balance.
Be fair and keep your life in context when evaluating how your life balance is looking overall—not hour by hour or even day by day.
Accept that balance is a continuous act of shifting your focus from side to side and that it is something you will work at all your life. You are not alone in this endeavor. Success is not measured by achieving perfect balance. You are successful if you are continuously striving for balance.
That’s a win, my friend!
Troy Dunn is a television personality, best-selling author, and inspirational speaker. Visit troydunn.com to learn more.
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