Have you ever found yourself stuck in a rut, trying desperately to figure out how to claw your way back to the clean fresh air of mental clarity. Like a hamster on a wheel running for your life with no way to slow down; no way to stop the madness that has become your every waking moment! Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but seriously, life can all seem to run together like one long monotonous circle of responsibilities, leaving little time for anything else. My question is: how do I get off this treadmill or at least slow it down enough to enjoy life a little more?
What I’ve come up with is Balance:
- Stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of a vertical axis.
- Equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements.
Balance is more something to strive for than something to have. Even the simplest lives in a society as complex as ours are going to be acted upon by countless divergent interests. Family, work, school, to name only three, but if you have to participate in all of them more or less at the same time you’re going to have conflicts, and that’s without having to consider diet, fitness, health, social life… etc., and all the subcategories of all these and all the innumerable relationships that our lives are a collection of. Still I have to believe there is a way to bring more balance to our lives. It’s a struggle though. We seem to have a lot going on; we humans. Between climate change, politics , and all the various kinds of war being waged on so many different fronts. The big picture for ‘us’ as a whole is complicated and none too pretty, and while we all can play a small roll in the solutions, most of us are unable to make any noticeable difference in any of these devastatingly large and unquestionably grave situations. We are however, the ones that say yes to all the immediate things that are driving us crazy. So even if we can’t change the world we can own our actions concerning most of the activities we choose to undertake. In doing so we can locate and stake out whatever free time we uncover and fill it with whatever we want, knowing we have fully participated in the activities we decided to enter into our calendar, thus balancing as much as possible the amount of time we spent between commitments and free time. Like I said,” it’s… something to strive for…” Perfection is dull and probably impossible anyway so in this case all the fun is in ‘the reaching for’ and ‘taking control of,’ or rather ‘ownership’ of whatever we can.
Here are five points I use to engender balance in my life:
- Having a morning routine that sets the tone for my day. I meditate, pray, exercise and have a healthy meal every morning. These bring focus and clarity to the start of my day. They are also balanced between being mentally and physically beneficial.
- Creating a manageable schedule. This can not be overemphasized. Taking time every week to plan out my schedule for the next week or maybe every two weeks lets me know if I can say yes to other people’s plans with confidence or no with a clear explanation if needed. I colour code every area of my life, making sure that I’ve scheduled all the time I need for the activities that rejuvenate me and bring me joy. Then I schedule all my family and work commitments, including commuting and meals times. The leftover white space is like mad money to be spent on whatever I choose.
- I unplug from all my technology driven electronic devices for at least 4 hours a day whenever possible. I get that a lot of people make their living, and stay in touch with friends and associates through social media, but everyone can disengage for a little while each day, preferably before bed time. I like to give my head a breather and let it do it’s own thing for a while or read a few pages of an actual book. There’s something to be said about the touch and feel of an old school book. It’s like giving my brain a paint brush; very relaxing and probably essential to exercising some of my basic creativity muscles that would otherwise lay dormant.
- Spending more time outdoors. I go for walks, I’m particularly fond of beaches or any place that has a body of water. There’s something very tranquil and grounding about the sound of running water, the wind blowing, birds chirping and cool fresh air. I find it very calming. But any green space will do.
- I delegate wherever possible. A functioning life has a lot of moving parts. Some of which either aren’t my thing, or are so inconvenient as to be almost impossible for me to work into my plans, so I ask around and sometimes I can find someone who loves doing something I don’t or has the time to do it if I do something for them that they can’t fit into their schedule. If you have kids, friends or colleagues you should at least give it a try. Just remember that everyone has to give and receive in these kinds of arrangements or people will stop answering when you call.
For me there’s nothing juicer or more delicious in life than striving for a balance. When my mind, body, soul and spirit are actively seeking it, it creates freedom and ease and from there I can greet each day with a smile!
What actions are you going to take to cause a paradigm shift your work life balance?