Imagine feeling that composure and tranquility from having your collective shit together. Every area of your life working in complete congruence, a harmonious symphony of……. Then your alarm goes off and you realise you forgot to set it for half an hour earlier the night before and now you’re late, so you spring out of bed, tread on some lego your kids left on the floor, curse and … welcome to your real life!
If you curiously clicked the link to this blog hoping you would discover the Holy Grail of living a perfectly balanced life, sorry to disappoint you. You should have picked up the clue in the title , specifically the word “Perfectly”. I try and steer away from using that word as much as I avoid eating brussel sprouts i.e. constantly! It’s just something us humans aren’t very good at. Now Mother Nature, she nails it. You only have to watch a David Attenborough doco to realise that. Think sunsets, the formation of snow crystals, honeycombs, nautilus shells…need I go on?
But us humans? Probably the closest we get to perfection is the way we screw up relationships, ravage the environment and harm each other! However, back to a Perfectly Balanced Life. What is that anyway? Well, balance is about maintaining equilibrium , so I guess a balanced life is one where you maintain equilibrium in all areas of your life. An unbalanced life is where something is out of whack. For example, you could be smashing goals with your career but your health and fitness has taken a hit. You may enjoy a good relationship with your loved ones, but your finances suck. What is undeniable though, is the inextricable link between different areas of our life. If not currently, most likely in the future, any area of our life that is sadly lacking will affect other areas of our life. If our health continues to be neglected, it will affect our performance at work. Poor finances can put a strain on relationships.
In coaching, there is an exercise called the Wheel Of Life. A client will be presented with the diagram of a wheel with spokes. Each spoke represents an area of their life, physical, mental, career, relationships, finances etc. They then mark each spoke with a rating of how satisfied they are with that area of their life. The closer they mark to the centre the less satisfied, more satisfied is closer to the outer rim. The dots are then joined and voila! , you have your wheel, albeit a wonky one usually.
The art of having a balanced life is to have a wheel that is as large and circular as possible. However, I would argue that it’s not possible to always maintain a perfectly ( there’s that word again ) round wheel. The fact of the matter is , at various times in our lives, we will focus on different areas and others may get put to the side temporarily . Having said that, it’s important to maintain as much of a balance as we can. Great to be fit and healthy, but you want to be able to pay your bills. You may be earning a lot of money doing that job you hate, but what’s the cost to your happiness and mental wellbeing?
I would suggest a good yardstick is to rate the areas of your life. Think of a one as being, “this area of my life really really sucks!” and a ten, “Wow, things couldn’t be better”. When you drop below five, take stock and think of the main reason it’s so low, then take a step to remedy it. What one thing could you do to bring it up a notch? But don’t wait till it’s dropped to a one or two. It’s important to take stock of your life from time to time, a pit stop if you like, to evaluate how things are going. I take clients through this process in my workshops and it’s interesting to see how they react. Many haven’t taken the time to get a perspective on their “wheel”, sometimes it can be quite confronting.
In conclusion, give up the dream of a perfectly balanced life. Incidentally, ever asked a self proclaimed perfectionist what they’re perfect at? I have , leaves them speechless! I would say, well balanced is a better intention. Giving up on perfection doesn’t mean drifting into complacency. Creating unrealistic expectations for yourself only brings stress and disappointment, while setting manageable steps for growth brings fulfilment.
Most of all, enjoy the journey. (But the results as well!)