Busy to Balanced Part 6
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of
balance and order and rhythm and harmony”.
A search of the Webster and Oxford dictionaries for the definition of ‘balance’ shows that it is:
- A means of judging or deciding, or
- Mental and emotional steadiness.
If we look at this in the context of a busy woman juggling the demands of a modern society, this means that she is able to make good decisions with emotional calmness and composure.
How many women, including yourself, do you know can do that every second, every minute, every hour of every day?! I can assure you I can’t! Yes, I try to be Supermum and all, but …
If very few women we know are able to achieve a balance that works for them, how can we find a balance that works for us? And why should we even bother? It’s impossible right?
I could list for you all the things I like to do to gain balance – pilates, walking, meditation, work I love, positive and fun friends, a wonderful husband and son, great colleagues – but really, it doesn’t matter what I do for balance. It’s what you do to achieve your own balance that matters.
Don’t even let your mind wander to think about what your friend does, or your neighbour, or the colleague at the desk beside you at work. Yes, talk to them, get their thoughts, ideas and opinions, but don’t be pressured by what you perceive is their well-balanced life. I’ve been behind the doors of many homes where busy women give the external appearance of having a well-balanced life, where, unfortunately, the reality is quite different.
This is why I want you to remember that this is your life, not your friend’s or neighbour’s or colleague’s life. What they do works for them, and may work for you, but you’re going to have to discover that yourself through trial and error.
I think deep down, you already know the answer to the question, “Is there balance in my life?”.
What would I say if I was to answer that question? It’s not a simple Yes/No answer.
I run a business. That in itself may give you the impression of freedom; of coffees with friends whenever I like or the ability to attend every school function at our son’s school. But in reality, it’s nothing like that. More often than not I am answering phone calls or responding to emails, meeting and working with clients, creating new products and services, writing blog posts, running online courses, meeting with business partners and providers, developing speaking presentations and building relationships with joint venture partners. The list goes on. I am definitely not complaining; I work hard and I love what I do.
On the other side of the coin, I am the one who runs our household, pays all the bills, organises our holidays, keeps tabs on everything, and am the main caregiver for our son. I do the groceries, shopping, tidying, cleaning of our home, along with nearly all of the school drop offs and pickups, after school activities, parent teacher interviews and information nights, and play Doctor on the days our son is sick.
This isn’t that different to your life, is it? You’re juggling just as much as I am. Whether you’re a single working woman, a stay-at-home Mum of three children, or a woman working part-time while fulfilling family responsibilities outside of work, balance can be a continual struggle. It’s how we look at it that makes all the difference.
Take some time to ask yourself:
- What do you love to do that lifts your soul and your spirit and would bring a lot of joy and happiness into your life?
- What do you want to make room for in your schedule that you know, deep down, would help bring more balance into your life?
Let’s move on now, to look in greater detail at the two traits that sit underneath the concept of B = Balance. The first is Balancing Work and Home; the second is Getting Things Done.
Balancing Work and Home
“Work is just a part of our life, not vice versa.
So live life full time; work work, part time”.
I’d like you to picture a set of old fashioned scales. Ones where there are trays on either side, with an arm suspended across the top and a stand in the middle, so it can sit on a table or bench top. When the trays are empty the scales sit perfectly straight. If you were to put a cup of flour on the left hand side and leave the right hand side empty, the left hand side would drop down, the right would go up, and the scales would be unbalanced.
Using the same set of scales, picture this.
Work is on one side of the scales and Home is on the other. If you were to remove Work, Home would go down. The scales would be completely unbalanced, showing that all your energy and focus is in the home. The same would happen if you left Work on the scales and removed Home – all of your energies would be focused at work, and not home.
But what if you were to clear the scales so that they’re level again and then add a little bit of work, then a little bit of home, then a little more of each, attempting to keep the scales in balance? Yes, there would be times when one weighed more than the other and that’s OK, but if you make the decision to swing the scales back the other way you would be able to rebalance them again.
It’s important to acknowledge that these scales will go completely out of whack when life throws you curve balls. If you or your family are sick, you are dealing with stressful situations at work, within your family or community, or have suffered a deep emotional shock, there is no way you will be able to keep these scales in balance.
From my experience though, a lot of busy women still try to. It’s like they don’t want the outside world to know they’re falling apart, because they see that as a sign of weakness or failure. So instead of asking for help, they power on as if everything is fine – but deep down they’re like a delicate piece of china, ready to break at the slightest bump.
I know it’s hard to do, but it’s time to stop this cycle. Ask for help, stop doing it all, honour your body and what it’s telling you, and get off this crazy ride for a while. Get some sleep, eat well, spend time in nature. If you make the decision to rebalance your life by starting small, getting more sleep and looking at the expectations you have of yourself, then it can happen, but it’s a choice only you can make.
- Is the balance between your work and home/personal life out of whack?
- What’s missing from your life that you would dearly love to have in it?
- When will you make time to sit with the concept of balance and make the changes you need in your life?
Getting Things Done
“Life’s too complicated not to be orderly”.
Do you know someone who seems to achieve the impossible in their day, ticking off more to-do’s than any other busy woman you know? Think about it – and then bring this person into your mind.
Now ask yourself:
- What makes this woman so amazing?
- What does she do to achieve the impossible every day?
- What do you know about her that makes this seem easy?
The idea is not to compare yourself to this amazing woman – it’s to learn from her.
Maybe she has simple strategies to get her out the door on time.
Maybe she has checklists on her fridge or child’s bedroom doors to make things run smoothly at home.
Maybe she has a team around her – a cleaner, an assistant, a personal trainer – that help her be all she can be.
Maybe she focuses on the quality of her life instead of the quantity of stuff she carries around.
Really drill down on this to help you learn from her.
Again, don’t let the comparison beast take over– simply look at the situation as objectively as you can and see what you can learn from it.
And then think about your own life as objectively as you can and ask yourself the following questions:
- Where in your life do you seem to get a lot done?
- Where in your life is there stress caused by not getting things done?
- Who do you know can help you get done what you need to?
- What changes can you make to simplify your to-do list?
In the sixth and final article in this series I’ll be sharing with you how you can take all this knowledge about the BUSY to Balanced approach and make sense of it, so that you can bring about real change in your life.
To read Helen’s previous articles click on the links below