I have come to an “aha” moment in the past year. When I originally thought about my goals for my practice, I came up with this: I wanted to help my patients live a more “healthy, balanced life.” That was my first website (www.healthybalancedlife.com). My blog round-up feature is still called Mid-Week Balance. But what I have realized is that balance is a moving target. For those of us living in the real world, balance doesn’t quite look like this:
For those of us living in the real world, balance often looks more like this:
For most of us, actual balance starts with a wobbly, full-body effort and then only lasts for brief moments before we are back to wobbling.
As Mother’s Day approaches (and I had the privilege of catching a bit of the excellent #ppdchat Tweetchat about the challenges of Mother’s day for moms with postpartum depression and anxiety), I’ve been thinking about the pressure that the drive to get “balanced” can create. And I think that this pressure is actually counter to the entire principle of balance.
For most people, on any given day, you are more likely to spend time out of balance than in it. You’re focused more on your kids than on your housework–or vice versa. You’re focused more on your job than on your health. Your illness has demanded your entire focus and you can’t think past your next doctor’s appointment. You’ve just survived a crisis, and it feels like all of your attention is still on managing the fallout.
So, if that’s true, maybe we need to rethink what balance means. I would love it if the moms among my readers (and the rest of you as well–since struggling with balance applies to dads and non-parents as well) took a moment to answer these questions:
- What are the top five most important things in my life?
- What are the top five things that use up my time?
- How well do these lists match?
- If there’s some mismatch (there was for me!), what can I do to readjust so that my time reflects my values and priorities?
Okay, do me a favor. If you have just done the list exercise and you’re feeling some anxiety (or if you read the questions and didn’t do the exercise and you’re feeling some anxiety), please stop right now. Take a nice gentle breath in and slowly breathe out. These four questions are about some big stuff. I’m not asking you to turn your life upside down right this minute. What I hope that you do is answer the questions, compare your lists, and begin looking for small ways so that, over time, your second list can look a lot more like your first list.
Sometimes, just stating your priorities and values can be a big step towards helping your use of time match them. And sometimes, you may need to weed out a few distractions. Mostly, on this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope that you can be gentle with yourself about the moving target of balance in your life.
Image Credit: Photo by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) via Flickr Video Credit: Video by ExpertVillage via YouTube