The idea of achieving a perfect balance between work, family, physical health, hobbies, spirituality, emotional health, and all other aspects of our lives, is fundamentally flawed. The notion that we can give equal time and energy to everything is unrealistic, and attempting to do so can lead to even greater imbalance. Think about it: have you ever seen a balancing act? More often than not, it’s about leverage rather than equal weights. In fact, balancing equal weights is typically much less entertaining and awe-inspiring. Similarly, in our own lives we need to focus on leveraging our time, energy, efforts and resources more intelligently and productively.
We cannot treat our lives as compartmentalized realities, where we try to shut off portions of our experiences to focus on one part of ourselves within a role. Instead, we must integrate and leverage our experiences in a way that makes sense for us as whole human beings. We are the sum of our parts and experiences, and each part affects the others. This will look different for each person, as everyone has unique circumstances that will affect what and how they need to balance.
Focus on the ideas of integration and alignment. Integration means finding ways to combine and connect different aspects of our lives so that they complement each other. For example, if you want to spend more time with family, you could integrate family time into your workday by taking breaks to call or text your loved ones, or making plans to meet for lunch.
Similarly, alignment means aligning your values and priorities with your actions and decisions. This means taking a step back and honestly assessing what truly matters to you and aligning your daily choices and behaviors with those values. Using the same example of spending time with your family as a top priority, you may need to align your work schedule and commitments to ensure that you have enough quality and quantity time for your loved ones. Ask yourself, “How much am I accepting and/or committing to within a week? Is it realistic and healthy?” It can be easy to get into a pattern of over-committing and over-working at the cost of our relationships.
Balance is not about achieving perfection or equal weights. Can you imagine trying to spend the same amount of time working out as you do at work and with your family each day? This mindset creates impossible expectations. Instead, it’s about effectively managing multiple items while ensuring that none thrives to the detriment of the other, and that personal values are at the forefront of planning and making choices. By leveraging our experiences, we can create a life that feels fulfilling, purposeful, and true to who we are.