One of the main goals that bring people to life coaching is the desire to “find balance” in their lives. Spoiler alert! As far as I have come to believe and understand, there is no such thing as living a balanced life, unless you are a robot or living a very boring life.
Folks who are drawn to me and my style of coaching often share my life values. They are high achieving and desire to be high performing in all areas of their lives. They hate the idea of unfulfilled potential and are life-long learners. They are highly functional in at least one life domain and aspire to live more skillfully in all the others. But the question of balance generally shows up in clients who are 40 years and older. It seems that by midlife, all the “things” we worked hard to acquire – the prosperous career, spouse, children, hobbies, passions, friendships, and not to mention our original family – begin to feel like plates that must be balanced mid-air in a never-ending and exhausting juggling act.
On top of the physical drain we are experiencing, we gut ourselves emotionally by adding a measure of guilt and shame. Isn’t this exactly what we’ve worked so hard for? Shouldn’t I be crying tears of joy every day for having achieved or received all these blessings?
So we write a page in our gratitude journal, which has its place in our morning practice and mental hygiene but doesn’t necessarily solve the balance problem.
The starting point for a solution is to shift our minds from looking at balance as a noun, a “thing” to be had and achieved, something that others who are more skilled in life have found, to the mindset of balancing, as a verb and a skill. Gratitude and journaling have their place in our lives, but in order to experience the joy of devoting time purposefully and productively to the things that matter to us, we need to turn pro with our calendar. Our calendar, whatever shape and form it comes in, holds the key to skillful balancing.
So now that you are looking at balance differently, understanding that we are always engaging in it just like we are always engaging in other things such as loving, parenting, sailing, etc., and realize these things are ongoing actions rather than a “won and done” achievement, please pull out your calendar.
Based on your Life Buckets, make a list of things that matter MOST in your professional life, and block consistent time in your calendar for it. But before you do that, make sure that you’ve time-blocked all the elements of your personal life. Your time to restore and regenerate gets blocked on your calendar first. After that, block time for your relationships (including partner, kids, family, and friends). The reason we must ensure our personal life gets inputted into our calendar first is because if we go too long or too far away from our health, relationships, and passions, there may be nothing to come back to. Our professional growth and prosperity, on the other hand, almost always benefit from laser-sharp focus on what matters most at any given time. I realize I’m simplifying the process for the sake of short-form writing, but I’m hoping you will at least let go of this unicorn called “balance”, and begin exploring how you can become a professional and happy “balancer”.
Professional Coaches will be a tremendous help in turning pro with this life skill. Here are my top 3 book recommendations on the subject: “One Thing” by Gary Keller, “Essentialism” by Greg McKeon, and “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.