What does balance mean? Much spoken about, something we all seek out, but something so very different to everyone.
By definition, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” Or “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” And lastly, “keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.”
So balance, it seems is a redistribution of something, so that something else doesn’t fall or fail or become out of sync. And somewhat metaphorical, balance seems to have become so relevant that the quest to seek it out, to me, seems to add just one more thing to the list of things to be ultra mindful about.
Seeking out, striving for, and managing balance for me, became stressful. And I realized that my definition of balance is not exactly equally weighted aspects of my life, but more related to the flow of the various aspects of my life. Meaning, when one area is larger than another, do the other aspects continue to flow without compromise? Metaphorically, I choose to look at this as I do raising my 4 kids. There are always times when one needs more than another, and rather than carve out time to make things equal, I instead respond in flow, bringing along the others while gently focusing on the one who needs the most at any given time. Sometimes that means simultaneous attention, and sometimes it feels overwhelming and tricky. But mostly, it’s in flow.
And life is the same. In my world, work and family are in many ways one and the same. Things don’t really ever have a start and end time at work. The life of an entrepreneur requires an incredible amount of flexibility. My kids have become incredibly patient and flexible, weaving in and out of times when I have to work and when I can be 100% present. What I do appreciate about this is the flexibility to show up when I need to for my kids. So while the trade off is never really being off, it comes with the flexibility to refocus when the opportunity presents itself.
I also remind myself that most everything in our lives has been a choice. Where we work, what we do, how many kids we have or don’t have, time with friends or at fitness classes or otherwise are, for the most part, choices. And choices that we make ourselves. So taking responsibility for our choices is imperative as it reminds us we are not really stuck in the directions we are pulled. The simple act of realizing we chose the things we have can also remind us why we made those choices.
Rethinking balance in terms of flow has changed my perspective entirely. I no longer feel like I have lost balance, but rather I see when things are flowing nicely. And when they aren’t, I just redirect the water. Lastly, flow is tough to achieve without a sense of calm. Achieving flow from a state of overwhelming or panic is not really possible. Sometimes it’s simply remembering that tomorrow, it’s a new start with a new perspective, and a new way of managing the day.
Something that helps me focus on being in flow daily is this simple exercise. This small tool has helped me and my kids have positive days. While some days are tougher to stay in flow, circling back to this strategy helps. Immediately, upon waking up, I lay in bed and think about my day and what the priorities are. I then reflect on 3 words to meditate on to take me to a state of flow. Today, for example, my words were: Productivity, Leadership and Non-reactive. These all relate to some aspect of my life that I need to practice an extra layer of mindfulness with. I repeat these words three times while breathing, or until they ‘stick’. I also journal them so I can reflect back, or reference them if they didn’t quite ‘stick’. I do the same with my kids, though not always first thing. Sometimes it is on the way to school, or over breakfast, and we sometimes do it together. They choose only one or two words to focus on daily because otherwise, it is tough for them to remember them. While they don’t always remember them, there have been many times that these words have very obviously helped them. And if nothing else, it teaches them a strategy to be in flow and to manage their own balance.
And with that, I hope flow comes more easily, and balance, in whatever definition appeals to you, is realized.