Life can be challenging, chaotic and we often feel overwhelmed by too many demands. On top of that, we hear so many people state that you must live in balance or you must create a work-life balance. And, if you’re not, there is something wrong with you. We then begin to beat ourselves up inside because we are not living up to some ideal life where we gracefully balance our personal time with our family time with our work time evenly. We get some false image in our mind of some happy executive spending peaceful time relaxing on the beach with his or her family and realize, our lives are far from peaceful. All of this creates more stress inside of ourselves as we then begin to believe that we are failing at life.
Why do we always feel we have to “live in balance” and what exactly does that mean?
One online dictionary definition of balance states, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” Does this mean that only when we have every aspect of our lives in equal focus we are truly in balance? Or, is the word “correct” in that definition actually relative.
As with everything I teach, it is all a matter of perspective, mindset, or attitude. Sometimes, we have situations in our lives where one aspect of our lives requires more attention that the others. When this happens, we can either decide to struggle against the situation and exhaust ourselves with thoughts of resistance, or we can choose otherwise. When you view these situations with great understanding and possibly with great positivity or excitement, then we can get our minds in incredible balance even if the areas of our lives are weighing in dramatically differently.
For example, when a mother has a baby, she needs to put the baby first for a while to feed it and nurture it to help it grow to be a happy and healthy child. She knows that during those first few months and years, the child is going to take the majority of her focus and attention. She realizes, often gladly, that priorities she may have had as a single young woman with an active social life and career focus may need to adjust for a while. Sure, that woman needs to find a way to get some personal time and some breaks from the baby now and then, but there is certainly a focus away from her and onto her child. It is when this is done with love, understanding and appreciation, that she is actually in balance. You may notice the difference between haggard worn-out parents versus those glowing with love. Many believe it is because the child is either difficult or easy, but the child is actually picking up the energy from its parents. The parent may be focusing on struggle instead of joy. We all have times when our personal or family portion of your lives demand more of our time and attention, but this can be a beautiful thing if we view it that way.
Sometimes maybe you’ve birthed a new job or a new creative project or a new book. Does living in what some call balance even make sense? When I was writing my book, “Stressless Success,” all I wanted to do was sit and write but other demands had my attention. I had to balance my time between various high priority tasks. That need to balance my time between various things actually didn’t make me happy and I struggled against it for a bit. I wanted to set everything else aside for a while and focus on only one thing. That is when I realized that what I needed to focus on was my attitude and how to shift it to patience and positivity.
I know this first hand as I just submitted my book manuscript to my editor. I knew that if I was going to add the project of writing my next book on top of everything else I do as the CEO of SanaView, that something was going to have to give. While others were going out on the weekend to socialize with friends or spending the day browsing through shops at the local mall, I was hunkered down in my home office with my face in my computer, a cup of tea at my side, and my dog, Goji, at my feet. I could have been miserable thinking about all of the other things I could be doing, but instead, I chose to be happy. I was thrilled to be there and was working with incredible positive anticipation for what I was creating.
We know at our 52-acre, historic landmark, organic farm, that when we are in the throes of peak season cultivating produce, weddings and events all at the same time, that more of our attention and that of my team will be required. We push ourselves hard, very much out of “balance” but we are thrilled with all that is happening and that we are creating. Plus, we know, that once winter creeps in, we will have plenty of time to catch our breath.
Even last weekend my son and business partner, Nathan, and I worked tirelessly preparing for, executing, and then cleaning up from our Fall Harvest Feast event at our farm. We were first concerned that maybe we bit off more than we could chew, no pun intended, but the thrill of sharing our farm with so many willing and eager participants fueled our energy. We could have been miserable as we cleaned the barn and set the tables and took out the garbage, served the guests and cleaned the dirty dishes, but we refused. We did it all with great pride and joy and our positive energy created an amazing experience for our guests. We literally savored every moment of the event and found ourselves on cloud 9 as we basked in the feeling of great accomplishment and success.
But what about work and career? If you just started a new job or a new project, doesn’t it make sense that it will require more of your time? Will you choose to feel good putting those extra hours in front of the TV or the nightly visit to the bar to share a drink with friends aside for a while? Or, will you spend time complaining that it is all too hard?
So many concerned friends and family members say to me often, “Janet, you better slow down or you may get sick. You need more balance in your life.” I say, “thank you, I appreciate your concern.” Then I turn away and say under my breath, “what a bunch of B… S…!”
I’m too excited about the work that I do and the more I do it and the more I help people get great results, the more I want to keep doing it. Plus, this is the perfect time for me to crush-it in my career because my son is grown, my parents are well, and I’m newly single. My health is perfect, and I realize I have the next decade to knock it out of the park before I decide to begin to slow down and consider partial retirement as my businesses hum along with great employees. In order for me to create what I want for my future, I need to focus now and I am not only wanting to do it, I am willing to do it.
So, what does it truly mean to live in balance?
To me, it is a mindset. It is to choose thoughts of understanding and appreciation for your current imbalanced life situation, no matter what that may be. Yes, some things are not under our control, such as a parent or a child getting sick. In those times, find things to appreciate like how much you love them, and you are glad to be there for them.
Balance is a mindset and it is a choice. Balance is an energy of patience, understanding and joy.
How can we support ourselves to FEEL balanced more often? Well, if you’ve been following me long enough, you know the drill:
1) Taking care of yourself always comes first over everything else. When you are rested, well-hydrated, find a few minutes throughout the day to move your body, and reach for healthy energizing whole and natural food (mostly colorful plant foods) then the mindset thing is a piece of cake (ooh, bad pun).
2) Be sure to re-energize all throughout the day. Instead of only focusing on your high priority project all day while downing cup after cup of high-octane caffeinated drinks, learn to set uninterrupted focused block times that are no more than 50 – 60 minutes. Then, take a short break where you stop, move your body, breath deeply, and drink a large glass of water. What you need is better blood circulation, oxygen and hydration, not another cup of Joe.
3) Set YOUR priorities. By gaining clarity on exactly what you want and the amount of focus you would like to give to your top priorities, then you can prioritize your day and your activities around those. When I was focusing on my book, I would turn off my phone and the internet and social media channels, etc. and I learned to say “no” to tasks that were not on MY priority list, as much as possible.
4) Reach for thoughts of excitement, pride, or any thought of appreciation for your current need to focus heavily on one area. Thoughts are all chosen by you so begin to practice choosing thoughts that feel better
5) Find time to do something each day that helps you create a clear, uncluttered, peaceful mind such as pray, meditate, walk outside in nature, or anything that you love to do.
It’s not about activity… it’s about attitude.
Balance means joy.
For more from Janet, check out her master class session:
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