Balance has come up for me a lot lately. I remember distinctly watching my nine year old daughter learn to balance on her bike without training wheels. As a coach, I often work with clients who want more balance in their lives. As a solopreneur, I have recently rediscovered my relationship with balancing a checkbook. And in yoga class, my instructor is always introducing me to poses that challenge my sense of gravity to its limits.
Balance isn’t about staying in the middle all the time, it is about staying centered, whatever that may be for each of us. Take a minute and walk on an imaginary balance beam with your eyes closed (go ahead, I’ll wait…). Notice that you are shifting too far in one direction or the other, and then making a slight adjustment to get back to where you feel most comfortable. That’s balance, and it requires three steps:
- Understanding where you feel comfortable,
- Noticing when you aren’t where you want to be, and
- Making appropriate adjustments.
So how do we do this in life?
Understanding. Paying attention to yourself is critical to understanding where you feel comfortable. In this society we are conditioned to look externally for our desires and approval. Taking time to figure out who are you and what really makes your heart sing is not always fully embraced. Think about how much time and money most companies spend annually on strategic planning, or how much time you spend planning for your family. What if you spent some time doing some planning like that for yourself? Like a company, you can re-evaluate your own mission, adjust your plan, and make sure you are still relevant to your primary customers (the most important people in your life, including yourself).
Noticing. At it’s core, noticing is about being present in every moment and paying attention to where we are at right now: mind, body and spirit. This is something that most of us find challenging. We are constantly worrying what’s next, or re-working something in the past. It’s all about being here… right…. now. Nowhere else. How often do we catch ourselves not listening to our kids or our spouse until they are half-way through their thought? If you aren’t present, it’s not likely that you’ll figure out you are out of balance until you are about to fall over! I challenge you to take one hour, or better yet, one day, and focus on being completely present in whatever you are doing.
Adjusting. This is really all about making minor adjustments. Most of us couldn’t tolerate a large scale shift; we are already juggling children, marriages, jobs, and other “normal” stuff going on. More importantly, most of us don’t need to make big adjustments to get back to a place of comfort (though if you do, you might want to try out our 1:1 coaching program!)
So, what is it you want more of? What do you want less of? You can choose to live your life with more balance. How? Pick one or two things that you can reasonably do in the next week that will get you closer to your ideal, think about what might get in the way of you accomplishing your goal, and do some contingency planning. Then, write down a commitment, or better yet, tell someone your plan so that you have an accountability partner. Then, when you notice how successful you were, celebrate! If you weren’t – don’t beat yourself up – just make another adjustment and test it out again. And above all, enjoy the ride!