Are You Cheating Yourself To Find “Balance”?
Every day you hear how important it is to “find balance for your life.” You hear it on TV, radio, and self-help tapes. You read it in books and magazines. But, if you have a mistaken idea of what “balance” actually means for your life, you can end up sacrificing what is most important to you for somebody else’s idea of how you should live your life.
Our Confused Ideas Of “Balance”
What do you think of when you think of finding “balance” for your life?
Do you think “balance” is achieved by dividing your activities into equal portions so that you spend equal amounts of time with work, family, rest, exercise, and recreation?
Do you then chastise yourself for spending more time on one activity than another? Or do other people chastise you with comments such as, “You’re a workaholic!” or, “You’re life is out of balance!” when you spend more time on your work than on your other activities?
“Balance” Is A Matter Of Proportion
You are on the right track when you think that balance has to do with how you use your time.
But you are cheating yourself when you think that every activity has to be given equal weight.
And you are cheating yourself when you think that you must incorporate the same kinds of activities in your day that other people think they should include in their day.
The question is, how do you determine how much time and effort to devote to each of your activities?
And how do you determine what your activities should be?
“Balance” Is Based On What Is Important TO YOU
If you are not doing what is most important to you, your life can be said to be “out of balance.” What is really meant by this is that you are not being true to your values. And when you turn your back on the things that are most important to you, you feel bad.
To achieve a balanced life, the first thing to do is to decide how important each of your chosen activities is to you, and then proportion your time for each activity according to its order of importance to you.
In proportioning your time, you don’t have to do every activity every day. You might choose to devote most of your weekends to recreation and time with family and friends, and devote your weekdays to your work, exercise, and a hobby like gardening or playing a musical instrument.
“Healthy Balance” Is Based On What It Takes To Live As A Healthy, Fulfilled, Happy Human Being
How you proportion your time depends not only on what is important to you emotionally, but what is important to you as a living organism. Your survival and optimal health requires certain kinds and amounts of rest, food, and exercise every day. This will affect how you proportion your time each day. Your survival and optimal health also requires having productive, fulfilling work and relationships that inspire (rather than drain) you. This will affect what kinds of activities and relationships you schedule into your life.
A “Balanced Life” Is A Custom-Tailored Life
A “balanced life” for you might be an “unbalanced life” for someone else. Each of us must custom-tailor our schedules according to what is important to our own individual life.
If you love the work you do, you may choose to spend a large proportion of your time each day working, and a smaller proportion of your time on other activities. If you live alone, and your family members live far away, you may not schedule any “family time” at all, except for perhaps a weekly phone call or email. If you have a large family and raising children is your greatest joy, you may schedule the major part of your time nurturing your family, and a smaller proportion of your time on other activities. If you get good physical exercise as part of your work, you may not have to schedule “exercise” into the rest of your day at all.
When you achieve a “healthy balance” for your life, you are simply being true to your life and your values.
From here on out — instead of tearing your hair out over “finding balance” for your life — just focus on spending your time according to what is most important to you and your life. You will start to love living your life — and you will no longer feel guilty or confused over someone else’s idea of a “balanced life.”