What matters most to you? This isn’t a trick question. There isn’t a right or wrong answer.
This is personal. It’s as unique as you are. Your ability to be honest with yourself (and others) about what matters most is the key to achieving the sort of life balance we all strive for, or rather, for the sort of balance that we should be striving for.
It’s Balance. Just Balance.
Any quick internet search will yield plenty of articles and references to “work-life balance.” This suggests that you can easily carve up different facets of who you are into neat compartments and then achieve some precarious balance between those facets. It may even sound great on paper. However, reality is a little messier.
There isn’t a “work you” and a “life you.” There’s just you and you have just one life in which you spend some time working, some time caring for your household, some time enjoying the people and things you cherish, and some time caring for you. Trying to divvy up those parts into their own dedicated spaces at their specific appointed times is more likely to lead to the opposite of balance.
Balance Isn’t Equal
When we talk about a balanced life, it doesn’t mean we evenly divide our available time and energy between the various categories of self we’ve identified. It means we have identified the things that matter most to us, as well as the things we need. More importantly it means that we’ve managed to find a healthy way to achieve both of those.
Sometimes that might mean a little more of our time and energy gets poured into our work for a stretch. Sometimes we may need to take time from our work day to invest in our own health or to celebrate our family or to invest in some other thing that we value. Finding balance is about recognizing our completeness is rooted in what we value and what we need to accomplish to maintain what we value, and then creating the life that allows us to fulfill those wants and needs. It also means that we don’t over-invest in the things that don’t matter as much to us.
Sometimes Success Yields A Little Chaos
You’ve planned and worked for the life you’ve cultivated. This is what you’ve always wanted – whether that’s your family or your career or something else entirely. With this success, your calendar is full. You’re busy running your kids to and from their activities between conference calls. You’re juggling back-to-back pitch meetings with potential new clients as your business is expanding. You’ve got that fundraiser for the non-profit you are passionate about next week and there are still plenty of details to iron out.
Yes, you do need to figure out a way to catch your breath. You also need to take a moment to savor this. This is what you’ve worked hard for. This is the goal you set and pressed forward to reach. This is good. Savor it.
Self-Care is Required
There is no balance without self-care factored into the mix. That’s not up for debate. No matter how much we value our family, friends, careers, and other facets of life, we will never have enough to give to those things outside of us if we aren’t making space for self-care.
Getting enough rest. Exercising. Eating healthy. Enjoying a hobby. Sipping our favorite mug of coffee with a healthy meal or snack. Making space to meditate or pray or reflect or whatever it is you need to tend to your soul. These things need to find space in your daily life. These are the non-negotiable tasks on your to-do list if you’re seeking balance.
Self-care is not selfish. It’s recharging you and refocusing you to tend to all the other facets of your life that matter. Taking the time for self-care is going to make you a better leader, a better teammate, a better parent, and a better partner.