Life balance is on everyone’s mind in 2020. And for a reason. After the main hustle, side-hustle, #girlboss, always-on culture, we might have started feeling frazzled and burnt out. Everyone is talking about increasing productivity, optimising your life, better multitasking, leaving you feeling like you are not doing enough or never quite fully “optimised”.
Then all of this got swept off of our feet with a global pandemic forcing most of us to not leave our houses for months. For some, this was a much needed time to slow down. But for others it came with a whole new array of challenges and self-imposed expectations.
Growing up we were taught to believe we can do anything. Somewhere along the way that got translated into feeling like we have to do everything. Women especially set particularly demanding expectations to themselves - caregiving, successful careers, family - all falls on the shoulders of women, trying to handle it all seamlessly. It’s ok to put ourselves first, we don’t have to deny ourselves the small pleasures, like ordering that latte every now and then and most importantly remind ourselves that we don’t have to be constantly on.
What does it actually mean to be balanced? Is it just a buzzword?
To be balanced is to give yourself a space to breathe and not feel like you are being pulled in a million different directions. The result is feeling more grounded, calm, more in control of your life even if you aren’t.
In practice, balance means a different thing for each person depending on what and how much you are trying to handle. Is it work and family, study and social life, relationships and obligations, trying and learning new things vs the opportunity to give your mind and body a rest, eating healthy vs indulging and the list goes on. The common thing is that both ends of the spectrum are usually positive but if you take one to the extreme it could start weighing on you and get yourself out of balance.
Getting your life in balance is a conscious and slow process, requiring an aspect of discipline and self-control over the well-known and familiar urge to do everything.
Whenever you find yourself off-balance, follow these steps to get yourself into alignment:
Acknowledging that some parts of your life need improvement is the first step. Making a conscious decision to become balanced is an important part of the process. Remember that you don’t have to do everything and trying to actually have a negative impact on all the things you are trying to achieve as well as on your mental and emotional state.
Be honest with yourself and notice which areas of your life you are neglecting or which ones are weighing on you. It’s a good idea to use a journal to jot down all your thoughts. Think about what are the most important elements for you, what comes easy, what you really dread doing, what is taking up most of your time and what you genuinely enjoy doing.
- Set goals and Prioritize
Setting goals is the initial kick-start motivation to get you going with executing your plan. Make sure your goals are realistic and remember your main goal is balance. You can always scale your goals in the process, but setting the bar too high might set you up for failure.Be super specific with your goals. Vague goals and are easy to make but difficult to execute. It’s difficult to feel balance when you don’t know exactly what your goal is and whether you’ve achieved it.
Take a look at your priorities, think about what is stopping you from achieving them. Is scrolling on instagram in the morning more important for your goals than a 10-minute meditation?
Next, write down a detailed list of actions - it is always easier to take the next step if you know in advance what it is. If you don’t know where to begin, the whole task looks a whole lot grander and more overwhelming. Be very specific about your actions. It is more useful to say “This Sunday, I will make a list of 3 recipes I want to cook this week and then go to the grocery to buy all the ingredients” than “I will start eating healthy” or “I will spend 1 hour of uninterrupted time with my child every day” instead of “I will spend more quality time with my family”.
This is the most important part - have a go at your planned strategy.
How did you feel about having a bit more order in your life? Do you feel a bit more balanced? What was the most difficult part? Are you still leaning towards old habits of expecting too much from yourself?
Remember - you are doing this for yourself and nobody else. It’s important that you enjoy the process instead of having one more task on your dreaded to do list.
Go back to these practices as often as you need to - every time when you feel like you’ve lost your focus and balance. It is easy to get swayed back into bad practices, so it’s important to take the time to ground yourself every now and then and remind yourself what are the important things in your life.