Thanks to everyone who wrote in for the first round of questions to Ask Amy. We had some great questions come in, but one in particular that stood out. Steph from the UK asked about finding balance in life, something we all are constantly searching for. Whether you’re raising kids,working a career, trying to improve your health, or just trying to find a moment of freedom for your passions or hobbies, life can get hectic. Let’s hear what Amy from ExpandOutdoors.com had to say.
Q: “How do you get balance in your life? I let myself get overwhelmed by job, trying to get better at climbing, needing to do chores and then end up doing nothing and not achieving my goals :/”
A: Ah. The ever-elusive quest for life balance. We often think of balance as a consistent time when everything is running perfectly, we’re happy and everyone around us is happy and we’re doing what we love and getting everything done.
I don’t know anyone who’s achieved that perfect state of balance for longer than a sweet (oh-so-sweet) moment! So the good news is, you’re not alone.
I’d like to suggest we look at “balance” a little more realistically—as a practice and art form (much like yoga or meditation) that constantly changes.
It’s how we accept and adjust to the changes in our lives that can create a calmer, overall balanced feeling. Not getting everything done perfectly at once.
In yoga, when you are in a balancing pose, there are a million micro-movements that are necessary to allow us to remain in Tree Pose or Standing Bow. Our muscles are constantly adjusting and readjusting at the same time our synapses are firing in our brains in an effort to remain focused and still.
It reminds me of the quote that “serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”
Replace serenity with balance—it’s all about finding peace as you work toward your goals, one adjustment at a time.
From what you’ve shared, it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate (or to-do list). When we try to do too many things at once (perfectly), we end up compromising ourselves and the quality of our efforts, and we end up with a lot of unmet goals and frustration. Sounds like you might be here. Am I right?
Take a look at your list or goals and expectations with an objective eye. If your best friend were to read that list to you, would you think it reasonable? Or would it look like a crazy-long list?
Ask yourself, “What are my expectations with each one?” List out your chores. Are you expecting to have time to vacuum and wash your windows every day? Are there ways to create efficiencies? What does “better at climbing” mean to *you*? Climbing at a particular grade? Having more fun? Being able to lead? Going outside more? Maybe it’s feeling graceful (or powerful) as your body moves.
Distill your list down and externalize it into a journal. What are you really asking yourself to do?
Usually we expect way more than anyone can reasonably do, but we don’t realize it because we’re too busy trying to get everything done. And then we end up feeling overwhelmed, guilty and discouraged. Sound familiar? (Trust me… I know this from personal experience, too!)
Finally, ask yourself, “what can I let go of?” Are these all goals that need to be done Right Now? What if you focused intensely on just one?
There’s a technique for people trying to get out of debt that might help here. The technique is to choose the debt with the lowest amount owed and focus intensely on that one while paying only the minimum on the others. Once you pay that one off, there’s a sense of accomplishment and momentum begins to build as you turn your focus on the next one. Trying to pay them all off at once might work, but the emotional cost is high—discouragement, lack of motivation and lagging momentum.
What happens when we apply this idea to life balance?
Choose one thing on your list of goals to focus your attention on. Set a realistic goal for what success looks like (i.e., how will you know you’ve made it? A specific milestone? Time passed?). Continue maintaining the others at the minimum level required and see what happens.
When you reach your goal, reassess, reevaluate and reset your goals and expectations. Good luck and remember to practice compassion and patience toward yourself. Slowing down in order to move ahead can feel counter-intuitive, but maintaining your emotional health can reap amazing rewards down the road.
What have I missed, readers? What are some techniques y’all have for maintaining a sense of balance in life? What’s helped?
Keep the questions coming! Look for the next answer to be posted closer to the end of this month.
Amy Christensen is a certified life coach. Her company, Expand Outdoors, works with adventurous women and beginning athletes identify and break through their own mental blocks to live a bigger, more active and passionate life. She recently returned to Boulder, CO after completing one of her own life dreams of traveling around the country in a converted van. Learn more about Amy at www.expandoutdoors.com or contact her directly. She is currently taking new clients.