Is balance a magical idea?
In a podcast episode of Do it Scared, Ruth Soukup argues that there’s no such thing as balance, that obsession can be a good thing, and that moms should stop feeling guilty about their own needs. It’s a great episode with a lot of terrific points that I highly recommend. It’s a message that she further reiterates in her soon-to-be-published book, Do It Scared. However, I question whether we should rethink the idea of balance completely. What if instead we looked at the concept of balance as shifting priorities relevant to our lives?
We’ve inflated the idea of what balance looks like: a perfect mix of harmonious things that work together to create an ideal life. Yet the truth is that the question of what balance looks like is an individualized, ever-changing thing. We all need to step back often and consider two aspects: our current priorities and what priorities we would like to re- or de-prioritize. These moments of reflection allow us to identify what our ideal contemporary balance looks like.
When I titled my site, “Taking Control and Finding Balance” in 2016, it was going to a personal finance blog that tracked my financial security. My priorities at the time were strictly focused on financial security and happiness. These days my ideal balance is much more focused on health, happiness, and self-care and less on the finance stuff. Indeed, my current journey reflects these priorities instead. At the same time, my current priorities skew more toward work, health, and self-care than financial security and happiness.
How All Elements of Balance Work Together:
Regarding work, the responsibilities of my day job, the blog, and even my current job search are all elements that will increase my financial security which will, in turn, add to my happiness. Taking care of my physical and mental health took precedence over the last two years. For one thing, I don’t ever want to feel as scared as I did when I realized that I felt nothing about a fourth blood clot. Secondly, I unexpectedly fell into a deep depression in 2018 that I’ve only recently felt more in control of due to meds and therapy.
Working on being healthy makes me feel like I have control over some part of my life. At the same time, self-care rituals like a monthly massage or meditation don’t add to my financial security, but I do feel healthier and happier when I stop and release the stresses in my life. In turn, I feel more productive in pursuing my goals.
Yes, there is no such thing as a perfect balance. However, as long as we recognize how all these aspects work together and become more or less important, balance as a concept and a goal remains achievable.
In 2019, my priorities have turned again toward financial security. With that, I have to allow myself the grace to change with those priorities. For instance, I tried to focus on this blog in 2016 with limited success because I had two unexpected setbacks in my physical and mental health. Shifting to take care of my health since then has allowed me to come back to my blog and my job search with a renewed focus. Continuing to take care of my health and allowing space for self-care makes me a more productive person in my work which decreases my stress levels.
Why Balance is Achievable:
It all works together and even though it is not always harmonious, balance is a reasonable goal. We just have to understand that it is actually the priorities that govern your life now and that govern how you want to live in the future. It also means that we need to be willing to follow the path of changing priorities with some grace and knowledge that we can’t control everything.
How do you balance priorities in your life? How do you handle the challenges of shifting priorities? Let me know in the comments below.