Over the past few weeks I’ve heard the phrase ‘balance doesn’t exist’ written or talked about five times. All five who claimed balance doesn’t exist were women. One was the CEO of a large company with four children at home. One was a blogger with an online business, who also runs workshops and is the mother of two young children. Two were bloggers building an online business and working full-time in a regular job. And the last was a mother of three toddlers under the age of five. In these instances I agree. Balance doesn’t exist. Or rather it can’t exist.
The phrase ‘balance doesn’t exist’ has become as common as ‘I’m so busy’. It’s easy to understand why. The two go hand in hand. We hear it so often it's become a fact. We’ve stopped believing that balance exists. So we’ve stopped searching for it. And if balance doesn’t exist, then does it matter if we add more to our daily plate? If our lives are always going to be out of balance, why even try achieving it?
The problem I have with people saying that balance doesn’t exist is that they are implying it never exists. And that I don’t agree with.
I do believe there are periods in our lives when balance isn’t achievable. The mother with three toddlers under the age of five isn’t going to have a life that feels balanced. Not for a long time. But it doesn’t mean her life can never be balanced. Kids leave home. And at this point she gets to choose how she fills her daily plate. If she fills it with too much, balance is going to continue to not exist. But if she fills it right, she may find it.
But there are other times when we are choosing to live a life unbalanced. And if this is the case, I don’t think its right for us to go around declaring that balance doesn’t exist. No one held a gun to the heads of the two bloggers above and told them to build an online business, while also working. They chose to do that.
It’s the same with the CEO. And before everyone starts jumping up and down ... yes she should have the opportunity to pursue this career and have children. But again she has chosen to do so knowing it would lead to an unbalanced life.
Instead of ‘balance doesn’t exist', maybe we need to start saying ‘balance can’t exist right in this moment of my life’. We need take ownership of the fact we have created the life we are living. It is always going to have ebbs and flows. There will be times when our lives are busier than other periods. And there will always be unexpected circumstances that have an influence as well. But on the whole we choose what we say yes and no to.
Let me give you an example. A friend of mine has, by her own admission, a life that is too full. She is always running from one commitment to another. If she isn’t working she is ferrying her children to after school activities. Her two children attend at least one activity after school each day. The weekends are the same. She is also the first to put up her hand to volunteer. She runs stalls at the school fair. She organises fundraising events. And she makes costumes for her daughter's ballet recital. No wonder she is always feeling frazzled and pulled in too many directions.
Over the past year I have chosen to live a more balanced life. For me this means one that doesn’t make me feel stressed. Life is still busy but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Not all days feel balanced, but over the course of a week a sense of balance exists.. I have time for those everyday commitments. I have time to exercise myself and the dogs. I have time to do my writing and editing work. I have time to spend with my fiancé and I have time to get eight hours sleep a night. I also have buffer time in my week. So should the unexpected happen I’m not scrambling around trying to make up the time I've lost.
I have enough on my plate, but not too much. It’s not always been this way. Last year I was the one scrambling around feeling frazzled. But this year I chose to start taking things off my plate until my life felt more balanced.
So when someone tells you that balance doesn’t exist, I’d take a close look at what their life looks like. Chances are balance can’t exist at that moment in time due to circumstances. Or they have chosen to live a life that isn’t balanced.
I’d be interested to know what your thoughts are. Are you someone who believes balance doesn’t exist, or do you believe it can?
And if balance doesn’t exist for you, is it because it can’t due to circumstances? Or have you’ve chosen a path where it won’t exist right now? Or is it simply because you’ve said yes to too many things?
If it’s the latter you’re lucky, because you have the potential to create a more balanced life. You just have to choose to do so.