If you’re anything like me (and all of my coaching clients), the pressure of trying to keep every part of your life – work, relationships, volunteering, recreation, hobbies, chores, and more – in balance each day only leads to frustration and burnout, no matter how hard you try. Meanwhile, all around you, the natural world moves in rhythms – from the seasons changing and the sun rising and setting to your heart beating and your lungs breathing.
What I have found to be true is that if you stop the futile effort of trying to live in balance and instead live in harmony with life’s natural rhythms, you’ll accomplish what matters most in life with way less stress and guilt. I’m excited to explore this with you today, and I hope it motivates you to find your own balance and rhythm in your current life season.
Getting Your Life in Balance and Rhythm
Get Off of the Balance Beam
It’s completely unrealistic to give proportionate effort to every dimension of your life every single day because life doesn’t stay the same every day. Life is dynamic, constantly changing, and to live well, you need to adapt to those changes. Trying to live a balanced life puts an impossible burden on you, and you’ll struggle to keep up with all the daily demands. No matter how hard you try, you’ll end up feeling frustrated that you’re not spending as much time with your spouse and kids as you should, not keeping up with your friendships enough, not meeting all your work deadlines, not maintaining your house and yard well, etc. So please, dear friend, free yourself from our culture’s pressure to live a balanced life. Our culture is duping you into thinking that is how successful people live …. that is just not true! Read more, and I think you’ll catch my drift.
Appreciate Life’s Natural Rhythms
There are right times for everything. Sometimes it’s time to work hard; sometimes it’s time to rest and recover. Sometimes it’s time to grieve; sometimes it’s time to celebrate. Certain days, weeks, and months are different from others, just as you go through different stages of life, from infancy to old age. Rather than trying to achieve the same balance regardless of what time it is for you, focus on one season at a time.
Pay Attention to Cycles and Seasons
The world is structured into five ongoing cycles (year, quarter, month, week, and day). In addition, you go through various seasons in your life that make it either the right or wrong time for certain activities … from the birth of a child and the death of a parent, to starting a new job and getting laid off. Rather than exhausting yourself trying to do everything in balance simultaneously, aim to do various activities in rhythm at different times.
Live In Sync with Your Current Life Stage
Live each day in sync, specifically in the present with what is appropriate and what is not for the life stage you’re in right now. How old are you? What’s your marital status? Do you have kids, and if so, what stage of life are they in? Have recent changes just affected your life in profound ways, from the diagnosis of a serious illness to a move or the start of a new job? Once you understand what distinct time of life you’re in right now, you can figure out how to live well within that stage. And then stay there, intentionally present at all times so as not to miss what there is to learn and grow through in that season.
Release Unrealistic Expectations
You can increase your peace by letting go of expectations that don’t fit your current rhythms. Rather than trying to live in a different season than the one you’re in – like single people who wish they were married or young people who wish they were older… trust that you are in this particular life stage right now for a good reason and decide to live fully while you’re in it. You’re right where you’re supposed to be for now, so make the most of it.
Build Life-Enhancing Rituals
Create healthy routines connected to some deeper meaning or significance and practice them regularly. Rituals can help you achieve your mission in every part of your life and renew you in the process. Come up with monthly rituals like visiting your grandparents every month, weekly rituals such as going to church each week, and daily rituals like exercising at a gym every day and eating dinner with your family each night. But stay flexible, always bearing in mind that your days will be different, so you may enjoy your rituals most days but not all days.
Oscillate Between Work and Rest
Sometimes it’s best to work hard; sometimes, it’s best to rest well. Be sure to give your full attention to whatever season you’re in. When it’s time to work, don’t get distracted by other things. When it’s time to rest, don’t let work projects interfere. When deciding when it’s best to either work or rest, be sure to keep in mind factors in your personality, such as whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert and whether you have the most energy in the morning or the evening. Think through the best flow of an ideal day for you. When would you like to wake up and go to sleep? When would you tackle your most difficult jobs? When would you renew yourself? Then consider the best days of the week to do various tasks, as well as the best times of each month and year for other activities, like scheduling a conference to work or vacation to rest. You can read more about time management here.
This is a new week, and a new year is coming so soon— a new beginning. What steps will you take today to start finding your balance and rhythm? I’d love to hear about it in a comment below…