Ever since I quit my full time job I’ve learned a lot about work-life balance. I work a part-time job, write two blogs, attend Toastmasters, volunteer with my local animal shelter, take care of my pets, my husband, myself, and my home, and live my life. My current schedule is more flexible and yet often harder to find my happy balance.
My situation perfectly shows how balance isn’t the result of some magic number of hours worked versus number of hours at rest. You can’t plan or schedule balance. Balance itself is the result of interacting with each moment as this second flows into the next. Balance is paying attention to the things that matter most, when they matter most.
Photo via Kolette Hall
To keep physical balance you must engage any number of bones and muscles that constantly move, expand and contract; to keep a happy life balance you must engage your body, spirit, heart, and mind, continually adjusting and resting and taking action. There’s no formula for work-life balance, there’s no definitive how-to- balance is found moment to moment.
These past months I’ve learned some things about myself, and some things about finding my balance. I’m not truly happy when I’m not engaged, when I’m not tackling some exciting new challenge. I have more exhilaration and energy when I assign myself tasks and deadlines and work on them even if I think there’s something I’d rather do- like watch TV or compulsively check Facebook and Twitter. I thrive on activity- but not too much, of course!
I’m not truly happy when I’m overstimulated and overworked. I need at least 7 hours of sleep per night- 8 is even better! I have to take a break at least every 3-4 hours, and every day I need some quiet time to myself even when I think I have more important things to do or think I need to finish a task before I can rest. I’m an introvert and I need alone time to rejuvenate and replenish my energy levels.
Too much activity and I go kablooey, too little rest and I go kaflooey! My happy balance is somewhere between activity and rest- I need plenty of both, though they don’t have to be in equal measure. The hardest part in finding my balance is letting go of the “I shoulds” and “I’d rathers” and just live my life, moment-to-moment, day-to-day.
To find balance in the day-to-day I need to exercise my body, mind, and spirit, and spend quiet time in reflection and repose. All of these elements are necessary to stay balanced but the ratio of activity to rest may change each day.
To find balance I must work mindfully and make intentional choices about my day. I do this by deciding what kind of day I’m going to have, and how I’m going to respond, not react, to whatever happens in my day. I do this by minimizing distractions and focusing on the things that are important to me. I do this by listening to my body and my mind, making small adjustments as needed.
I love your comments! What does balance mean to you? How do you know when you’re unbalanced? How to do find balance in your day-to-day?