Finding balance in a chaotic world

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But What is Balance Really?

Obviously, I feel that having life in balance is very important. It lowers your stress level and makes it easier to deal with the curveballs that life throws at you. I know that in my life since I started putting things in balance, stuff that would have been a huge deal (like a car repair) a few years ago is now just an annoyance that needs to be taken care of. I fully believe that balancing all of the aspects of your life leads you to being a happier and more content person. But what is balance really? Are we talking about a scale where everything is divided evenly? No. No it isn’t.

 

So what is it? Well first let’s talk about why balance is not about dividing things evenly across your life. The simple answer is that it is impossible to do and, more importantly, does not actually bring us closer to our goal. Let’s look at an example. There are 24 hours in a day. If we wanted to balance our day, we would sleep 8 hours (exactly), work for 8 hours (including commute), and have 8 hours of free time/errand time. I could never follow that schedule. First off I get up for work at 6am and don’t get home until 4pm. That is 10 hours right there dedicated to work. I’m typically asleep by 11pm and wake at 6 am so I’m only getting 7 hours of sleep. That leaves another 7 hours for free time and errands. Obviously that is not balanced in a strict sense of the word. If I had to shave off two hours from my work side to give to my sleep and free time side, I’d need to live closer to work and sleep in my clothes.

 

Ok, so what do I mean? Picture your typical scale. It has two dishes in it that whatever you wish to weigh is placed in. You put something in on the left side and then an equal weight of something on the right side and they balance. Now add a few more dishes in arms coming out like an octopus. Each of these arms is linked in the middle to the other arms. Now put different weights in each arm. Some arms have less and some more. Eventually, all of the arms come to a rest perfectly balanced but each dish is not equally proportioned. Some things are more important in our life (the heavier dishes) and others are less important (lighter dishes) yet all come together in equal balance.

 

So the trick is not dividing your constraints evenly, the trick is finding what proportion is best for you to stay in balance. Of course, everyone proportions are different so how do you go about discovering the right one for you? Here is a quick checklist:

 

1.       Start with the absolutes. There are only 24 hours in a day. Each month you earn $X dollars. You are needed at work from X to Y each day. These are things that cannot be easily changed and they act as your constraints.

2.       Think about your perfect life. What are the main aspects of that life? This shows you what is most important to you and therefore should be a heavier dish.

3.       Look at your day and see what things that can be changed are not getting you closer to your perfect life. Is your debt holding you back? Is there too much clutter in your house to make it a peaceful retreat? Are you never home because of all the activities you’re involved in?

4.       Look at what is holding you back in regards to the constraints that you have and start to make adjustments. Create a plan to pay off debt, find the clutter points in your house, determine which activities you enjoy the least.

5.       Implement your plan. It will be hard at first but after two-four weeks it should become a habit.

 

There, now you are on your way to true balance.