“It’s just gonna take me a while the right “balance,” or we hear, “Life is about striking a balance,” but i’ve just realised something. ‘Balance’ and I don’t really see eye to eye all the time. All my life i have been aiming for ‘balance’ and have probably been okay at it. I’ve found comfort in that Rumi quote about how “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” I guess you could say I have a good work/life balance. I look after myself but still love to ‘party’ and ‘let go’ when i can. I know what's important to me and i guard those things. That’s ‘being balanced’ and i’m sure there are some people that would look at me and say, “yea, she’s balanced enough.” But, today, right now in this stage of life when there are so many things to juggle; the idea of “balance” is quite elusive, puts pressure on me and feeds an underlying stress. So what i’m telling myself in the flurry of being mum to three kids, the packed lunches, the after school clubs (every weekday- bring on summer holidays), the business, the social media content, the working-out blah blah, is that maybe i’m not as balanced as i thought and maybe I’m okay with that?
The Myth of Balance
Basically what I’m proposing here, even if it's not very popular in this 'slow-living' movement is that maybe there is some freedom in “imbalance?” My husband did the Belfast Marathon three weeks after Espen. It probably wasn’t a good idea on paper, what with the training hours he had to put in during those early days and sleepless nights; the fact his parents were still here visiting (and he only sees them once every one- two years) and then of course, there’s the 26 odd mile event itself… who would call dehydration and complete full body fatigue a product of a “balanced” activity? I was so proud of Jon for completing it. He worked hard and he deserved to feel accomplished but to get there he had to go all in, in a very unbalanced manner.
Another example of something in my life that doesn’t seem like the most “balanced” of activities is feeding Espen (my newborn.) Yes, it’s as natural as can be but “balanced hmm??” He goes to from full to empty in a flash, my hunger levels are completely inconsistent, never mind the many hours i spend sitting as i watch the stuff in sink pile high and the mass of clothes that need put away, grow. It sucks the life out of me and is a sacrifice of my time but it’s good and i love it.
What if life is not about striving for balance but rather, being okay with ‘imbalance’ for a period of time (usually to achieve something worthwhile,) and then having the courage to ‘rest’ after? This means, trusting that the momentum you’ve worked hard to generate won’t disappear if you take a break. I recently listened to a podcast where a guy, Steve** ran a 4.01min/mile when he was 18 years old. He never beat his time and said he physically ‘peaked’ because of overtraining and ultimately didn’t have the wisdom or courage to ‘rest.’ He has spent his career helping others achieve peak performance without burnout. The formula he suggests is: Stress + Rest = Growth. I like that. The stress isn’t domestic related, not advocating psychological pressure here, but a season where we go hard at it, give it your all and then have the self- awareness to “rest.” Growth happens not when we’re pushing but when we’re resting. Imagine that!? I look forward to the mental break i’m gonna take from work and business this summer and i’m trusting that i’ve worked hard enough during the run up that things won’t go stagnant but might even continue to grow. I suppose it’s the ebb and flow thing and not giving into the fear that we have to keep things even-steven all the time!
A few weeks ago, a lovely friend emailed me. This is exactly what she said,
“How are you doing today? I've been thinking about you as the newness of life starts to bed in properly with Espen, the girls and the business etc. There's no balance that will work consistently, just what you think is the right decision or call at any given time. I hope you feel some freedom there.”
Wham Bam Thankyou Mam (and Mel!- i'm sending you random thoughts of love)
K, I’m done. Just some thoughts to kick off the summer. Maybe, like me, you can be too balanced for your own good at times, but here’s a reminder to know what’s important to you and not to miss moments of hardwork and imbalance for something cool or life-giving. Anyone got any examples of how embracing times of imbalance has been a good thing?
- A really cool article written by my muse Rich Roll about Working Hard and How we should stop Life-Hacking- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rich-roll/stop-life-hacking_b_5522006.html -
- **Listened to Steve Magness on Rich Roll Podcast. http://www.richroll.com/podcast/brad-stulberg-steve-magness/
- Steve Magness & Brad Stulberg Publication 2017- Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout and Thrive with the New Science of Success