The Never-Ending Pursuit of Balance
There are so many different areas in life competing for our time and energy: careers, children, family, physical and mental health, relationships, communities, hobbies… How can anyone actually find the perfect life balance?
Balance is something that is really important to me both physically and metaphorically. As a dancer, I often have moments of insight and self-discovery through movement which relate to other areas of my life. Balance has been a big one.
A couple years ago while performing with a local dance company, I had a moment of discovery about the nature of balance. I was struggling with a particular move where I had to balance on one foot for an extended period of time in stillness. I was struggling to find that perfect stationary balancing point without the wobbly adjustments. Even on the days when I did find my balance and was able to steadily stand on one foot, I could still feel the constant movement within my standing leg. Bones, tendons and muscles were moving back and forth in minuscule movements; subtle shifting of my weight from one side of my foot to the other. I was never able to achieve a static point of balance – I was only able to find balance within movement. What I came to realize is that balance is never static.
Balance is an Action.
So how do I apply this to life?
As a mother of three, with a couple careers and several passionate hobbies I find myself searching for that perfect balance – that magical way to make room for all of the wonderful things in life. Well, it turns out there is never a perfectly static point of balance in life (if I’m wrong and you have discovered it please let me know).
If you can’t find a perfectly fixed balancing point in life, at least you can find a state of active balance where you are constantly shifting your time and energy into meaningful areas of your life to create an overarching balance.
When I find myself at a point in life where I feel out of balance, I try to take some time to connect with my values – identifying what is important is the first step in determining how to divide your time and energy. I also try to remind myself that life comes in seasons – during some seasons you have to give more time and energy to certain things which means temporarily sacrificing other things. Balancing all the different areas of life will require constant shifts and adjustments (along with a whole lot of self-reflection and self-awareness).
Working towards active balance and connecting to your values is really important work. If you give one side of your life (or foot) too much attention you run the risk of losing your balance and actually falling over. If you do fall over, it will take more effort to get back on your feet (believe me, I’ve done it both metaphorically and physically). So if you can’t give huge amounts of time to one area in your life at the moment, find ways to create small shifts. And recognize that the next season of life you can commit more time and energy to balance things out.
Making those shifts in your life may require changing how you spend your time and therefore changing your behavior. The science of behavior consistently demonstrates the importance of small, consistent steps. Behavior change rarely occurs overnight. It is usually a process of baby steps (shaping). If you want to make a change, try to choose one small thing to do today to lean into the areas that needs more attention. Committing to action is the way to creating change and a critical part to pursuing a healthy life balance.
I probably will never figure out how to find perfect balance on my feet or in my life; but I can commit to pursuing active balance and shifting when needed. It is a never-ending pursuit which requires constant attention and action. Perhaps life is simply a journey of continual action and shifting movement (i.e., a dance!).