For many people, January is a time to regain equilibrium. The Holidays are over, the decorations are packed up for next year (well, mostly), and it is time to get back to normal. As much as I love all of the activity during December and the New Year, it is very hard to stay balanced and focused during weeks of excitement and special events. I think that is why one of the main resolutions for many of my clients in the new year is to find a way to balance all the different aspects of life. That is why I will be exploring ways to create that ideal balance during the month of January.
When starting a new project or goal, many people find it helpful to visualize that goal. That is why so many people create vision boards at the beginning of the year. For me, it is helpful to visualize what balance looks like. Of course, balance looks different to each person since everyone defines it differently. Some people think of an old-fashioned scale when they consider what balance looks like. I think that may be the most common way to visualize a life in balance.
Other people may look at balance as a circle. This is very common in the coaching world. The circle is divided into eight or ten sections, with each section representing a different aspect of a person’s life. The next step is to determine the level of satisfaction in each area, usually assigning a number from one to ten. If the numbers are similar in each area, then you will have a balanced circle–one that can roll like a wheel. If not, that circle may resemble a rather flat tire, which can make it rather difficult to roll smoothly through life. As you may guess, most people’s circles look more oblong than circular, which makes for a very bumpy ride.
I have a different way of visualizing balance in life. I relate balance in life to a body in motion. There are three main aspects to a person’s balance. The first, and most important is the sense of self. This is a person’s core, or body, where his or her values and beliefs are housed. These values are part of what make each of unique. We use these beliefs as a road map to help us determine and navigate where we really want to go in this life. This is the essence of what each of us is as a person, and it is the part of us that grows and hopefully develops as we make our way through the world.
The second and third parts of my image are pretty simple. They are the personal and profession sides of our lives. Each of these sides is represented by a leg, supporting our body of core beliefs. These are the legs that help us get where we want to go. Some people focus almost exclusively on one of these sections, neglecting the other two. The result is a life that stays pretty much in one place, not getting very far.
When you look at life in this way–a body supported by two legs–the image becomes rather clear. In order to move forward, or feel balanced, it is best to have legs of roughly even and equal length. It makes for an easier walk. If you focus too much on your professional life and let your home or personal life suffer, you will start to limp. If you let your personal life overwhelm your professional responsibilities, the same limp will happen. If there is too much difference in the length of the legs, you may end up walking in circles.
Of course, there are times when you have to focus on one leg more than the other. I consider that hopping. You can do it for short periods, but too long will leave you winded and exhausted. Maintaining an even gait is a much easier way to create a balanced and satisfying lifestyle.
Over the next month, I will explore ways to create that ideal balance between home life and work life. That elusive balance which nurtures personal satisfaction and contentment.
I hope you will join me.