When you imagine your life as being balanced, what images come to mind?
The first thing I think of is routine and similarity. I am a creature of habit, so my go-to perfect image is sameness. But sameness can lead being in ruts, and that really leads to imbalance, doesn’t it?
For instance, when I run, I tend to run the same route, the same distance, mostly the same speed each day. I feel satisfied when I have finished and I don’t have to think too hard about what I need to do. It’s easy to do the same run every day.
But honestly, I’m doing my body a disservice by not changing things up – working on speed one day, or strength and weight training another day and maybe a different cardio workout besides running. I should know by how sore I get when I am forced by weather or circumstances to do a different workout! And I vow then that I will do that regularly, but then I slip back into my routine of sameness.
In marathon training, the workouts are mapped out so that every day is not the same workout, but you know which days are running days, weight training days, cross training, etc. So for instance, I always knew that Wednesdays were weight days and Fridays were rest days. There was comfort in that routine, yet still the opportunity to grow stronger and healthier.
Why don’t I approach other things in my life the same way?
BALANCE is one of my three focus words this year (read more here) and I think it chose me for a reason. But what I am discovering is that the word seems to be playing itself out differently than I anticipated.
I realized that I have found myself increasingly frustrated lately because I’ve been trying to force my life into a same-thing-every-day routine. I need to think in terms of a “training schedule” instead.
Instead of trying to accomplish the same things each day, and then not feeling like I can squeeze in another thing, I need to learn to work within the ebb and flow of the week.
Let me give you an example. I work for a nonprofit that provides help for families in need in our community. My responsibilities include managing the database for the clients and the help they receive as well as handling the database of our donors and volunteers. On top of that, I also have a number of other administrative duties.
What I find is that during busy times, staying on top of the client database seems to take most of my time, making it challenging to also balance my other responsibilities. But what if I structure my week differently? What if one day or part of a day was specifically planned for the donor database and another for ordering supplies or other administration? My energy and focus would be fresh, I could stay on top of those things and still have time for the client entries later. None of this will ever be “caught up,” so it really is an exercise in managing. I need to manage myself differently.
Same with things in my personal life. I always say I need to connect more with friends or read more, yet I never get around to it. I need to set aside a particular day or time to focus on those activities. I’ll never be balanced otherwise.
If I’m not intentional in making time for these activities, they won’t just happen. Because it’s way too easy to just do the same run every day.
How do you need to schedule your life differently for more balance?