The importance of balance

“ Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” Betsy Jacobson

We are a complicated bunch us women. I can understand why men find us so confusing. I sometimes find us confusing.  We want progress but we want time out. We want space, but we want connection. We want career, and we want family.  We want health, but we won’t make time.  We want wealth, but we want to shop.  We want friendship, but we are too busy to call. We want life to be simple, but we make it so complex.  Fascinating aren’t we?

How complicated we really are shone through when I was working with an Executive Coaching client.  Tamara walked in to our session in a lather of sweat as though she just finished a workout.  She was in a position at work that she had dreamt of and at an age most were realising they should get a ‘decent job’.  To others she was living the dream, but to her she was drowning, drowning with such elegance she could have been on a synchronized swimming team.  To others she appeared in control, she played netball with her friends, was on the innovation committee at work,  was studying for her Masters in Community Development and was well respected by her team.  To others she led a balanced life, but to her she was screaming for help.

It was when she was driving to work that morning she realised she hasn’t enjoyed playing netball all season, she hadn’t attended the social committee meeting for 4 months, her friends no longer asked her for Friday drinks, she would take work home and worked until she fell asleep and then woke at 5.30am to the sound of her alarm, exhausted.  Tamara recalled while staring at the car ahead of her it was like life stood still and she was stuck in a whirlwind.  She realised, things needed to change. Trying to be everything to everyone was no longer working for her.  This was her moment of choice.

If Tamara’s story sounds familiar, it is because her story is not unique.  With 55% of people not fulfilled at work, reported Depression rates higher than ever and according to NHRMC approximately 60% of Australians are now classified as overweight or obese, it seems the seeking balance conversation is not working.

Although Tamara’s story is common the ending isn’t.  Tamara did one thing that would separate her from many others; she looked at what she learnt in ‘her moment’ and did something about it.  She didn’t get stuck in overwhelm, she didn’t let procrastination win, she decided enough was enough, made the choice to change and stepped up.  

Life is pretty simple, we need food, water, shelter, and air to breathe.  If that is all we need to survive then why does life seem so complicated?  Our constant search for balance in our lives is leaving us feeling more frantic, more busy, and more out of control than ever.  Busy is not making us any happier or fulfilled.  So if balance isn’t working and busy isn’t working what is the answer?

Taking control of our choices.

In the 21st Century one thing we do not lack is choice.  We have shops that only stock door handles, acres of land with  cars, department stores with every type of clothing one could imagine, and if you can’t find what you are looking for jump online and you can be assured someone will have it somewhere.  Pizza toppings combinations, cocktails at the bar, colours to paint your toenails, options and choices everywhere.

Knowing how to make a choice and being OK that the choice you have made is what often stops people from moving forward in life.  In fact too much choice can paralyze people into inaction for fear of not making the right choice, the perfect choice, the best choice.

I know I suffer this when out dining.  The stress of looking at a menu at a restaurant and trying to make the perfect choice for fear the wrong decision might ruin the night.  Come on ladies, I know I am not alone here!  Anyone?

Writing goals, new year resolutions, bucket lists, strategic plans, missions statements, workplace management plans, these are all great to do to create a path, a framework for us to take action within.  But without action these are useless.  What is needed is a whole hearted commitment to implementation.  A list is easy to write, a plan is easy to pull together.  What is hard is getting up every morning and making the decision that today will be the day we go to the gym, speak up in the meeting, play with our kids, get the report finished, catch up with a friend, say I love you to our partner.  

When we are feeling overwhelmed, stuck, frantic, or just plain busy, speaking about simplifying our lives can feel annoying.  We all know we need less complication, to be more present and to plan our time better.  We all know this stuff.  So why is it so hard?Isn’t the whole point of simplifying life not having to do more?  It is because simplifying takes time and energy, two things we never seem to have enough of.  So I have made it simple for you.  Here are 6 steps to choosing to live the life you want.

1. Stop and take a breath  Get perspective.

2. Step back and review what’s going on– Be honest and specific.

3. Choose your attitude  Get excited about what’s next. 

4. Plan what’s next– Prioritise what’s important.

5. Stick with it– Put priorities into action.

6. Step up– Focus on getting results that matter. Back yourself and go for it.

When life seems too busy, too overwhelming, too out of control, the great news is there is we are just about to hit a break-through.  When a forehead hits the table,  eyes stare into space, a head is thrown back in despair, that is your moment.  Your moment to stop the chaos and get back to what is important to you.  Your moment to gain perspective, your moment to find simplicity, however that looks for you.  

It is your life. You choose.

 

Angela Lockwood

Angela Lockwood is an Occupational Therapist, mentor and corporate speaker who designs and delivers tailor made programs to private business and government organisations. Her programs assist organisations to make better business and strategic decisions through the simplification of processes and alignment of vision with action. Angela is the author of “The Power of Conscious Choice”, a book to help people make better decisions in work and life. Angela is the co-Director of Lockwood Consulting Pty Ltd and was CEO in not-for-profit organisation, Kidsafe. Angela hosts regular webinars and online programmes designed for individuals, business owners and corporate decision makers.

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