If trying to maintain balance in your life makes you sometimes feel like Terrifico, the Terrified Tightrope Walker in the Circus of Life, working without a net while the crowd below holds their breath in anticipation of a slip, you’re not alone. These days almost all of us have so many demands placed on our time and energy, life can feel like a three-ring circus. And if you’re not up there on the tightrope, you’re down on the ground in the midst of tigers and lions, in charge of keeping a couple of dozen plates spinning in air.
Maintaining balance isn’t easy. It requires holding steady with the many responsibilities that are a normal and everyday part of life: home, family, friends and work, while at the same time recognizing and fulfilling personal needs and wants. Finding and maintaining balance when life can be so complicated and demanding is both an inside and outside job.
Inside—only you can take care of yourself.
Consider how well you take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Do you eat healthfully and exercise regularly? Do you get check-ups and take preventative precautions? Do you set aside personal, quiet time for yourself? Do you make time to enjoy nature and art, filling yourself up again and again?
Outside—Reaching outside yourself gives meaning.
Think about how you reach outside yourself for sharing and giving meaning to your life. Do you spend quality time with family and friends? Do you give back to life through your time, energy and experience? Contributing to the larger world provides connection and purpose.
Balance—the key to a rich and fulfilling life.
To discover how well balanced your life is, keep a log of how you spend your time. In a little notebook you can carry with you, write down the hours you spend under the broad headings: “for me” and “for others.” Also make notes of requests for your time (from family members, from coworkers or professional obligations). Include “requests” from your physical and emotional self: “I wish I could take time to take a walk today.” Or “Gee, I’d love to take a nap.”
Also jot down your feelings about the time you’re putting in. Do you resent the responsibilities at home? Do you feel like you never get to do what you want to do? Do you rearrange your time, taking away from what you’d planned to do for yourself in order to do something for others? How does that feel? Honestly?
After a week or two, you can expect to have some pretty clear messages on where there is balance in your life and where there is not. You might also come to see what’s important to you and how you can make changes in your life that will create a life of health, well-being and joy—a balanced life.