As we approach the New Year, many people’s gaze turns towards how to go about making their life perfect. Of course, I am kidding. None of us would honestly say “I intend to make my life perfect in the New Year.” Though, secretly, I am pretty sure that is EXACTLY what we are REALLY saying. Pretty daunting task, that. And, likely, not an effective goal. So I will start this blog letting you off the hook or talking you off the ledge as the case may be: You are pretty darn awesome. You are enough just as you are in this moment. Loving yourself as you are RIGHT NOW gives you a far better chance of growing and expanding than disliking yourself does, so do that!
But I digress….
In my line of work I have asked many people what they want to manifest for the New Year, or in their life in general. Often the answer is a desire for balance. Sounds simple enough, right? But what does that mean? When pushed for details, most people will likely give you a result of a balanced life, a state of being resulting from balance. “I will be calm. My body will be pain free. My to-do list will be manageable. My family life will be harmonious and full of love.”
Beautiful sentiment, the above. And as a person fond of New Year’s affirmations (versus resolutions) I think those statements make for some fine ones. But they don’t speak to what balance in your life actually, nuts and bolts, looks like. They don’t give you any help in figuring out how to manifest that way of being.
What is balance, really?
Most of us have an intuitive idea about what the word means, so we don’t really look at it concretely. But it is a beautiful thing to think about.
Balance is a play between stability and flexibility/adaptivity. You must be grounded, but also free to shift your stance.
So clearly we need stability. I think most people focus on that aspect when they are thinking of balance in their life. We need a strong body. A healthy financial life. Good friends. A clean kitchen and a tidy lawn. We need to run half marathons and accomplish yoga poses. We need to manage our schedule. Pay our bills on time. Be ready to entertain at the drop of a hat. We need to have a system in place so that our life runs without a hitch. All powerful ways of being. But, what about the ability to be flexible? To adapt your stance? To gracefully navigate the things that go wrong, the days that explode in your face, the tragedies that naturally befall one? Can you scrap your to-do list when you notice that a nap would feel better? Can you be carefree? Can you choose yourself over your duty? Can you make a mistake, but not let it bring you to the ground?
Ah, that last one is important and it leads me to another thought. To “find balance” you must learn, when adjusting your stance, not to over or under correct. Man, it seems human nature to live in the extremes. And we don’t seem to care for patient growth. We want it all. We want it now. But picture a gymnast on a balance beam. It is rarely her swinging arms that keep her upright, but much more often an abundance of micro-corrections in her foot and ankle. Subtle. Lacking panic. Confident. Practiced. Ah...yes, practiced. Balance is a practice.
(Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Balance is also a play between masses, densities and tensions across a pivot point, a lever.
Picture the teeter totter here. Or a mobile. That might be a better metaphor for a life. I love mobiles and have for quite a long time. Glorious feats, they are. Requiring math, I’d imagine, but also a subtlety of touch to create the truly masterful ones, the ones that seem to defy gravity by adhering strictly to its principles.
So how might one go about making their own life mobile?
I would say:
First: Know what is important to you.
Second: Know the desired ratios of those things in your life. What is your ideal?
Third: Know the doable ratios of those things in your life as it stands NOW.
Fourth: Remember our earlier conversation on the nature of stability, flexibility and micro-correction. Balance is not rigid. Rigid things tend to snap.
What is important to you? This can be a tricky question for many. We’re continuously told what we should want. So much so that many of us have internalized ideas that are not true to ourselves. It takes some real reflection to get past that. What is important can also be confused with what is necessary. And accomplishing the necessary is definitely part of a balanced life. But most “necessary” things will, upon second thought, fit in a much broader, more powerful aspect of your life. Meeting your financial obligations, for example, could fit better under the category of having a career that you find satisfying with a company that respects your time and talents, and promotes a healthy corporate culture. Too much? Meeting your financial obligations could fall under the category of living simply, within your means, in a resourceful manner. Meeting your financial obligations isn’t really a lifestyle. But the other two are. They speak to core values and life goals.
Knowing your desired ratios and knowing your doable ratios is also quite tricky. I’ve created excel sheets and graphs trying to figure out how to jam everything I want to jam into my week, into my week. Falling into the trap of: When I live perfectly this is what it will look like. But here’s the thing...I am never going to “live perfectly.” Never. It is not my nature. I doubt it is anyone’s nature, but I know it isn’t mine. I want to eat pizza when there are salads in the fridge. Create art when I should be sleeping. Cuddle with my dogs when I should be vacuuming. But, if I know the most important things I can make commitments to them, right? When I have a solid understanding of how much of my life should be dedicated to those things, I can make better commitments to them. And commitments, eventually become habit; become the muscle memory that keeps the gymnast upright on the balance beam.
Now I’ve tied life up in a neat bow. But life isn’t as tidy as all that. If the above sounds interesting to you and you’d like to explore the process, I recommend joining me at the ‘Nest for our annual Epiphany Party*. We will play some fun games that will get you started and send you home with ways to keep the process going. I’ve also laid out programming for the coming year that will lend support to your journey.
Plus, it’s generally a heck of a good time.
All are welcome, only those who RSVP and pay $5 will receive the print materials. Bring a beverage of your choice to share! Learn more!