Balance Archives


This semester I decided to take a college art class. The class, along with other exciting opportunities, have added 20 hours of new tasks to my week. In the past, I would have given up sleep, self-care, and other things that were important to me to have that time. I would endure a sense of deprivation until my class ended. By the end, I’d be exhausted and burnt out.

Now, I’m doing it differently. When there’s a significant change to my schedule, I go through a process of rebalancing. I drop things from my schedule, then notice how it works and how I feel about it. I then adjust what isn’t working. I do this until I have a balance that feels healthy and vital.

Here’s some of the tools I use when I rebalance:

  • Getting the sleep I need.
  • Taking a day off each week.
  • Talking over my rebalancing process with supportive friends.
  • Reminding myself that I’m choosing my life, and that outside authorities aren’t.

Here are some things I’ve let go of as a result of my schedule change:

  • spending too much time on my computer
  • staying in conversation longer than I really want
  • micromanaging my husband
  • doing less-than-fulfilling activities

One of the things I realized as a result of shifting my schedule is that I had been doing too much cerebral work—learning, reading, working on the computer—and not enough hands-on activities. As I’m doing my art, I’m feeling much more balanced. This is seeping into the rest of my life. I’m more aware of what I’m doing in the moment, as if every activity is a piece of art.

Going through a rebalancing process gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and bring our lives more in alignment with who we truly are. When you have a significant increase in the demand on your time, do you endure it until it passes or do you embrace the opportunity to upgrade the quality of your day-to-day life?

Word of the Year—Boundaries

A couple years ago, I read about Christine Kane’s cool idea of picking one word for the year as a focus rather than a traditional New Year’s resolution.

For 2011, I picked “Blossom” because I wanted to blossom in my work and my presence in the world. For some reason, I rarely thought about the word after I picked it. Looking back, last year seemed more about boundaries than blossoming.

At the beginning of 2011, I was working at the Apple Store. I loved what I did there, but I learned something about myself. Being around people that much was draining. So I set a boundary by quitting the job. I became very conscious of how much people time worked well for me and made sure I had the alone time I needed, which was a lot at first.

After the Apple Store, I worked from home. This gave me my solitude. Except, when my husband had time off. Every seven years he gets an 8-week sabbatical. 2011 was that year. We spent the first half in Europe, which was a blast. The second half was spent mostly at home, the home I was used to having to myself all day.

I worked with my husband on having the space and time I needed while he was home. Then came out-of-town guests. I began coming up with ideas on how to get my solitude while having people in the house nearly constantly. I’m still figuring that one out.

I also created boundaries with my to-do list. In the past, I’d work on my to-do list until it was done or I ran out of time, sacrificing the things I really wanted to do and feeling like all my life was was one big to-do list. Now, I make sure that I spend no more than an hour, or two at the most, on to-do’s in a day. The rest is devoted to what I really want to do and what I think is really important.

Was I wrong in picking “Blossoming” as my word for 2011? No. It was what I wanted, but I wonder if the timing was off since I didn’t naturally revisit the word during the year.

Was it a good idea to review my year and look for a theme? Yes! Instead of being disappointed that I didn’t blossom the way I had hoped, it helped me appreciate what I actually did do.

Photo credit: Image: Tom Curtis /”>Tom Curtis /

Making Room

I realized one of the reasons I used to not be able to accomplish my goals was because I thought I was supposed to cram my goals in with the rest of my life. The idea of making room for my goals didn’t become clear to me until I took Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Life course. The messages I had gotten before that course were that I needed to be more efficient, that I could do more than I thought I could, and that I really didn’t need as much sleep as I thought.

So I’d try cramming in actions toward a goal. I’d eventually get tired of pushing, and I’d let go of the goal, not understand why I wasn’t able to stick with it. Other times, I would never even get around to taking any action toward a goal.

Now, I look at my schedule realistically, at least most of the time. When I decide I’m going to work on a goal, I look at what I can take out of my schedule to make room for it. When I first started doing this, I wasn’t sure what to let go of. Everything in my life seemed important. So I just started taking actions toward my goal and watched what things dropped out of my schedule from me not having time to get to them. This approach helped to clarify what was important to me. Most things I dropped were fine being dropped.

As time went on, I became clearer about my priorities and could schedule ahead what I would drop to make room for a current goal. I now check in periodically and ask myself if there’s anything I wish I had done toward a goal but haven’t. If there is, then I look back at my schedule and ask myself what I would have dropped to make room. Sometimes, I realize there’s nothing I wanted to drop. This brings me into reality about the pace I’m willing to work on that goal. Other times, I realize what I could have dropped and plan to drop it in the future.

Recently, I met a woman who grew up in Denmark during World War II. She lived in a rural area. During the Christmas season, they did the minimum amount of work possible on the farm. They made sure the animals had what they needed to survive, but dropped every task they could for the holiday season. This gave them time to enjoy their families and holiday activities.

It may sound silly, but I never thought of doing that during my holiday season. Instead, I tried cramming in the Christmas shopping and feeling resentful about “having” to do all these extra activities for the holidays. This Christmas season, I’m consciously looking at what activities I can pull out of my schedule to make room for holiday fun. This feels so much better!

Can’t Change It? Make the Most of It!

Today, I’m on a clear liquid diet to prepare for a medical exam tomorrow. Normally, I keep my blood sugar stable by eating plenty of fiber and making sure every time I eat, it’s a good balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. But today, I don’t have that choice. This clear liquid diet is throwing off my blood sugar enough to make me a space cadet.

I could try to make myself do my normal cerebral-heavy activities. I could keep thinking about those yummy foods I usually eat, but can’t. Or, I could take advantage of this and experience something I normally don’t.

I’m choosing the later. I’m planning activities today that don’t take much thinking power. It’s actually a nice change of pace since I tend to over-do the thinking aspect of my life. I’m choosing activities that are fun and exciting for me to do, too. They’re not anything super out of the ordinary, but they are things that are getting me enthused. This way I’m turning a day that could have been all about deprivation and frustration into something I’m excited about.

I’ve also dressed in a way that makes me feel fun.

Who knows. Maybe this will start a new pattern of having a better balance of thinking and non-thinking activities in my days.

So what ways do you make the most out of something you can’t change? I see a lot of parents do this for their kids. Do you do it for yourself?

 Page 5 of 7  « First  ... « 3  4  5  6  7 »