We often talk about balance as if it’s the highest achievable goal, as if our life should be focused on maintaining this perfect sense balance. A lot of times, we even tell ourselves that if we lose balance, we will trip and fall and never be able to get back up again. We invest our time, energy and love into so many different aspects of our lives: career, family, health, relationships, (and God forbid even fun and adventure sometimes!), and we’re told we can “do it all” as long as we keep everything balanced. Balance work life and home life. Balance caring for others and caring for yourself. Balance being a mother, a daughter, a manager, a coach, a partner, and a friend.
This concept of balance is intended to set us free, to give us a way to incorporate all of these important things into one life, giving everything a perfectly allotted amount of space. But in reality, balance can often feel burdensome and intimidating. For most of us, balance is not possible when life happens. We know that the world does not operate with a sense of balance. Responsibilities don’t flow equally, and things can fall out of whack pretty quickly.
So I have an idea to propose… hear me out! What if we stopped holding ourselves to this impossible standard of constant balance, and rather aspired to a sense of harmony?
Harmony is much more fluid, unlike a fixed state of balance. Harmony is a process. It is dynamic, and it can ebb and flow. Harmony requires intentionality and prioritizing. We have to identify what is important to us and the role that we want certain things to take in our lives, and then we need to prioritize those things when shaping our calendars and spending our energy. When things fall out of balance, we can use our intentions and priorities to continue working toward a sense of harmony. We can trust that if we commit to harmony, things can even out even when they aren’t always perfectly balanced. Harmony allows us to be gentle with ourselves, knowing that even if we trip, we can still find our footing.
I have a very detailed schedule. But I know that some weeks are going to require different things from me. So, I have a detailed model schedule that hangs in the background. It’s important, but it’s not written in stone. When things come up, I shift that model schedule around, but I make sure that if I have to move something in one space, I find it again somewhere else. That’s harmony. For example, I have a hard rule to only spend one night per week away from my family. But sometimes, when I am traveling, that is nearly impossible to do because of flights. If I have to fly and be away from my family for more than one night, I lose a sense of balance. However, when that happens, I immediately schedule an additional chunk of family time into my calendar as soon after the trip as possible. This is how I work on creating a sense of harmony. My intention is to spend a certain amount of time with my family, so when things get thrown off, I prioritize family time in the next week and make more space for it. So, for those couple of days things are not in balance, but overall, things are still in harmony.
I’ve found this idea to be a much more realistic way to look at my time. It allows me to pursue my purpose without feeling a sense of failure every time balance escapes me. This constant process of seeking equilibrium, knowing that in real life things don’t happen how we plan minute for minute in our calendars, is what harmony is all about.