This is a loaded question as balance is in the eye of the beholder. The approach to health and wellness coaching that I practice and indeed advocate is predicated on each individual finding a balance that works for them.
Oftentimes that balance is achieved through the development of an area in our lives that has been diminished or neglected due to:
- Pursuit of development in other areas of life (e.g., career, family, finances, relationships) with such vigor and dedication that we tend to lose sight of other things that need our attention.
- Events beyond our ability to cope. Life gives us experiences that are beyond our experience (e.g., death of a loved one, illness, divorce, job loss) and in our scrambling to adapt these changes, we neglect ourselves and our own needs. If our needs are not met then we feel out of balance.
- Isolation or a feeling of not belonging. We are tribal beings. We tend to learn and adapt better to life when we have the encouragement and collective knowledge of a supportive community. A community that shares and respects our beliefs and values.
As beings with a lifetime of experiences, successful and less than successful, we have at our disposal the ability to draw upon our experiences and redesign a better balanced life. We can apply our unique skills and experiences in ways that help us to reach our vision of a balanced life.
I believe the first step in the process of gaining balance is taking a good inventory of our lives. This inventory helps us to see what we need and do not need. We need to let go of what we do not need. Ask yourselves the following questions:
- Is what I am doing or what I am hanging on to going to make my life better in the future?
- Am I hanging on to something because I fear the void that will be created by letting go of it? Is “the devil I know” really better than taking a risk?
- Does what I am holding on to still serve a reasonable purpose in my life?
- If I really want to change and grow, what am I willing to say goodbye to? And what do I want to embrace for a more balanced and fulfilling future?
- Do I have faith in my abilities to change and grow and if not, then is this the reason I stay stuck where I am?
In the search for balance, sometimes we need to build something new in our lives. Letting go clears the space to build something new.
Remember your dreams?
The second step in finding balance might be looking back at our lives and revisiting the dreams for ourselves that we had along the way. Ask yourself:
- Are they dreams that I still have?
- What things do they awaken in me that have been asleep?
- What values do they speak to that may have been suppressed while I have handled the curve balls that life has thrown my way?
These are important questions to ask ourselves because we all have a unique set of values that define who we truly are. When we suppress or ignore what we hold dear, we tend to feel compromised and unbalanced. Our values are the legs that hold us up as we walk through this world. If we do not exercise them, they waste away and we end up limping through life.
Create your vision
I suggest the next step might be to create a vision of how we see ourselves in an ideal, balanced future. Once envisioned, ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I be doing?
- Where would I be doing it?
- Who will be involved in my life?
- What will I need to bring with me?
- Most important, ask yourself why this future is important to you and how does it fulfill you.
Go for it!
After all of this discovery about ourselves, the final step would be to take action. People often thing of balance as a static thing where the scale no longer moves up and down. If this were only true! Balance is more like walking a tight rope. Life changes, we change, and our resources for maintaining balance change, therefore we must adapt and change. It is a dynamic rather than static process and it takes time.
We must take action to keep moving forward towards a vision of a balanced and fulfilling life. We need to have courage to take a chance on ourselves. We need to know ourselves to take those calculated risks. We need to find others to encourage us as well as hold us accountable along the way. I believe that this is the best way to find balance.