Have you ever received advice suggesting that you should “find balance”?
Many of us hear this and assume that we need to devote equal time and energy to all efforts and commitments.
That we shouldn’t devote too much of our time or energy to any single pursuit.
What if I suggested that this advice might be exactly what’s holding you back from living your healthiest, happiest life?
What if I suggested that you forget about “balance”, or at least reconsider what it means to you?
What if I offered an alternative to better help you squeeze the juice out of life?
The fact of the matter is, we’ve all got different values, and we prioritize our efforts according to these values.
We’ve got friends.
We’ve got families.
We’ve got hobbies.
We’ve got clubs and organizations.
Oh, and we’ve got ourselves – our mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
All of these require our time and energy, which are finite resources.
Is it reasonable to think that every single one of us is going to allocate our time and energy to each of these efforts in the same manner?
Would a person who values their personal relationships above their physical health be expected to spend as much time in the gym as somebody with the opposite values?
Would a person who values their family above their career be expected to spend as much time at the office as somebody who has no family, and is driven by a passion for their profession?
Seems to me that living one’s life according to another person’s values would be a pretty miserable time.
You’ve only got a short bit of time on this rock, and it would be a shame to spend that time pursuing the efforts that don’t align with your values.
Thus, the first concept we can use as we shift our focus away from “balance” is “alignment”.
Assess how you’re spending your time, money, and energy, and ask yourself if your efforts align with your values.
Do your priorities reflect your values?
That is, are you putting the things that matter to you most ahead of the things that don’t matter to you at all?
Do your efforts align with your priorities?
That is, are you actually living in a way such that the things that matter to you most are getting the most time and energy, and those things that don’t matter are getting less?
After considering how your efforts and priorities align with your values, you might consider how your priorities might change over time.
Let’s imagine, or not, for a minute, that you’ve been prioritizing your family, friends, and careers over your health for years.
One day, you realize that just how much you do value your health, even if you haven’t been making it a priority.
You decide you need a change.
At this point, you might seek “agility” – the ability to restructure your priorities – to realign your efforts as your values shift.
You might even, for a period of time, place your physical health a bit higher on the priority list than it normally would be in an effort to build momentum and reach your goals faster.
Upon reaching your goals, you might reprioritize again to a baseline alignment that better reflects your values, where you’re looking to maintain, but not necessarily improve, your physical health.
Again, this doesn’t only apply to health and fitness, but to any effort in life.
Maybe you’d like to start a business.
Maybe you’d like to find a significant other.
Maybe you’d like to go after a promotion.
Maybe one of your commitments ends up calling for more of your time and effort than it normally would for no fault of your own.
Any of these situations will call for the agility to reprioritize, and might call for a period of time in which your life resembles anything but what is typically thought of as “balance”.
Moving forward, you might ask yourself…
“What are my values?”
“What are my priorities?”
“How do my efforts align with my values and priorities?”
Remember, there is no right answer but your own and there is no wrong answer but somebody else’s.
Seek not balance, but alignment and agility.
Seek a life in alignment with your values, nobody else’s.
Seek to be agile enough to respond as your values shift or as opportunities present themselves.
Life is far too short to pursue “balance”.
Until next time, have a most excellent week!