I was asked recently what it means for me to be balanced.
My response seemed to surprise the question-asker.
“I think being balanced ultimately means being happy,” I replied.
My question-asker looked at me with surprise. So I continued.
“Balance doesn’t look the same for everyone, and it’s a work in progress,” I said. Sometimes working a 60-hour work week will be your happy place. Other times you will need to work much less than that to feel in balance with all you want to accomplish and experience in your day-to-day.”
I also believe there are seasons for that perfect definition of balance, especially for us living in Canada with our seasonal climate.
There seems to be a common relaxation of the daily grind as summer hits in this county. We work hard during the winter – really hard – and come summer, it’s time to let the collective work ethic go a little (if we can) to enjoy what our surroundings, and probably our kids, have to offer.
Ultimately, balance to me means you are usually living the “hum” of a peaceful, connected existence where you feel calm and centred about your life choices.
Here are my 5 secrets to living a life of balance:
1. Practice gratitude
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – spending the first few minutes, or the last few minutes of your day being grateful for all that you have will help you keep your life in perspective.
What’s important to you? Where do you put your time?
Knowing what you are thankful for will go a long way to ensuring it shows up in your daily activity list. Because so often, those things we are most thankful for are the things (or people) we take for granted. Know what is most important to you, be thankful for those things and relationships, and make sure they show up in your daily or weekly routine.
2. Know what you want
So many people do not stop to reflect on what they want. They just push, push, push to get through the endless “to do” list of their day.
If you were to stop and look at how you were spending your time, would it reflect how you really want to be spending it? Do you even know what it would mean to be “more balanced?”
Many people don’t because we are just too busy to even have the time to stop and say — “this is good.” So, I recommend carving out some time for reflection so you can determine what balance might look like for you.
And even then it can be hard to know our own selves. I found having a coach work with me to help me sort out what balance looked like for me was really useful and went a long way towards helping me define that for myself. Having someone else hold up a mirrored reflection of you can help you see yourself in a whole new way.
3. Honour your values
Honouring your values goes beyond knowing what you want – it’s the next level down in the sense that your values are the “why” under the “what” you really want.
Why do you feel out of sorts?
Why are you craving time with family or friends?
Why do you wish you had more time for fun?
Knowing what you value will help you determine what balance looks like for you. You can start by making a list of what you know you value.
My values include things like authentic relationships, being appreciated, showing appreciation to others and connecting with family and friends on a regular basis. What do yours include?
4. Make time for what’s most important to you
Now that you know what you value and why, make sure you make time for it.
Perhaps you don’t need all of your values to show up every day, or even every week. How often do you need what’s important to you to be in your life on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis?
For example, if you have decided that you’d like to make more time for friendships, when are you going to make that happen? Are you prioritizing what’s urgent over what’s important?
We all have the same number of hours in our days and days in our week. Be sure to honour yourself and make time for what’s most important to you.
5. Know that balance doesn’t necessarily mean happiness
Ok, so this is the paradox of my definition of balance. I often say that I just want people to “be happy.”
But why? Why should my wish be for you to be happy? What I really want is for your heart to be at peace. Do you know what that means for you?
Because unfortunately, living a life of balance and on purpose doesn’t necessarily mean we will be happy all the time. What it does mean is that we are striving to make life decisions that bring contentment and a deep joy; heart-centred choices that honour ourselves as well as others.
When was the last time you put yourself first? Sometimes we think that means it has to be a spa day or going shopping for ourselves. But perhaps it’s as simple as having your daughter ride her bike to swimming instead of you driving her all the time.
Perhaps it means you order out one night a week to give yourself a break from making dinner. Often it means creating space for ourselves, so we can hear our own voice in the craziness of our daily lives.
Whatever it means, it means honouring you and what you need in your life. Because if you don’t honour yourself, it will be hard for you to truly honour others as well.
I’d love to hear what your definition of balance is and your tips for living a balanced lifestyle. Write them in the comments below. Heck – call me on the fact I told you being balanced means being happy and then I changed it – right in this article.
It just goes to show the more we understand what our words mean, the more layers of truth will be revealed.