Nearly every week, I come across something that tells me the latest and greatest trick to having a balanced life.
“Work out first thing in the morning!”
“Prepare all your meals for a week!”
“Clean for just 15 minutes a day!”
“Work-life balance, working mom balance, balance, BALANCE, BALANCE!”
One time, when I was younger and still thought I would rule the universe while feeding my kids home-cooked, zero processed meals, I actually graphed out my day, how much time things took, estimating how much I could accomplish every week.
Every waking moment was allotted for, each different responsibility receiving a different color on my graph. I had meals and workouts, playtime and date night.
It was a lovely rainbow of planning perfection.
It was oh so impossible.
I think I made it two days of following the schedule, snapping at my kids when they weren’t on time, because the colored block said so, and completely fatigued because I had zero downtime.
At a different point in my life, I might have considered this to be a failure. Then, I probably did.
But now? Now, I remember what is involved in creating balance in the first place.
If you go back to your days in elementary school, you can probably remember a time when you’d play with a scale. At my school, we had different colored cubes, and each on weighed a different amount. We’d have to put so many white ones on, and then figure out how many blue went on the other side to get it to look even.
There were a few techniques in this. The first is to put on one blue block at a time, watching as the equality got closer and closer. Another was to guesstimate how many blue blocks would be necessary. The observant kids might have even realized there were numbers on the colored blocks and used their mad math skills to get the initial effort pretty close. Then, there were the kids to put all the blue blocks on, looked at the white hanging precariously above on the other side, and started, slowly, to even out the weight distribution.
But before we were in elementary, such a process was still in place, often balancing money and produce. The complications that occur when discrepancies are down to grains of rice meant that finding actual agreeable balance often meant undershooting and overshooting the estimation several times.
We need to give ourselves the same opportunity. There are going to be times when we have to give a little more than we thought we would, when an anticipated effort may come up short. But there is a necessary process of imbalance that deserves attention. And negotiating those different distributions of weight (and sometimes it is weight) is necessary if we are to get anywhere close to the value we want from our life.