I talked about it this week with the people who subscribe to the newsletter (the organizational conversations that come in our family emails every Monday morning) and I promised that I would bring this topic to the blog later this month, to give ideas more practical and deepen our discussion. A promise made is a promise kept, ladies and gentleman, and I’m here to deliver what I promised.
This topic is absurdly important, incredibly vast and I promise (try) to be concise.
I asked Instagram followers a few weeks ago what they wanted me to cover during my 30 Day Lives project. This idea, as the name implies, is centered on the premise that I will appear every day, for a month, to deliver some small reflection, tip or question about this world of organization and productivity on Instagram. Many cool ideas came up, I wrote them all down and it didn’t take long for me to see a pattern (somewhat disturbing) emerge in the midst of those questions: people really believe, to a greater or lesser degree, that it is possible to create a millimetrically balanced and perfect life .
I’m going to give you a moment of silence to really think and absorb that last sentence.
Read it again and take another minute to think about your own beliefs. In the midst of this 21st century madness, full of Facebook posts, blog articles and amazing tips on how to have the best life in the world, did you end up letting in the notion that you should be doing a little of everything? Do you feel bad when you do the wheel of life exercise and realize that your life is completely out of step, with bad balance and badly distributed projects? Is there any part of you that thinks that if you were a little smarter, smarter, or more graceful, your time could be split evenly between your personal life and your professional life? And then you would finally be able to achieve that healthy and fair living balance that everyone wants to have?
I think you already felt where I want to go with this story, right.
If you also hold that kind of belief, this text is for you. And I know I might not even need to stress this in all the words, but reinforcing the important ideas never hurts, so allow me to be redundant and tell you: life doesn’t happen that way. The very word balance, no matter how well-intentioned it may have a background, can confuse us and refer us to an image of something eternally suspended and forever equivalent. Life is more confusing and erratic than that.
And we need to approach this topic in a much more realistic and down-to-earth way.
Your life is not balanced: it is mixed
An obvious phrase, I know, but we need to start from the most important point of all: awareness. Hard and cold, practical and internal. We need to change the focus of our words because, as you know, the way we talk about things and the ways we verbalize our thoughts shape and affect (a lot) the way we deal with these same things . Trying to strike a balance, as many texts, videos and people suggest, is admitting in advance that every part of your life needs to be balanced with something else. And this is not always the case.
Sometimes you want to be fully dedicated to the work. And? Sometimes you have to, too.
It’s not always a matter of choice. None of this is to say, be aware, that you cannot strive to have a varied and creative life made up of many different types of projects. Of course you can. But, again, I bring reality to the table and remind you that your daily life will not always be absolutely ideal, utopian and perfect. In some days you will need to work harder, put out fires and respond to the demands of others. On other days you will need to take care of a friend, spend more time with your mother, father, son or daughter, and make time in your schedule to take care of a health emergency that has come up with someone. On certain days, however, you’ll just be lounging or sprawled on the couch, watching TV and staring at the ceiling. And everything is fine.
Life is not a mathematical equation that needs to have a straight, round, and constant result.
Life is the sum of many parts. An eternal roller coaster and an eternal symbol of the yin-yang: with moments of work within your personal life and moments of leisure within your work.
A problem as old as the Sun is that many people are still trying to do it all. Crazy, right?
But when we sit down to plan our day or our week, more often than you would intuit, we overestimate the amount of things we can do at the same time. I will take care of my children perfectly well, play with them a lot, teach them lots of cool things, go to the gym four or five times a week, cook all my meals at home with as much healthy food as possible, go to the market twice a week, I’ll make time to date, get laid, and hang out with friends whenever I want, and I’ll still get a 10 in all my college classes, get that promotion at work, and sleep 8 hours a night every day.
In what world is it possible to have the perfect life? Definitely not here, honey.
We need to have clear priorities and build an image, as detailed as possible, of what is the next level of progress we want to have this year, this month or this week. What part of your life, however small, can you improve today? What kind of advancement do you want to make this month? And this year? Deciding what your current priorities are is essential to really making progress and eventually building a wave of achievements that will result in a steadily better life.
If you are in doubt or struggling to choose a small handful of subjects to focus on, I recommend that you read the following texts here on the blog: 9 concepts and 6 exercises to decide what to do with your life + an exercise to decide your goals for the year + 4 steps to create a project that is actually put into action . All of them, to some extent, will help you clarify what you really want and go after it for real, with a bit more firmness and motivation.
Imagine each 24-hour period like a race and the things you do during the day are your friends’ hands that you need to touch – like that child’s play, you know? Until the day is over, you need to do at least one thing, however small, related to each of your big priorities. What are the really important and relevant parts of your life right now ?
Mid-term planning aside, focusing on how you live your days is a terribly simple and profoundly transformative exercise that can, by itself, help you understand what kind of mix and composition you want and/ or need to have in your life right now. That could change a month from now or a day from now. Disasters happen, political events happen, good surprises happen too. Life is cyclical and part of your job is always to keep your ears open to change the course of your actions when some event, internal or external, moves you.
On the one hand, this is laborious, yes. A bit.
But on the other hand, you are the only person responsible for running your own life. Until your day is over, what are the phases of your existence and your environment that will receive some of your energy? You may decide that every day, in one way or another, you are going to give your family caring, caring time. In whatever way you can, in whatever way you can. If your child is one of your priorities, you will make time for him/her. If you really want to take better care of your health and rest, every day will be showered with at least one act of self-care.
And what part of your life do they relate to? Will they take care of your professional life, your health, your leisure, your social life or your spirituality? We can’t suddenly have the perfect and totally balanced life, just like in our dreams, but we can, yes, decide what we’re going to do throughout our day. And this is the maximum luxury and power we need to have.
Hello, I’m Rachel Collins. Until recently, I ran my own patchwork quilt business. Having retired from that I have turned my e-commerce site into this blog where I discuss business, home and garden and lifestyle topics for you to enjoy...Click to read on