Balance Is Not A Bicycle

Work-life balance. We all want it. We want time to play in between deadlines and meetings. Time to shine, to be more in-tune, to be friends, lovers, mothers, daughters, wonderwomen, and sometimes even absolute sloths. So we diligently download work-life balance pie-charts, chop our lives into little segments, and try to squeeze ourselves into this perfectly balanced life we think we should be leading.

But we’re not machines. Life isn’t a pie. And balance is not a bicycle.

You see, when you get a bicycle, that’s it – you’ve got it. But balance isn’t anything like that. It’s not something you ‘get’, it’s not something you can tick off a list and yell ‘Got it!’ Because things are always shifting, changing, rising and falling, rushing and lulling, balance is not something we get to keep. It’s something we get to keep working at.

So forget about trying to be the perfect everything. Make some simple rules. And then break them. A little like this …

Always get some time-out
Make a rule that you never, ever, ever, ever, ever work on weekends. Then protect that time-out like a lioness. Of course that rule goes out the window when you’re on a film set, or a project goes into overdrive, or an urgent brief flutters through your window on a Friday evening. But don’t sulk, or mope, or moan, or beat yourself up about it. Roll with it. And promise yourself an über lazy weekend next week. Or better yet, a longer one.

Pick the one thing you can’t do without and do it every single day
What keeps you sane? That one thing that changes your whole day when you do it and destroys it when you don’t? Half an hour with a good book? A long walk, a meditation, a mad session at the gym, cuddles with your kids? Whatever that one thing is, vehemently schedule it into your daily routine. When the rush comes in and crazy life takes over all your good intentions like a weed on roids, roll with it. There will be a lull again. Eventually. And when it comes, jump straight back into that-one-thing-you-just-can’t-do-without…and do it with both feet.

Work your top 3 like a boss
Instead of trying to squish in a little bit of everything like a pie-chart, pick the top 3 areas of your life that you want to work on and throw them into your working day. It could be hitting the gym before work, feeding your brain new information over lunch, or hanging out with your favourite people at the end of the day. When you suddenly find yourself working 21-hour days, when you’re so busy you’ve forgotten your own name, when your top 3 are distant memories, roll with it. When you hit the eye of the storm (because every storm has an eye), pull your top 3 back to the fore.

And then there’s the rule to break all rules…

Indulge your whims … now
Suddenly thinking of a friend? Call her. Feel like a romantic getaway? Book it. Dying to see that new show? Go. Those little urges that tell us to learn something new, go somewhere beautiful, do something fun, are messages from our inner selves that we’re missing out on something. This is when you get to break your built-in rule about being a slave to your dream every waking hour. Roll with it. Drop your pen/ pencil/ typewriter/ keyboard/ crayon, and go where the whim takes you. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to pedal your way off an all-too-often one-sided path.

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