Okay, let's say I want to be a great mom - be there for my kids, take them to all their extracurricular events, help them with their homework, cook healthy meals, volunteer in their classrooms, and have frequent play dates at our house.
I also want to be an outstanding employee - going to community events, getting the company's name out to potential clients, bringing in new clients, and being recognized at the office for my performance.
But maybe I also want to be a supportive wife - always ready to talk, an encourager, ask appropriate questions, not nag, and be there when he needs me. I also want to keep a clean house including dishes and laundry checked off my list.
In addition I want to go have weekly girl time, build friendships with moms at the kid's schools, be up to date on the latest movies and books, knowledgeable about world news, as well as volunteer my time to local charities.
And of course, I want to continue to grow more knowledgeable of the Bible by reading daily, going to church, and attending Bible Studies. Included on the list is to finish three books I am ready to write. Did I mention exercise and to be in tip top shape?
Can we really do all that? How can I do all that and not get stressed out, feel like I'm a failure if I can't do each goal well, stay connected with my kids, and not want to give on becoming a better person? I know I do want to do it at all and ideally I would like to be all that at the SAME time. So if I had a balanced life, would I be able to do it all?
I turned to the Internet to see what it had to say on the subject. I found several websites on that very issue of living a balanced lifestyle. It seems a balanced lifestyle is the destiny many pursue. Some of the sites said cut TV out of your life others said get your life and your clutter organized before you begin. On the top listed site and on it's first page on http://www.balancelifecenter.com/, the author comments:
Wow, so what is wrong with that advice? Mister, get a clue. There is no need to be super human while going through a divorce. Eh hem. It's okay to take a break and focus on what is failing - maybe his marriage. All I'm saying here is something is got to suffer if we are going to do it ALL.
Do First Things First- Last year, in addition to my 40-hour week job, I served as Board President, completed speeches toward my Toastmaster’s Competent communicator award, and published over 100 articles on this site. All while going through a divorce.
So, I stopped to think, what does it really mean to have a balanced lifestyle? My thought is that every aspect in our life is done equally well (or poorly for that matter).
Michael Phelps has a rigorous workout routine. In one web site, it sites that Michael sets goals for himself. (a bit dated site)
Our eyes are on one medium and one long-range goal: World Championships in July in Barcelona and 2004 Olympic Trials and Games.To get ready for that, we have concocted a training program that began with a fairly high-mileage fall, a 7080,000 mixture of yards and meters per week. There was also 30-45 minutes of dryland six days a week. September through December, we focused on structural adaptation. With that, we are looking to stimulate major physiological growth that will make him go faster. At this stage, we don't emphasize fine-tuning. Instead, we have spent a lot of time on endurance work, improving technical issues and gaining strength-putting money in the bank.
Can Michael Phelps really live a "balanced" lifestyle and win eight (was it more?) Olympic gold medals?
Rahm Emanuel accepted the position of White House chief of staff although he had "some reservations in him accepting the position." Emanuel has young children and "cited his family as a big consideration when making the decision." Do you think Rahm Emanuel hesitated on accepting the job knowing he would have a "balanced lifestyle?"
Tiger Woods started playing golf at age nine. Do you think his childhood was balanced?
When I was in college I started going to this Bible study that was in my apartment complex. The guy who led the study was a Political Science major and he always dug into some heady stuff. One day when we got to his apartment, he had an article sitting on our chairs that read, "Did Jesus Lead a Balanced Life?" I kept that article for such a long time, but now that I want to refer to it I can't find it. Was Jesus' life in balance? He didn't marry, he left his parents and siblings, he didn't set up an adobe, he might not have even eaten a balanced diet. Was he of all people living a balanced lifestyle?
But, I think it goes back to the definition of a "Balanced Lifestyle." What he did do, He did well. He lived a very focused and prioritized life.
Here is what I think. We can't do it all so we must:
- make a list of what we want to do in our lives
- then prioritize
- focus on the top few on the list
- prepare to sacrifice something that is later on the list
- in a couple years reorganize your list again
- focus on those top few on the list
So maybe we can't do everything we want all at the same time, but through our lifetime we can focus on what is important at the time.
When I had my second child I stayed home until he was one year old. Then, my husband and I realized that I had to go back to "work" if we were ever going to get out of our 700 square foot apartment. I didn't pursue my "career" job, but I accepted a position that would not add stress to my life and allow me, without guilt, to take off a day if one of my children was sick, and yet help us pay off some school debt. I needed to make this decision to take the job at the time, because a) I wanted to be available to my kids, b) wanted to get out of our small apartment. I had to make decisions and sacrifices depending on the situation and the priority at the time. I would later pursue my career path.
Another example is that I wasn't exercising much for the last couple years, because, honestly, I did not have the time to get in the shape that I wanted to get into. At the end of last year I said it is time to reorganize my priority list and put that near the top of my list. Not being a morning person, I now get up at 5:00 am six days a week and run for 40 minutes at the gym. (Yes, there are some crazies who are LEAVING the gym all showered and dressed for work when I arrive which means they got up in the 4am hour! Who is crazy now?) I sacrificed sleep.
What else have I given up now that I am a mom, a wife, a full-time employee, and a person who just wants to write? I have given up a clean house. Yes, as much as I want a clean house and have it presentable for someone to drop on by, it didn't cut my priority list and I hate to say I just can't keep up with the house and I have to accept it's condition for now. Later, it might get a little closer to the top and our friendly abode might be a little more acceptable one day.
So, in conclusion, I can not balance everything that is on my list, but I can prioritize and focus on the few while sacrificing something else.
Do you have a different definition to a "Balanced Lifestyle?" Have you managed to live in "balance" or do you think it is even attainable?
(Notice poll about a Balanced Life in the right column of this blog.)
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