Balance is an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. You balance a bike. You balance relationships. You balance when you walk or run. You eat a well-balanced meal. But what happens when your life becomes unbalanced and how do you get it back on track?
The other day I had a case of vertigo. Talk about being out of sorts and struggling to do the “normal” day-to-day tasks! Luckily, I had already been seeing a physical therapist about another issue, and he scheduled me for an early morning appointment to further diagnose the issue and provide some relief. What I liked most about my visit, besides finding relief, was getting balance back in my life. He related it to sitting on a 3-legged stool. While each of those legs is used to support our weight (balance), if one is broken or not working well, it throws everything else out of whack.
I don’t know about you, but haven’t we all felt a little off balance the past several weeks? Maybe you are trying to navigate working at home, keeping the peace during isolation, teaching the kids lesson plans that you never signed up to teach, or waiting for the unemployment check to hit your account so you can pay the bills. When we try to balance on only two legs of a three-legged stool, we find that we get agitated more easily, don’t make the wisest choices, or look for the easy way out to avoid conflict.
A work-life balance is the distribution of weight related to work, home, and relationships enabling someone to remain upright and steady. Here are four simple steps I use to maintain a healthy work-life balance: Reflection, Release, Recalibration, Results.
Step One: Reflection – I pause to ask key questions of where I’ve been and where I’m going. What are my goals in my professional life? What are my goals in my personal life? Am I moving towards them successfully? Where do those goals conflict with each other?
Stephen Covey once said, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Reflection gives us the opportunity to pause and make sure we are climbing the right wall.
Step Two: Release – I let go of low priorities, the things which are taking energy from me, but not truly helping me reach my top goals. I have to release these things in order to find space for myself and my family.
I used to love riding my motorcycle on a cool spring day. The feeling was exhilarating traveling the back roads that wound through town. The only problem was that I often traveled alone. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes this was needed. But many times it separated me from my wife and two kids. While I enjoyed the activity, it did not help me reach my goal of spending more quality time with my family.
Step Three: Recalibration – After letting go of what is unnecessary, it is time to implement new priorities that align better with my direction. What new habits do I need to acquire in order to tend to both the requirements of my professional life and the needs of my personal and relational life?
When I turned 40, I realized that I couldn’t run 20 yards without being winded! It was then that I took up running as a healthy activity. It started small. One block became two blocks. Walk, run, walk and then maybe walk some more. Soon I had hit my first mile. Now, it is a new priority for me that has impacted not only my health, but my personal and work relationships as well.
Step Four: Results – This is a big one. Do not skip this step! Step four is about celebrating the traction and fruit produced by the hard work. Celebration is a part of maintaining healthy balance in all areas!
This year I get to celebrate turning 50! I know, not something that most people would think about celebrating. However, I am very blessed to be able to look back over the past several years and see the benefits of creating a work-life balance for myself. It is not always easy. Sometimes vertigo sets in and I balance on one leg more than the others, but when I put the effort into it, I am able to stay upright and steady.
I encourage you during this time to find someone or something to help you get balance back into your life. Maybe it’s a friend that will listen without judgement, a long forgotten activity that brings joy, relaxation, and focus to your life, or some outside counsel that can help you see things in a different perspective. Don’t forget that there are resources available to help you recover during this time! A few areas that help me find balance are God, family, and pursuing mental and physical well-being. Where do you find your balance?
*This blog post was written in collaboration with my brother, Michael Tudor.