The Elusive Balance Between Work, Family, Intimate Relationships and Self

Life balance.  A destination or way of being?

It’s like some kind of mysterious creature that many of us seek.  For a brief time it reveals itself, we think we’ve honored and befriended it then just when we look away and think “I got this…” BOOM…your life is out of balance again.

Oh damn, how did that happen?

I like to think of “life balance” as more of a fluid state.  As we work hard, nurture our relationships, play with our kids and take care of ourselves, the scales easily tip one way or the other.  A state of balance is never static.  In order not get too out of whack, it requires a mindful awareness of where we are at any one time or our precious “balance” will no longer be.

What Does Life Balance Look Like for You?

It’s important to begin by having a sense of what balance might look like for you.  It will be unique and have it’s own stamp apart from others but you might be considering primary buckets such as work, family, intimate relationships and self.  What is important to you?  What are your priorities?  Some might be out of need (financial) and others might be out of desire (getting in your weekly mountain bike ride) but nonetheless they are yours.  Draw a picture of what your life balance might look like or if you’re a list maker, make a list.  Find the process that resonates the most with you to generate what it is you are striving to maintain.

Things That Take Your Attention Away from Your Personal Balance

Now that you have a sense of what balance looks like for you, it’s time to be clear on the things that might be distracting to that cause.  There are many things that cause people to look away, sometimes even for long periods of time.

  • periods of higher demands at work
  • pressure on yourself to accomplish a project
  • overwhelm from a house full of kids
  • a need to keep doing rather than being, particularly risky for those who believe they are loved for what they do and not who they are (you identify with being a “Type A” personality)
  • work that requires extensive travel which inherently pulls you out of your routines

Distractors can not only throw you off but they can also become a problem of chronic stress.  The implications to your long-term health, wellness and relationships are significant.

Signs You are Out of BalanceStress and Out of Balance

Many actually don’t know when they are off kilter.  You might be so overwhelmed you are running on adrenaline.  Often spouses, partners or friends might alert you to the reality that you are running yourself ragged.  Sometimes people get sick because their immune systems are taxed.  If you are the kind of person who isn’t well attuned to yourself, do yourself and favor and listen to others and any potential signals from your body.

How to Reset 

If you get off track, get refocused and do it again.  Remember that life balance is a process and fluid. Remembering this can make it less likely to beat yourself up every time you have to make choices to reset.  Give yourself a break.

Each time you get off track, take some time to reflect on the following:

  • How did I get here?
  • What can I drop?
  • What can I say no to?
  • Are there different choices I can be making?
  • Am I doing too much?
  • What are my priorities?

Allow time to make the changes needed to get back into balance.  While doing so, consider how you got off track and whether there were warning signs to this.  Attempt to be more mindful moving forward while knowing you will likely be going through this process again.  And again.

Sometimes people are driven in a way that truly doesn’t serve them and it requires help from a therapist or related professional to help get them unstuck.  Family of origin teachings can be powerful and deeply engrained.

What is life balance to you?  A destination or way of being?