Feeling “out of balance” seems to be the American Way. We are pulled and stretched in many directions, and keeping it all in balance becomes quite a challenge. Yet when we consciously choose which things are most important and which things must go, balance is attainable.
Finding balance means putting the things you value most as a priority, which can leave you feeling empowered and fulfilled. When you are “in balance,” things that are not as important don’t command as much (if any) of your energy and time. When “less important” things begin to take over, you tend to feel out of balance.
Finding balance is a constant process. It’s not some equilibrium that is maintained magically once you find it. Every time you consider beginning or ending something, by definition, the balance will be disturbed. You are saying YES to something and NO to something else. Life is made up of choices and those choices define your life.
When taking on more responsibilities or activities, it’s important to recognize what you are saying YES or NO to. If you are spending your time and energy in one place, you cannot be spending it in another– at the same time. For example, if you volunteer (saying YES), there is something you are giving up (saying NO to) – somewhere you won’t be when you are volunteering.
“They all seem important,” my client Sandy said to me. “There are the kids’ activities, a full time career, volunteer work, the relationship with my husband, and I’m taking classes at the local college,” she explained. “Now I’m being offered an opportunity to present a workshop. It’s something I’ve always been interested in pursuing,” Sandy said as she presented the scale-tipping invitation. “I really want to do it but can barely handle what I have on my plate now. What should I do?”
A powerful exercise I do with clients is called, “Powerful YESes and NOs.” To best evaluate the choices, we look at what the client is saying YES to and what he/she is saying NO to. Something has to give. It can be other activities, time with family or friends, or possibly getting less sleep. The time must come from somewhere else.
As we went through the topics, it was clear what resonated with Sandy’s purpose vs. what she felt she “should do.” I even had her say the statements both ways, “I should
teach this workshop,” versus, “I could teach this workshop.” By simply changing the word, “should” to “could,” she realized that she really did have a choice.
By choosing to look at what she would be taking on (saying YES to) and what she would be releasing (saying NO to), the decision points came more clearly into focus.
One of my favorite sayings is, “You can have it all, but it might not be all at once.” Something might be exciting but doesn’t fit into your schedule. To save this opportunity, but not give up your time and energy right now, start an IDEA file to store the information. At some point, look through your IDEA file to see if anything should be re-considered. If not, you retain the information and can go back to it at any time.
Almost any opportunity – if it’s meant to be – will still be available when the timing is right.
Coaching Challenge: When you are presented with an idea of adding something new into your life, first try it on to experience how it “feels.” If it feels exciting and worth evaluating, then look at the YESes and NOs. In making this decision, what are you saying YES to and what are you saying NO to? Is it worth it right now to make this commitment? If it is worth it, then do it. If not, tuck this opportunity away in your IDEA file to be re-considered later. This will help you to keep the important things in your life at top priority and keep you from diluting your time and energy. In other words, it will help you to maintain balance. Also look at the things that you are currently saying YES to that may be a “should” vs. what you truly desire. Practice saying NO to the things that bring you down or take energy away from you so you can say YES to your true priorities.