The Myth of Achieving Balance

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As a life coach, I work with ladies who have multiple careers. I call them “slashers.” Through the Lady Project, I’ve met a letterpress printer/avid runner/graphic designer, a social media consultant/entrepreneur/nonprofit director, and a personal stylist/fundraiser/mom (the list goes on and on!). I myself am a life purpose coach/arts & culture administrator/modern quilter/blogger. Slashers can answer the question “What do you do?” in many ways, because they have multiple careers, passions, identities, and volunteer gigs through which they express who they are.

My mission is to help you connect the dots between your gigs and turn your slashes into dashes by finding the common threads that connect all that you do so that you can live your life from a place of purpose, authenticity, and balance.

There are a lot of things that are awesome about being a slasher, and a lot of challenges, too, that I’ll be writing about here on the Lady Project blog.

As the holiday season approaches, let’s tackle one of the challenges that my clients are always grappling with: balance.

Let’s face it: we are busy, ambitious ladies with a lot going on. Checking in with ourselves and keeping our time and wellness in check takes thoughtfulness and conscious effort, especially when we’re juggling multiple gigs. And even more especially during the holiday season, when the calendar gets filled up with shopping, baking, and social and family engagements.

1. Start with the big picture

Identifying what it is that you do and how you invest your time and energy is the first step in taking a look at balance in your life.

Take out a piece of paper and map out your slashes. What are your main gigs, careers, passions, and identities? Create a circle for each, and write what it is in the center.

Some circles will be bigger than others - like a full-time job, or being a mom. Some are smaller - like volunteering on a committee or your knitting hobby. They can’t all be big all the time, as that would be completely overwhelming.

The balance between your gigs is constantly evolving as parts of your life grow or shrink in relation to each other. When a big project comes along for your business, your hobby has to shrink for a little while to make space. When things are slow at your job, you can ramp up your involvement in that cause you care so deeply about.

Your map of your slashes is a snapshot of where you are right now. It is a tool for creating awareness around how the pieces of your life come together and helps you see how you're really investing your time and energy. Ask yourself: How would I like this to look different? What areas would I like to see grow or shrink, and what can I do to make that happen?

2. Tackle the day to day

The way that magazines, commercials, and pop culture in general talk about balance is that it a utopian, blissful dream destination that we arrive at when we finally have it all figured out.

In reality, balance is a practice. It is a process that requires daily tending and care, and it is influenced by every choice that you make. We touch moments and days of balance, but unfortunately, once you arrive you don’t get to set up your beach chair and stay forever.

Instead of reaching for that mythical land and beating yourself up for not being able to figure out how to magically teleport there, try using this simple tool:

When you face a choice - big or small - about how you invest your time and energy, ask yourself: “Is this moving me towards balance, or away from balance?”

Hint: Saying yes to attending a meeting that you don’t really want to go to during the one time that you were able to block off for your favorite yoga class - not moving you toward balance. Saying yes to speaking at the next Lady Project event 3x3 about how you started your business - well, that might mean moving your business to the forefront of your day, which is exactly the kind of balance you’re looking for.

The important thing to remember is that you have opportunities throughout every single day to make choices that can move you toward or away from balance. These small choices - your practice of balance - add to up to your big picture.

Your turn: How do you practice balance in your life?

Carole Ann is a life purpose coach, arts & culture administrator, quilter, and blogger based in Providence, Rhode Island. She works with women to uncover, articulate, and activate their life purpose so that they can craft an intentional life that embraces what matters to them most. When she is not coaching, she can be found blogging at caroleannpenney.com, or designing modern quilts in her studio.