Ah, balance. It’s become a bit of a controversial topic, hasn’t it? I’m sure you’ve heard both sides of the argument: “Here’s how to balance it all!” and “Balance is impossible! Let’s ban the word from the lexicon!”
I have, too. And I don’t want to get into an argument about semantics.
Because I believe that balance is subjective—what it means depends entirely upon the person who’s attempting to achieve it. Truly, balance is about prioritization, and what each of us prioritizes will be different. It should be different! Balance for me may not be balance for you. And that’s okay.
I think the real key—the most important part—is that we figure out what balance means to each of us personally, before we run off in hasty pursuit of it.
List Your Titles
This is the easy part: start by listing all of the titles you go by. Here’s a few quick examples: mom, CEO, little league coach, son, best friend, etc.
Now, write the basic duties of each. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list, just write what pops into your head. What are the main responsibilities of this role? What are the things you must remember to do every week or every day to maintain your coveted spot as [insert role here]?
Write it down.
Rate Your Roles
Now, rate each of the roles in your life. It won’t be easy. (Does mom go before wife, or wife go before mom?!) But there has to be an order. There must be a priority. And remember, this is for your eyes only—this is your balance, nobody else’s, so don’t let the potential opinions of others cloud your judgment.
And if you must make two titles tie, okay—I get it. But try to only give each title a number between 1 and 10 (or 17 or 4 or 27). Try not to think about it too much, just assign the number that comes to you first and let that be it. (Hint: I’ll let you change your numbers later, if you really want to!)
Prioritize Your Top Three
The reality is you can’t do everything 100% all of the time. Pick your top three roles for this moment in your life, and consider ways you can prioritize those roles (and their accompanying responsibilities) above all else.
This doesn’t mean you have to ignore any of your other roles; it just means that when the responsibilities of one conflict with the responsibilities of another, you know which one will be your focus.
Instead of spreading yourself thin, and trying to be the best at everything in the name of “balance”, focus your attention on the responsibilities you consider most important. Any extra time, attention, and energy you have can fall to your other responsibilities, as needed.
Repeat as Necessary
Balance—much like our roles and our lives—is dynamic, not static. The things you prioritize now may not be your top priority in five years or next year or even a few months from now. Go through this process, as often as necessary in order to find the balance that works best for your life and where your priorities currently lie.
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Once you’ve identified your priorities, then you can do your best to balance them (and be incredibly gracious and forgiving of yourself, as always, if you fall short). But we’ll never achieve it by grasping for some societal (or Instagram) view of what balance looks like—none of us will ever successfully be able to achieve everything we’re expected to as wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, friends, citizens, business owners, school board members, executives, class moms, class dads, and so on. As many have said before me—that’s the thing with balance: you won’t always be good at everything; you just have to make sure all the scales are being filled enough that you’re basically balancing out.
And I’d argue that even further—per my process above—make sure you’ve decided, ahead of time, exactly how much you want to fill each scale. Be intentional with it. Some may want to be a better father than they want to be an executive. Another may want to kill it in their business before they’d worry about class mom duties. All of these are right, so long as they’re right for you. I have my own opinions of which scales should be filled, and how high. And that’s the “balance” standard I’ll hold myself to.
Find your own balance, and give it your best shot.
What are the top priorities you want to balance in your life?