Wanting, planning, and maintaining balance in life can be one of the most challenging and tricky things we do as humans, particularly Queer humans, and especially during the busy summer.
When your life is too busy, too full, too crammed with major and minor things that eat up your time, you can often slip into a pattern of imbalance that eventually becomes more than a pattern, it becomes a normal routine. All your energy is focused on the busyness of doing, and what you are getting never seems to be rewarding or satisfying — simply because you never leave time to celebrate, relax, and enjoy the rewards of your hard work.
It’s all too easy to find yourself imbalanced, not paying enough attention to the important people and things in your life. While you need to have drive and focus if you’re going to get things done, taking this too far can lead to frustration, intense stress, and a pile of burnt ash. That sucks!
The winter of 2013-14 was a particularly tough one for me. It arrived with me losing a job that I was really good at doing, a job where my heart and passion were deeply invested. The winter also brought financial and emotional stress, leaving me wondering how it was all going to work out. I relied a lot on what I coach others to do — attract and allow. Finally in early 2014 as spring approached, and my star Venus started to rise, life began to align, and the future began to look much more optimistic. So far, so good.
However, that long winter left both my husband Doug and I worn out and in much need of some major renewal, rejuvenation, and some reinvention. Luckily, I got a nice little tax return and we decided to cash in some Delta Sky miles and spontaneously went to New York City — just the two of us. Wow was that little getaway needed. We walked a lot, slept in, talked to one another more than we had for a long time. We saw five excellent plays, toured museums, ravaged Brooklyn, dined whenever we wanted, and just let it all unfold before us. Life should be like that at times, and I am a firm believer that balance sometimes cannot be planned, just allowed to happen.
I also am a firm believer that to get the life you want, you must plan and create space for it to come to you. It all starts with the roles in your life. The first one being the role to yourself, you. How do you renew yourself physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually every week? Is there a possibility to combine activities that renews you in multiple ways regarding these human needs? I have always found that the greatest memories I have in life are when there’s a combination of all five of these renewal areas on one occasion.
After you’ve planned for balance with yourself, think about fitting in the other important roles in your life for the upcoming week. Mine are husband, father/grandfather, executive director, friend, volunteer, and home/auto owner. These are prioritized in importance because if my week gets crazy on a spoon, the foremost roles are still renewed and I find and feel balance. After I have considered all of these roles, I ask myself the same question at the beginning of each week. What is the one important thing I can do in this role this week that will have the most significant impact? Once I answer that, the answer results in either an appointment(s) or a mental focus in that role for the week.
If the roles in your life-approach really don’t resonate with you, consider areas of life that are important to you. For example: artistic expression, positive attitude, career, education, family, friends, financial freedom, physical challenge, pleasure, or public service. Your own identification and combination of these (or different) things, help with prioritization and life balance.
If you want balance, it means taking action. Fact. Where are the gaps? These are the areas of your life that need attention, if you really desire balance. Otherwise, continued overwhelm and havoc are in the long-term forecast. Remember that gaps can go both ways. There are almost certainly areas that are not getting as much attention as you’d like. However, there may also be areas where you’re putting in more effort and time than you’d ideally like. These areas are sapping energy and enthusiasm that may better be directed elsewhere.
Once you have identified the areas that need attention, it’s time to plan the actions needed to work on regaining balance. Starting with the neglected areas, what things do you need to start doing to regain balance? In the areas that currently sap your energy and time, what can you stop doing. It takes attention, because attention ultimately is all there is.
“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.” —Frank Herbert