A Need for Balance

One of my favorite finds this year is the book and series called, Good Omens. In it, the earth’s birthdate is uncovered, and it turns out the earth is a Libra. At the time, this made me laugh as I too am a Libra. However, with all that 2020 is challenging us with, I am discovering that both I and the world are being asked to find more balance, which is both a core challenge and passion of we Libras.

Photo by Evan Clark on Unsplash

Balance is not a fixed location but a constant readjustment. Think of someone riding a unicycle. They do not get the unicycle upright and then stay in that perfect state of equilibrium. To stay balanced the cyclist – and we – need to make constant adjustments in how we think, how we act, and how we interact.

Balance Your Time

Much has been said about balancing our time between work and home. Balancing time is also finding the present moment. Staying in the past brings regret. Focusing on the future brings fear. Being in the present moment is the point of balance between negative emotions of the past and future. It is also the space where we are empowered to act.

All or Nothing

Much of our pain these days in in taking sides and seeing issues, people, and situations as clear-cut dichotomies, which they never are. All-or-nothing thinking makes us lopsided and off-balance. Through my own life, I have found that nothing is absolutely black-or-white, right-or-wrong, true-or-false. Between all people, issues, and ideas there is always gray. When we can find that gray, we can find balance.

Action and Inaction

Where all-or-nothing exists in our mind, the concept of Yin-Yang expresses balance in action. Yang gets the limelight for me personally and much of society. Yang is aggression, action, accomplishments, and holding to beliefs. Taking action is not bad in itself. The trouble comes in when this is all we have and when we don’t make space for the Yin. Yin is about flexibility, adaptability, and flow. Yin is about strength through bending and humility. You can learn more about these concepts in this great video.

For me personally, I usually lead with the Yang. I am the bull in the china shop trying to fight for what is right and make things happen. Again, this is not bad, unless action is all I have. Sometimes the best solution is in the pause, in acceptance, in flexibility, in humility, in the Yin. The key to peace is not to choose Yin over Yang or Yang over Yin but to discern when to use each.

Equality

Equality is finding balance between people. Nothing, read that again, nothing makes one person more important than someone else. Not money, not beauty, not nationality, not gender. We are all equal. The only inequality that exists is based on our own judgments. I have experienced inequality growing up a woman in a man’s world. I have being perceived as “the other” being the only Caucasian in an African American History class. I have felt superiority bestowed upon me due to my education, position, financial status, and skin tone. Through all of these instances, I see that the differences, the inequalities were all in someone’s mind. To find balance between us and others, we need to release the false sense of separation. We need to seek to understand and accept the other, instead of spreading and continuing prejudice. We need to release our fear of loss as meeting others as equals (raising up others) does not minimize ourselves. Together we are both stronger.

Steadiness through Constantly Changing

Where are you feeling off-balance? Is time making demands you can not meet? Is your thinking skewed? Is the imbalance between trying to act when the best option is to wait? Is it in feeling that you are due more than you receive or a fear that others are taking from you? Take a few moments to close your eyes. Breathe gently in through your nose and out through your mouth. Find the balance and peace of this moment. Then examine where you feel off balance. What needs to shift to help you find serenity?  Throughout your day check-in and make minor adjustments to help you maintain stability in balance.

Being Present in Life and Work

I have written a lot of articles about work-life balance. Back in 2010, I shared that to be balanced in work and life we need to stop compartmentalizing our lives and look at bringing our work and life into wholeness. I have encouraged you to explore the cost of constantly “doing.”   And we have looked into our thoughts about time – as David Byrne aptly sung, “Time isn’t holding up, time isn’t after us.” Through all my exploration of work-life balance, at the core of finding our balance, of releasing the pressure to do, of getting out from under the time crunch, is learning, becoming, and being more present at work.

For a long time, being present was the subject of yogis and spiritual leaders. Now it is becoming more mainstream and has been adopted by many companies. Catherine Johns shares a great article of how mindfulness has entered the workspace, and how it is changing our experience and efficiency of work. To be present or mindful is to be aware of and in control of your experience. I agree with Eckhardt Tolle that now is a time of awakening of our consciousness. This can be on a deep spiritual level for some of us, and for many it is simply the opportunity to stop being stuck in the routine of life and finally take the time to ask why before we act.

man outside of swimming pool
Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Being present is moving up to the 40,000-foot vision instead of trudging through our daily life. Being present is stepping back and seeing the broader picture of what we have agreed to participate in. Think of it like being in a swimming pool. When you are in the water, you are focusing on staying afloat. Maybe you are struggling. Maybe you are floating gently. Maybe you are splashing your pal. But you are in the water and all you can see is water. When you are outside of the pool, you can see the boundaries of the pool. You can become aware of how others are using the pool. You can see those who are afraid or those who are Olympian swimmers. Being present is having the perspective of being outside of the pool, while being in it.

Another way to look at this is when a friend shares with you issues in her workplace. She tells you about issues between departments and people. She expresses challenges with deadlines or technologies. You can understand what she is sharing, but you are not experiencing it. You are separate from it. Often you can provide insight into her situation because you are outside of it and can be objective.  Being present is being outside of and objective about our own lives.

Being present is watching our emotions instead of being sucked into them. Being present is realizing we are not trapped in a certain situation. Being present distances us from challenges where we can rise above and make choices based on perspective, not fear. Being present is knowing we are separate from our thoughts and beliefs. Being present is rising above life, so we can make better choices in life.

Have you experienced being present? At home or at work? What did it feel like? What did being present allow you to do that you couldn’t when you were unconscious in the situation? How do you include being present in throughout your day?

Take Back Your Work Life

When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

Diane Beaulieu, Entrée Kitchen owner and B.I.G. pod leader, asks, “When you have that feeling of there just aren’t enough hours in the day, where do you suggest one starts to relieve the stress?”

Great question Diane!

Take Back Your Work LifeThere are four places to find relief when you feel there are not enough hours in the day, there is too much to get done, and the stress of your workload is too much. As a recovering Type-A, I have a tendency to think that EVERYTHING needs to get done RIGHT NOW and by ME. If you have the same struggles, take a look at priorities, best use, taking a break, and trust.

Priorities

Look over your to-do list. What is truly critical? When we get lost in the stress of our to-do’s we often don’t take a moment to determine if the task should even be on our list and if it needs to be done right now.

Create four quadrants on a sheet of paper and label the sections urgent-important, urgent-unimportant, not urgent-important, and not urgent-unimportant. Place each of your tasks in a quadrant. Now look at the urgent-important group. Is there enough time in your day to complete the tasks that are both urgent and important? Then look at not urgent-important and urgent-unimportant. Out of those items what is truly necessary to you to complete now? If you don’t have time to do it today, schedule a time to complete it. Take the not urgent-unimportant and either drop them in the trash or record them in a notebook. Look at the notebook once a month or once a quarter and determine if any of the items have moved up on the priority-importance scale.

Remember the quadrant tool and use it to prioritize any new projects before adding them to your list.

Best Use

Look at the prioritized to-do list. What are the things you need to do yourself? Entrepreneurs, parents, and caregivers often feel such a strong responsibility and love for what they are doing that they put everything on their own to-do list. When the truth is, we are sometimes not the best person to make something happen. The result is that business owners get bogged down in the minutia of office busy work leaving them no time to focus on building and improving their business. When caring for another, there are sometimes not enough time in the day or what is needed to be done is outside our skillset. No matter your situation ask yourself if you are the right person to complete the task and if it is the best use of your skills and time. If the answer is no, find or hire someone else to complete it.

Take a Break

This may seem counterintuitive, but when we are stressed we are actually very unproductive. Go for a walk, do deep breathing, meditate, exercise, watch a funny cat video. By releasing the mind from the grip of stress, even for a few moments, you can gain mental clarity and re-energize yourself for those tasks that you really want to get done.

Trust

When I feel stress overcoming me I repeat the mantra, “Everything that needs to get done today will.” Hopefully you have shortened your to-do list by prioritizing and delegating projects, but if it still feels like there are not enough hours in the day to complete what you desire, instead of worrying that it won’t get done, trust that it will. It is amazing what this little mind game does. For me it removes the tight constrictive fear of stress. When that is gone, it feels like there are more hours in the day. Albert Einstein said, “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” Time is flexible depending on how we perceive it. Expand the number of hours in the day by telling yourself there are enough.

Hope this answers your question Diane and also helps others who feel behind the eight ball.

Are there tools you use? Share your thoughts and help others reduce stress.

Looking for more help? Check out From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction.