This piece originally appeared on The Life Change Network


Balance: We want it. We strive for it. We read articles on how to get it. We follow people who seem to know more about it than we do.

And yet….it isn’t a realistic goal. Even the happiest among us wouldn’t use the word ‘balance” when describing our lives. Let’s face it: Balance isn’t a natural extension of the messiness that is all of our lives.

What if, instead, we allowed our definition of balance to change as we changed, to ebb and flow as our lives ebbed and flowed?

When I catch myself chasing that elusive balance, I try to remind myself of these following “musts:”

I must not strive for perfect. Really, balance is another word for perfect. Both are unrealistic and killers of happiness and self-esteem. And you know what else they are? They are like little gremlins whose life’s work is to take you out of the moment. And unfortunately, all-too-often they do a great job of it.

I must remember that I am my own best friend. Cut yourself some slack. You are doing an awesome job at…everything!  Yes, I know that mean voice in your head tells you all sorts of things about how imbalanced you are, about how uneven and imperfect your life is. Tell her (or him) thank you and carry on with your amazing self.

I must do more of what works. You know those days when everything seems to work great? You cross everything off your “to do” list, you make a great dinner for your family, you finish all your errands, you spend wonderful quality time with your significant other? Figure out what you do on those days that helps to make things happen so smoothly – then rinse and repeat. Did you get a good night’s sleep? Cut out certain foods? Stay off the Internet? Avoid people who suck out your time and energy? With the right awareness, you can make it happen again and again!

I must stop listening to everyone else. “Everyone else” refers to anyone who is not you. And anyone who is not you is not living your life, nor will they ever. They don’t know you better than you know you. And you know what else? Their lives aren’t perfectly balanced, no matter what they tell you or tweet or post to Facebook. Look to yourself, not to the outside, to find your answers and your realistic balance.

I must get know when I need to be in action, and when I need to rest. Does this one really need an explanation? There is a time to stop and there is a time to go. Knowing the difference is a sign of true wisdom. Reminding ourselves of this is a daily practice. And somewhere within this practice is, I believe, a morsel of something resembling the thing most of us call “balance.”