The Elusive Life-Balance
Women are amazing jugglers! We strive for the elusive goal of life balance while spinning plates and keeping the balls in the air. We heroically juggle work, family, finances and faith while trying to fit in exercise, personal growth and a spiritual practice! The shuffle of deadlines, appointments, resources and responsibilities. Somewhere in our mind we stepped into our superhero costume convinced we could pull it off. Believing that not only can we HAVE IT ALL, but we can DO IT ALL!
Perhaps if you are like me you get exhausted just thinking about it! I used to feel my life was like a balloon that sprung leaks. Placing my finger in one leak another would spring up. As a mother who home-educated her children while simultaneously running a corporation, there were a lot of leaks! I used to cry at night and beg God to help me be able to do all things. Yet, when business was moving smoothly and sales were soaring things at home suffered. When home and business were gliding the kids education lagged. When I made the hard push to get all those running smoothly my body took the hit. Stress, lack of exercise and sleep began to take their toll!
Finding Life Balance After the Crash
On the outside I maintained the image. I lived in a beautiful home in an exclusive neighborhood. My entire family drove luxury vehicles. The business grew. People praised me with comments like, “You are amazing! I Just don’t know how you do it all.” On the inside, however, superwoman crashed!
Normally I am uncomfortable talking about my life. But I pray if your balloon has some leaks this will be an encouragement. It has not been easy. Although the crash left pain and wreckage including the break up of a 27 year marriage, I now see it all as a gift.
I went into the crash as one woman and emerged as another. I changed my thoughts, especially around who I AM. I released perfectionism. Read more about that in my blog “Perfectionism: How to Overcome Perfectionism and Enjoy the Perfect“). I changed my words. I released words based in fear and lack. See “Enjoy Life & Success: Upgrade your Self Talk” and I changed my actions. Step by step by God’s grace I built a life I truly love! My life is not “perfect” but it is very rich and I have peace and joy.
5 Keys to Life Balance and Joy Found in The Bible
Know Your Priorities
Although we wish for more than 24 hours in a day it is not a lack of time that creates the challenge. It is how we allocate our time and our ability to prioritize. It is learning to say YES to those things that line up with our highest purpose and NO to those things that do not. When we are not clear on our values and what is truly important to us, however, our life is often dictated by what Stephen Covey called the “tyranny of the urgent” .
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey
When we operate from our core value all the rest seems to fall in place. The striving ceases and balance is restored. I believe Jesus had this understanding in Matthew 6:33
“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.”
2. Order Your Thoughts
Look around you.. Everything you see originated with a thought. Even creation of the world began with God declaring what he intended to do. Although I heard this addressed many times in personal development seminars, It took me years to actually believe it. The idea that my thoughts had power to create the conditions of my life seemed far fetched.
“All action is the result of thought. It determines the conditions of life, and to have better conditions in life we must first make efforts to organize our thoughts.” – Raymond Holliwell, Working With the Law
The conditions we desire to create on the outside must begin in our mind. After 30 years of both my own experience and others I have coached, I now know this to be a fact. When there is chaos in our heads, chaos in our environment and relationships are sure to follow!
In the book Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald he hits this spot on,
“In Western culture we produce huge numbers of books to help us organize our work, our calendars, our production schedules, our studies and our careers. I have not seen much that speaks directly to the question of internal, or spiritual organization. And that is where the problem is most acute.”
The question arises, “Ok so HOW do I organize my thoughts?” The first step is becoming aware of them. Just be the observer. Begin to pay attention to general patterns. Second focus on thoughts that serve you and your highest purpose. In his letter to the Philipians Paul listed many types of thoughts such as true, noble, praiseworthy, etc. He concluded with the admonition to
“...think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” Phil 4:8 AMP
This can be done many ways including prayer, meditation, affirmations, setting intentions, and visualization. Understanding the mind-heart-mouth connection for manifesting your goals dreams and desires is the foundation. I cover this thoroughly in the workshop “Think, Feel and Speak Your Way to Health & Prosperity“. When our mind and heart are in agreement balance is restored to our health and our life. Especially when these are in alignment with our core values.
3. Understand Your Season
Everything has a time and a season. You may remember this as the song “Turn-turn-turn” by the Byrds. This song is based on a chapter in the Bible; Ecclesiastes written by one of the wisest kings in history.
“There is a season (a time appointed) for everything and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven—” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Understanding this removes a great deal of struggle. What worked in the old season often will not work in the new. Individuals have a season. Businesses have a season. The activities, schedule and priorities are very different for a young mother than they are for a grandmother. The marketing strategies are very different for a start up business than an established brand. Things that worked in the past may now be a source of fruitless stress and frustration. The key is to know and understand your “now” season then plan your actions for it.
4. Learn to be present and enjoy the now
One of the greatest lessons I am learning is how to stay in the present. In my opinion no one addresses this subject better than Eckhart Tolle in his classic The Power of Now.
We get out of balance and experience less joy when our focus moves from enjoying the present to dwelling on the past or future.
I never forget the day I walked outside after staying in the hospital with my newborn preemie daughter. I had made the commitment to be there with her 24/7 and breast feed her until she could leave ICU and go home. The result was one week with no windows, no sunshine and no fresh air. I can not describe how blue the sky looked or how warm the sun felt the day I stepped outside. The act of breathing in the crisp morning air alone was a sensual delight! All the things I had taken for granted became a source of pleasure. What if we lived this way every day?
Set a goal to be mindful and fully present. Even if it is 15 or 20 minutes a day first thing in the morning. Say a prayer of gratitude or write in your gratitude journal. Review again just before sleeping. See if you don’t feel a greater sense of balance and joy the rest of the day.
5. Know and live by YOUR values (and not “shoulds”)
Two sisters started their day. One of them was focused on her “to-do” list. There was the house that needed cleaning before the guests came. Then the trip to the market. Preparing the food would take hours. Her anxiety rose by the minute. The name of that sister was Martha. You may be familiar with the story found in scripture. The other sister is Mary. Here is a snapshot.
“38 Now while they were on their way, Jesus entered a village [called Bethany], and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.39 She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching. 40 But Martha was very busy and distracted with all of her serving responsibilities; and she approached Him and said, “Lord, is it of no concern to You that my sister has left me to do the serving alone? Tell her to help me and do her part.” Luke 10:38-40 AMP
The problem is not that Martha was busy and distracted. The challenge arose when she imposed her choices and values on others. She wanted Jesus to enforce it! Jesus response, however, was telling.
41 But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
Yay Mary! Mary made a choice. Mary chose what was to her advantage; feeding her spirit. When we make that choice it can not be taken. We can all learn a lesson from Mary. Balance and joy are sure to follow. <3