Embrace Your Imbalanced Life

A question asked by a reader in the Coach T.I.A rebranding survey was along the lines of Life Balance. How do you live a balanced life while managing a job, family, friends, leisure time, spiritual development & home? And lo! Up popped Leslie with the exact same idea for a guest post just as I was about to write one – needless to say, we were on. Thanks Leslie for this excellent post about Balance & Imbalance!


Isn’t it amazing how we can go into certain situations thinking we’re the “experts” only to find that the people we’re there to help end up teaching US great life lessons?!

This is what happened to me last summer when I developed a 2-hour lunch & learn program called “Embracing Your Imbalanced Life” for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Women’s Executive Forum.

It was an unpaid job but promised me great exposure. As a new entrepreneur, I jumped at the chance to be in front of a new audience.

We set up a call to talk about what kind of topic might be appropriate for this group.  I started with a list of the things I usually facilitated and knew something about:

  • Communication styles
  • Personality conflicts & how to deal with them
  • Process Improvement
  • The Problem Solving Process

After each item I mentioned on my list my friend said the same thing:

“Boring!  We’ve heard it before!”

Fortunately I was able to move on from a severely bruised ego and ask, “So what are the holes then?  What is the thing this group needs someone to talk about?”

“Well, I don’t know about everyone else,” said my friend, “but I’m tired of hearing all the time that I need to be more balanced.

My life is imbalanced… I need to learn to deal with THAT!”

And so the idea was born.

We collaborated to create a class called “Embracing Your Imbalanced Life,” an interactive session focused on turning chaos into an asset.

A lunch program that normally gathers around 30 people, ended up drawing 75 powerful women together to talk about what we all wonder… how the heck DO we embrace the crazy, imbalanced lives we are living?!

(I guess this was a topic waiting to be talked about, huh!)

We played with a great exercise called The Wheel of Life to help people see where their lives might be out of balance and went through a series of questions about defining balance AND imbalance.

That’s when, in the midst of figuring out how imbalance can actually work for us, one group came up with a stunning realization!

We constantly compare ourselves to everyone else’s “Kodak moments.”

You know the ones..

  • perfect family pictures snapped by a lovely Christmas tree
  • vacation shots in front of the Eifel Tower
  • snapshots from weddings, formals, & cocktail parties where we look our absolute BEST that we plaster all over Facebook

But where are the shots of people without make up and in the same pajamas for 3 days? Who’s posting those?


And who’s living that way?


So we end up comparing the mental snapshots of our out-of-balance, crazy, hectic, make-us-want-to-tear-our-hair-out days with everyone else’s picture-perfect, photo-retouched, only-post-what’s-GREAT pictures on Facebook.

Is it any wonder we feel less than wonderful when we try to compare those two very opposite images?


So after that realization, we talked about strategies for staying balanced WITHIN our imbalance.

  • Planning a wedding that throws you out of balance financially –> using a budget keeps you sane
  • Running a marathon=can’t walk for days –> a training program that builds slowly, makes it possible
  • Changing jobs means longer hours as you learn  –> being clear on why the change is the right step for you (&/or your family) makes the long hours worth it

It was clear most of us weren’t going to magically become more balanced and have everything under control all the time.  But just like the perfect pictures on Facebook, we realized balance is a snapshot.

Sure we can get the family together for ONE great shot under the tree at Christmas.

But before we know it the kids are fighting, Dad’s back in front of the TV,  Aunt Bunny’s had one too many eggnogs, and we don’t care anyway because we’re online posting that perfect picture to prove to the world we DO have it all together.

“Look at US,” our picture proclaims. “We are happy & balanced, damn it!”

And we were (if only for a moment in time) – the picture proves it.  But what’s more fun…sitting for a perfect family picture or the chaos that ensues when the people we love are all under one roof celebrating being together?

I’d say it’s the latter.

But then again, I stopped using only the perfect pictures on Facebook.

The imbalanced ones end up getting a whole lot more laughs & comments.

And THAT, I love!

Maybe imbalance isn’t so bad after all.


For information on how you can attend Leslie’s upcoming ‘Embrace Your Imbalanced Life’ workshop in Denver on August 7, 2010 click here or e-mail her at leslie@embraceimbalance.com.

So tell us, what do YOU think of balance & do you think balance is worth seeking or is imbalance where it’s at? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  1. says

    Thanks for this awesome post Leslie! I was just talking to my folks about this yesterday – how balance never lasts and indeed, why SHOULD one strive for balance when it takes so much work and isn’t half as fun!?

    During the creative process for example, life does get a-kilter and as long as I keep my eye on the wave, knowing that ebbs and flows are the way of life, I’m in balance.

    Even nature maintains balance in gentle, undulating imbalanced ways. Nothing ever stays the same and embracing that is the way to live a life way less stressful than we may currently live.

    I’m with you – flowing & embracing the huge imbalances in my life 🙂 You rock!

  2. says

    Always happy to post, Tia! And this is a topic I’m becoming more & more interested in!! We all seem to want balanced lives but then idolize people who are COMPLETELY out of balance!

    Take Michael Phelps for example. Sure, he’s won the most gold medals of any Olympic athlete EVER. But the guy eats, he sleeps, he swims. That’s it?! How balanced is THAT?!

    We are all capable of great things…but we have to realized that great things might just pull us off balance. So go out and live a little out of whack for awhile and achieve greatness. Just don’t try to hang on to that level of excellence AND trying to be perfectly balanced…it might drive you bonkers!

  3. says

    Hi Leslie and Tia!

    Really enjoyed this post Leslie. Truthful! Real!

    If we’re living our own lives, then they will be imbalanced because we all gravitate toward different things. Let’s stop copying each other’s fake lives and live our own! Same thing with “getting into college” by being well-rounded. I don’t want to be well-rounded I want to be my own unique trapezoid, thank you!

    Giulietta, the Imbalanced Muse

  4. says

    Unique trapezoid – love it Julie!

    Leslie, it’s something for me to remember as I go through cycles of creation, that’s for sure. I never want to be a Phelps but I don’t want to be well rounded either!

    Interesting point there – that we idolise those whose lives are off balance and yet don’t want to be like them or make the sacrifices they do. So do we then idolise people we know we’ll never be like or do we aspire to be like them secretly?

    And should we maybe look at different role models for inspiration, people who aren’t achieving great heights and yet are very happy and successful on their own terms? hmmmmm… you’ve got me thinking!

  5. says


    You’ve got me thinking about what shape I’d be. Probably a reaaaaaaaally long, skinny rectangle (stretched thin) because I love doing lots of different things. Not to be well rounded…but because I like to learn new things and have different experiences!! I don’t want to be a circle (which sounds like the shape of someone trying to be well rounded to me) and you’ve clearly got the trapezoid covered, so I am going to try this long, skinny rectangle out for a bit & see how it feels!

    Tia–Isn’t it crazy we can idolize someone we really don’t want to be like?! Weird, huh? I once heard a speech about finding a mentor and the speaker said, “Don’t find someone whose job you want…find someone whose LIFE you want!” That got ME thinking!! Whose life do I want?! It wasn’t anyone I was working with at the time…that’s how I knew it was time to GO! Now I look for role models with lives WAY outside the boundaries of 9 to 5. My leadership mentor, for example, just tried out living in Spain for 3 months. Turned out it didn’t fit…but how great that she shaped her life in such a way she could try!! THAT is the kind of life I want!!!

  6. says

    What a great story. I love when this sort of thing happens. Life serves us up all kinds of lessons in many ways and I’m so glad you not only was open to this lesson from your friend but that you shared it. 😉

    I heard this today on a call:

    ‎”People will not let you teach them unless they think you understand them.”

    People need to hear what’s true in their lives at the time. I believe not only have you shared a valuable lesson but I’m sure the trust and connection your audience felt with you must have been amazing.


    Because you were real AND you brought a solution.

    Great work and good post!

  7. says


    Thanks for your comments! Today was actually the 2nd workshop of this kind that I’ve run (so of course I came back to revisit the blog!) Today’s session was totally different but just as valuable! People’s take on imbalance is ever changing and I walked away with new ways of thinking of imbalance (and not thinking it’s so bad!).

    The big topic for me today was moving. I sold my condo, have to be out by the end of the month and am relocating to LAS VEGAS!! I have a total sense of imbalance about the move (new city, totally new mentality/environment, don’t know many people, etc) but am also excited to be CHOOSING this new path.

    Sure, there is imbalance right now as I uproot my life, sell almost all I own and move out west. But I am able to find a sense of balance WITHIN that by seeing what the short term imbalance gets me in the long run (which happens to be living at 1/3 the cost I have been living, which will free up time I previously had to work to pay bills so that I can pursue my REAL dream of publishing my book & becoming a professional speaker). SO…the sleepless nights & frazzled days full of packing actually put a smile on my face as I think of my ultimate destination.

    Talking about that in the class today helped others see where they might find personal balance within imbalanced situations.

    YAY for that! And YAY for your comments…they are much appreciated!



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