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?
LOTS OF PEOPLE!!
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.
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!