If you were to ask someone about their struggles, their response would likely include "struggling to find balance in life.”
In addition to working full time, your average person is trying to be present in all of their relationships, stay active, drink enough water, maintain a social life, and pursue their dreams.
It’s a lot.
As the pressure and demand builds, our to-do lists get longer and we find ourselves feeling like hamsters on a wheel trying to keep up.
As a result, we’re burnt out, anxious, depressed, and tired. And we’re not thinking, “I need rest” or “I need help.”
We’re so conditioned to grind culture that we’re trying to figure out how to do it all. Or as we like to call it, “find balance.”
Well....I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but there is no such thing as balancing it all.
As the saying goes, you can do anything, but not everything.
Shonda Rhimes was more frank stating, “anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.” (I cosign this.)
So, give yourself permission to step off of the wheel for a moment as we explore more sustainable alternatives to balancing it all.
3 Alternatives to
This is a popular one. We know we need them, but we’re scared to implement them.
Because boundaries threaten our sense of acceptance and belonging. Both of these support our very human core need for connection.
Try thinking of it this way, boundaries are how much you are willing to give of yourself without compromising your wellbeing. Without them, we become bitter and resentful.
Another thing that complicates boundaries is that they are twofold because you have to set them, then enforce them.
Have a plan in place for accountability. Some may push back because they’re not used to the boundary. This is an opportunity to teach people how to treat you.
Here’s my suggestion for creating boundaries instead of seeking balance.
Start with the path of least resistance. What’s a boundary you can set that is the least intimidating?
Also, try this framework when communicating a boundary.
We’re trying to do it all because somewhere in our minds we believe we are falling short if we don’t.
Be honest with yourself for a moment. What is the story you are telling yourself when you think about not doing all of the things?
Does it mean you’re not good enough? Are you afraid you’ll be judged or punished?
Sometime in our past, we’ve created these stories based on our prior experiences. We call them self-limiting beliefs. Once you are aware of that barrier, try to reframe it into something more truthful and helpful.
“I will give myself the grace I give to others.” or “My worth is not attached to my work.”
That, my love, is self-compassion.
According to Dr. Krisin Neff, a lead researcher on self-compassion, self-compassion is the practice of being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Although often misunderstood to mean arrogance, laziness, lack of accountability, and/or feeling sorry for yourself, Dr. Neff’s research shows people who practice self-compassion actually suffer less and have more resilience and optimism.
Need some help to get started?
Try thinking of what you’d say to a good friend who shared they felt what you are feeling. Or, what would you say to your 4-year-old self when overwhelmed.
Now, say that to yourself. Treat yourself with the kindness and grace you’d show a friend or that you needed as a child.
Ask for Help
This is another opportunity to explore your core beliefs.
There’s been a trend of individualism in Western society. We’ve begun to attach our value to our productivity. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor.
Do you view asking for help as a weakness or are you afraid others may?
Reframe those thoughts into something true and helpful like, “It’s okay to ask for help or “Delegation isn’t failure.”
Next, identify your support system.
Lastly, determine what you can delegate.
As Brene’ Brown puts it, “We don’t have to do it alone. We were never meant to.”
Bringing it all
There’s a key piece to bringing all of this together.
If you follow my work, then you know I talk about values all. of. the. time.
I truly believe that identifying and leaning into your core values allows you to show up as your best self. Honoring them means getting intentional about making choices that allow you to prioritize what matters by setting boundaries, being kind to yourself, and asking for help when you need it.
By the way, did you notice the common theme in my suggestions?
Here’s a hint: It starts with self and ends with care.
Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being. Keywords: practice and active. Self-care is something you do. It’s not a perfect science because we’re not perfect people. But if you can create some semblance of consistency, then you will see and feel more peace and purpose in your life.
Just because you have the ability to do something does not mean you have the capacity to.