Balance is often sold to us as something we should all be striving for in life.
Seriously, how often do you read headlines of articles promising to help you finally achieve work-life balance?
But what if balance isn’t something we should be striving for? In fact, what if there’s no such thing as perfect balance at all?
In this post, I’m sharing why I stopped reaching for balance in my life and what I strive for instead.
Why a Balanced Life is Overrated (and What Strive For Instead)
What is a Balanced Life?
Balance as we generally think about it is a state of equilibrium between the different areas of your life.
Imagine a world where you have equal time and energy to devote to each part of your life: your job, your family, your friends, your personal development, your home, your hobbies, etc.
That’s the picture of balance we usually envision.
Why a Balanced Life is Overrated
A balanced life doesn’t account for work
We all have to work to pay bills. And for most of us, that means showing up and working for someone else for 40+ hours per week.
Once you’ve worked 8 hours per day in your career, it’s simply not realistic to go home and give the same level of time and energy to the other areas of your life.
I don’t know about you, but when I get home from work at 5:30 or 6 during the week, I don’t have another 8-9 hours to give to everything else!
A balanced life doesn’t leave room to go after your goals
When you’re going after a big goal, it’s simply not realistic to devote the same amount of time and energy to that goal as you do to the other areas of your life.
It requires more time and energy!
Let’s say you’re working on building a business. Can you imagine limiting yourself to one evening per week of working on your business, simply because you wanted to make sure your hobbies, your relationship, your family, your friends, and your home all got just as much attention?
You would not end up with a successful business. Building a business, or achieving any other huge goal, means going off-balance and making sacrifices in other areas of your life to make it happen.
A balanced life creates unnecessary guilt
The pressure to live a balanced life creates so much unnecessary guilt, especially for women.
We have this vision that we should be able to make time to have a successful career, have a healthy relationship, have children and be a present parent, exercise, eat healthy, keep our homes clean, and achieve a certain standard of beauty.
And all of that is before we’ve even made time for our own friendships or personal development.
And often, when just one thing is missing from that puzzle, we feel as if we’re being judged by society and by our peers.
Friends, this is freaking crazy. And it’s just another reason why the idea of “balance” just isn’t realistic.
What to Strive for Instead of Balance
Set clear priorities
It’s so, so important to set clear priorities in your life. Then you can use these priorities as a guide for how you should be spending your time.
Your priorities will change throughout your life, depending on what phase of your life you’re currently in.
During some phases, your education will be a priority. During others, it will be your career. And then you may have other phases where your family is your priority. Or maybe a huge goal you’re working toward.
Write your priorities down and put them somewhere you’ll see them regularly, so you can use them as a guide as you plan each and every day.
This will allow you to be so much more intentional with your time!
For most of us, our lives will always be off-balance, as we intentionally devote more time and energy to our real priorities and goals.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to enforce the priorities you’ve set in your life.
Other people and other parts of your life will push back and try to take more time than you really want to devote.
That might mean friends who want more of your time when you’re trying to build your business.
Or it might mean a boss encouraging you to work longer hours when your priority right now is your family.
It’s going to be really hard sometimes. There are going to be times when you feel a lot of pressure to spend time and energy on things that aren’t important for you.
This is the time to commit to yourself and to your boundaries.
Know that no season lasts forever
During each season of our life, our priorities are different and we put a lot more time and energy into different parts of our lives.
During college, I spent nearly all of my time either in class or studying, working, or spending time with friends. Not much time was devoted to self-care, my health, or even sleep.
There have also been times where my career has gotten most of my time and energy, with other parts taking the back seat.
Whatever season you’re in, whether it’s one that feels really amazing or really hard, just know that it’s temporary and things will shift soon enough.
As you can see, creating a balanced life isn’t necessary. And honestly, it’s probably not even possible.
What is possible, and what’s a lot better in the long-run, is creating a fulfilling life where you prioritize the things you most enjoy and that are most important to you.