Balance is a Delicate Thing

I’m sure you’ve lost count of how many times you have said that you want “balance.” It’s a common thing shared by my clients or session attendees when we talk about their goals. I was a “balance chaser” once myself, until I saw the light at a conference a few years ago.

The funny thing is that chasing balance will pretty much set you up for failure.

The notion of balance means that there is an equal distribution of energy, effort or importance.

When we try to give an equal amount of attention to everything, at least one area will suffer.

This is one of the things that can seriously derail your attempts to reach your goal.

Dan Thurmon Shines a Light

I attended a conference in 2012 that pretty much blew the lid off my notion of balance.

In his book Off Balance, On Purpose and on that stage, he taught a very important lesson.

He illustrated it by juggling different items. As he tossed each one up in the air, he named it after the core areas of our lives: Career, Family, Health, etc.

He demonstrated that at any given time, he only had two hands to “catch” an “area”. The others, were up in the air. He was able to juggle efficiently by controlling how high he tossed each thing. The higher the toss, the easier it is to catch others. The lower the toss, the more likely that something would fall. This is being off balance.

Now the lesson here is, when we are in our crazy busy lives, we think we can easily catch all these different things, and in chasing balance try to give them equal time, energy and importance. In doing this, we are off balance and off purpose.

But since we are limited in time, we have to make choices about how much time we invest in each thing. When we make a deliberate, conscious choice to prioritize the different areas of our lives, knowing that we might defer (aka toss) one to make sure we are focused on others, we are off balance, on purpose.

It’s Not Really Balance You’re Chasing

When someone tells me that they want “balance” I ask them to dig deeper and tell me what that looks like.

What usually comes out is that their notion of balance is equated with them being able to fit in the things that are important to them. By listing those things out, they realize that it’s not really balance that they’re after.

Folks are seeking quality outcomes from the things they invest their energy in. They want to organize their lives so they can prioritize things like spending time with family, going back to school or improving their health.

They are willing to put in as much time as needed, as long as they know that the payoff will be worth it.

Entrepreneurs will put in 60+ weeks without a complaint when they are working in their passion. Students will pull off all nighters when they are on the final leg of their program. Athletes will invest hours at the gym.

We don’t mind being off balance as long as we are clear on our purpose. Our purpose fills us with energy and puts us in the productivity zone.

What Does Being on Purpose Mean?

In the 2012 movie The Rise of the Guardians, Santa Claus asks Jack Frost a very important question: “What’s your center?”

I won’t spoil the movie for you (it’s a family favorite), but understanding your “center” is knowing your purpose. Your calling. Your driving force. It goes back to what Franklin Covey called our governing values in the famous Productivity Pyramid.

When you have clarity on your purpose and what that looks like in your day to day, it makes it easier to weed out the things that keep you off purpose.

When you know what motivates you, it makes it easy for you to set goals that really matter and stick with them when the going gets tough.

Having that clarity is key to this notion of being off balance but on purpose.

If you’re ready to focus on your purpose, join my Goal Getter Masterclass. We’re kicking off on March 6th.

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