We often hear about the importance of balance, yet sometimes we can’t achieve our goals and stay balanced too. When we add a new activity to move us closer to our goals, the time and energy have to come from somewhere. Sacrifices must be made, and for me, that usually means upsetting the delicate balance of my life for a season.
Recently my husband and I decided now is the time for him to attend graduate school. He works full-time and we have a house and four kids to take care of, not to mention connections with friends and community groups to maintain. Still, education is important to us, so we decided to go out of balance, on purpose, to make it work. It means my husband will be much less available and the tasks and activities he normally does will have to be put on hold or picked up by someone else. We will definitely be out of balance in how we spend our time, our money, and our energy. But it won’t last forever and the investment will be worth it.
Living out of balance takes a toll. Like forgetting to balance or rotate the tires on your car, an out of balance life wears us down faster and makes the ride a little rough. So when we go out of balance on purpose, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Define the goal. The choice to go out of balance should be based on a clearly defined goal. What is it you are working to accomplish and how will you know when you achieve it?
2. Make it temporary. Living out of balance indefinitely is dangerous to your health, your relationships, and the quality of your life. It is important to set parameters for how long you will be out of balance. For example, I set aside a month to finish a book project. My husband’s graduate degree will take two years for him to complete. We know there is an endpoint to living out of balance.
3. Plan on pit stops. When a goal will take more than a few days to achieve, it is important to plan time to rest and reconnect. If you are in school, you might take summers off. If you are working a lot to earn a promotion or grow your business, set aside some weekends or other time to spend with family or friends so you stay in touch.
4. Build in safeguards. Sometimes going out of balance has bigger consequences than we can anticipate. Staying out of balance too long or going out of balance frequently can have very negative effects. So create a plan for evaluating how it’s going and make adjustments as needed. My husband and I regularly talk about how his school is going so he can share his burdens and get feedback about how the kids and I are handling his schedule.
5. Celebrate the process. Celebrating along the way helps us keep our focus on the prize and reminds us why the sacrifices are worth it. With my husband I school, we celebrate the little things like finishing a class or even just an assignment. Each step in reaching a goal is worth recognizing as an accomplishment.
What about you? What life goals or projects are taking you out of balance?