The myth of balance (and how to get what you're really after)
"What happens when all of the life balance hacks don’t yield our desired results? (You know that life balance is a total myth, right? It’s the biggest self-help sham ever.) Or when we do get what we set out to achieve but we feel kind of empty when we get it? Well, then we just criticize ourselves even more harshly.”
—Danielle LaPorte, White Hot Truth
Balance is a myth.
Let’s just settle on that now. Between work life, home life, relationships, self-care, vacation time, parenting duties, schooling, exercise routines, and all of the other activities and responsibilities that fill our lives, it is not possible to achieve true balance.
And, according to iPEC President Luke Iorio, that shouldn’t be the goal anyway.
In a recent podcast interview with Olivia Berkman on the Balance Sheet, Luke shared some hard truths about balance, meditation, and self-care, and how each of these are a means to an end—the true goal of fulfillment.
A lot of people view balance as the scales of justice, trying to keep each scale, well... balanced, in the hope that one won’t offset the others. People become burnt out on balance based on this unrealistic interpretation. Luke suggests a different metaphor to reframe how we view balance in our lives.
Balance, he says, is more like surfing. Waves are crashing and rolling in a way which is more illustrative and realistic for how life and nature are. On the board, the surfer is feeling through the changes and the evolutions of the wave, and sometimes he falls off the board. Accepting this reality helps us be more apt to jump back on the board when this happens.
Simplification Over Complication
It’s working against us if we try to equally portion off all areas of our life.
“So much of balance actually comes from a process of simplification as opposed to complication.”
Looking for that new productivity hack? Blocking out your calendar to stay on top of things? Anything we do that we believe is going to give us a perceived control over our schedule or over our life is the type of activity that we believe leads us toward balance.
Perceived control being the operative phrase.
What are the things we are doing to try to produce balance? We’re doing all of these things, when actually, we should stop doing. Introduce more silence and stillness; be present to the experience we’re in.
“If you are feeling discord, dissonance, inside your body... if you can feel that knot, it’s a good sign of being out of balance.”
Or, to put it more plainly, you might be feeling out of alignment with your vision of fulfillment. Balance is the strategy to achieve that goal of fulfillment.
Create clarity for the vision of your life and simplify your life so that only what supports that vision remains.
“Life has its own rules. Life is not going to correspond to the way we divide up our calendar. It’s going to break, it’s going to roll, it’s going to crash. Balance to me is actually being able to ride that and do so in a way that actually has a bit of fun and engagement and joy in it.”