I’ve read books and articles and listened to podcasts on creating balance in your life. I struggled with the concept for years and have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk about why you should stop chasing balance in your life.
Why you should stop chasing balance in your life
As someone who loves time management and creating routines, I’ve also read a lot about the concept of finding balance in your life. For years I tried to chase it, but I never felt that I’d achieved it.
And I now believe there is no such thing. Balance is a myth. So if you are chasing it, you are chasing something that isn’t real. Here’s why.
Definition of balance
The definition of balance is “a state where things are of equal weight or force” (source).
There is also a definition of work-life balance which is “the amount of time you spend doing your job compared to the amount of time you spend with your family and doing the things you enjoy.” (source)
I loved that the example sentence for work-life balance is: “it can be difficult to get the right work-life balance.”
After reading those definitions, does that sound at all attainable? It doesn’t to me. Let’s explore some further reasons why you should stop chasing balance in your life.
Life is always moving
Life isn’t static. It’s constantly moving and changing and so are you and your circumstances. Today is different than yesterday and tomorrow will be different than today.
Chasing balance is like trying to jump onto a moving platform. Your target is constantly moving as is the world you are in.
How you’d define balance today is likely different than what you would have said a year ago and again what it will look like a year from now.
Even trying to define what balance is can be a challenge. How do you decide what is enough or too much of various aspects of your life?
It begins to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to achieve balance. Balance sounds like it should be relaxing if achieved, but I’m inclined to think the constant attempts to make things equal would be anything but.
Sometimes goals need to be simplified and life needs to be slowed and so do our expectations. Life is constantly changing and in different seasons life demands different things.
Seasons of life
We all experience seasons of life. When I first got married it was a new season where my priorities shifted. How I spent my time changed suddenly.
After having kids, my priorities shifted as did my schedule. Self-care did not take center stage. Life felt a bit more like survival than trying to strike any type of balance.
Productivity during the season of mothering an infant looked very different. My goal was to try and sleep enough to be able to function the next day to take care of my baby. There certainly wasn’t any balance then.
There are so many messages about what motherhood should look like. The culture is constantly telling moms they aren’t enough. They need a side hustle or side gig and that being a mom isn’t enough. But there is zero truth in it.
As if the normal expectations of motherhood weren’t enough, in recent months there’s been another shift. Kids came home to do school. Parents came home to work in many cases.
My husband is now working from home. I am still trying to work from home too while parenting the kids. It’s an unexpected new season.
Another season could come with caring for elderly parents. In other cases, illness strikes and the focus becomes on trying to get well during that season.
Stop chasing balance in your life. There is none to be achieved especially during some of these challenging seasons.
Sets you up for failure
Trying to achieve balance in your life is a lot like seeking perfection. This goal sets you up for failure because it’s not possible.
Balance is often an idea put on us from other people. It’s about what they expect a balanced life should look like. It could also be our own false expectations of what we think we should be able to do.
If you’re anything like me, those expectations are often unrealistic and even unhealthy. I’m guilty of expecting too much of myself. I think I should be able to do all the things and do them all well.
When you’re expectations are that high, you’re bound to fail. If you tend to be hard on yourself it causes you to beat yourself up for not doing things well enough.
Chasing an elusive sense of balance doesn’t help. It sets you up for unrealistic expectations and feelings of failure. Stop chasing balance in your life. Try these ideas instead.
Stop chasing balance & do this instead
Now that we’ve looked at why to stop chasing balance let’s look at what to do instead.
I’ve found that women are particularly hard on themselves. Instead of chasing unrealistic expectations or ideals, allow yourself grace.
As a mom, my attention is constantly being pulled in multiple directions. I try to make sure I keep up with the house and preparing meals while also working and trying to be available to my kids. It can be a lot some days.
Motherhood has taught me the importance of being patient with myself. It’s often not easy for me as I’m naturally a driven person who loves making progress.
I’m learning to have more grace for myself. I need to be ok on the days when I don’t get all the things I wanted to done (which is honestly still most of them).
My kids notice everything. I want them to have a mom who is confident in who she is but also gracious with herself. I love that they know I work hard, but that I am also still there for them.
We lead by example. One of my girls tends to be hard on herself. I don’t want to model that for her. I want her to learn how to be kind to herself, but to do that I have to be kind to myself.
Allow for give & take
With the changing seasons in life priorities shift. It’s important to accept that during some seasons things will fall by the wayside because they just can’t be a priority now.
We only get so many hours each day. There is no changing that. Allow for the give and take that happens during the various seasons with different demands on your life.
The times people are most tempted to chase balance is when life feels off kilter. And if you’ve been sensing that, it’s worth looking into why you’re feeling that way and what can be done about it.
Make sure to declutter your commitments if you’re feeling overcommitted. You want to make sure that what you are doing is for the right reasons.
But even with decluttering your schedule it may be that during this season you are having to spend more than you’d like on something. And that can mean having to let go of other things.
It may also mean some of your standards need to be lowered for a time. Your home may not look the way you want. You may not be able to prepare meals the way you’d want.
And that’s ok. When you stop chasing balance, you realize that life is give and take. More of your attention may be required in one area for a time.
You may need more help and that’s ok too. Stop telling yourself you should be able to do it all.
Do small acts of self-care
During the more stressful seasons in life, it can be hard to make time for you. For moms often the first thing to go is self-care.
Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Even though you may feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, you need to take some time for you.
Self-care can be simple and free. In the midst of the busier seasons, don’t lose yourself or get burned out.
Take a moment to slow down and stay present in your life. Otherwise, it will feel like life is happening to you rather than you living it. You deserve better.
Practice gratitude & focus on the positive
So much of life is about perspective. It’s amazing how different the same situation can feel when you choose to look at it differently.
You are not a victim. You have control over your life even if you may not be able to choose all of your circumstances. Some time management challenges can be improved with creative solutions.
Be willing to think outside the box. In other cases, there may not be a solution. It may mean just needing to hang in there through the season. As you do so, your experience will be much better if you focus on the positive.
You can choose gratitude even in difficult circumstances. Your outlook may not change your situation, but it will change you.
If you want to be happier, stop chasing balance and learn to embrace the different seasons with grace, acceptance, and gratitude.
Want to keep up with The Simplicity Habit? Sign up on the form below to get weekly tips on simplifying and decluttering sent to your inbox. You’ll also get the 8 Quick Decluttering Wins checklist to help you get started.