I live on a small lake and share the surrounding beauty with a variety of water fowl. Yesterday I delighted in watching a black swan perched on a rock. He balanced on one leg while enjoying the soft current cascading over his webbed foot. A small white egret-like bird stood less than two feet away as if in silent companionship. Both soaked in the sun’s rays, practicing silence and taking pleasure in the serene setting.
As I absorbed the simplicity of this tableau, it made me think of the path to happiness. Balance in life theoretically yields peace and contentment. But it’s the balance part we find so difficult to achieve! Many individuals fail to balance career and home life, relationships and commitments, downtime and party central. Much of my coaching practice is devoted to helping clients create the magic formula to win the balancing act.
Cracking the code on this dilemma is not as difficult as it seems. My “go to” strategies are simple and straight forward. For example, how does a young, single woman study for her CPA exam while trying to cram in dating, stellar work performance, family obligations and quiet time? Sounds daunting, I know, especially to her. It is doable, but requires organization and prioritization. If earning her CPA designation is a priority, she must commit to it. Numerous hours must be devoted to study time. That means sacrifice, of course. Date nights, happy hours with friends and shopping excursions with her sisters must be limited. She needs to make peace with the fact that a rigorous study schedule is temporary. Once the exam is passed, she can resume the activities of choice, however, she cannot put those three letters behind her name without planning. The X in my equation equaling happiness is planning. To enjoy a balanced life, plan your days, your nights and weekends.
Wondering what composes the Y part of my equation? It involves our decision making process when others make demands on our time. If you love college football and want nothing more than to spend a few leisure hours watching the Saturday line-up, you must learn to say no to the friend who implores you to go golfing.
Easier than is sounds? Yes. Standing on one leg may come naturally to our swan. Human beings require dedicated practice when it comes to planning and drawing boundaries. This week, keep working on my equation: Planning + setting boundaries = a happy balanced life.