How to Maintain Balance

bicycle quoteAs I consider the times I’ve found myself out of balance, which is more than I like to admit, I realize that I only become imbalanced when I fail to adjust. When I neglect making adjustments as my life changes and as struggles arise, I lose my balance and fall over.

The answer, then, to how to maintain balance, involves making constant adjustments, to continually finding a new normal as circumstances change with the seasons of life. This requires honesty with yourself along with humility to admit the need to adjust. As we learn to live in this constant state of adjustment, which is really what balance is all about, we’ll find that we continually improve in our ability to balance.

Adjusting for Balance

Making the following adjustments on a regular basis helps me stay consistently balanced. That doesn’t necessarily mean I am always balanced… but I certainly live there more frequently the more I consistently practice these habits:

  1. cyclists dismountSlow but don’t stop. Refuse to give up and quit. Take time to slow down and rest if necessary, but keep moving forward.
  2. Maintain focus. Establish core values and align focus daily.
  3. Be a team player. Don’t attempt balance alone. Have regular accountability.
  4. Evaluate regularly. From work commitments to relationships, make sure priorities stay properly ordered.
  5. Find ways to simplify. Life is chaotic enough on its own; refuse to add complication.
  6. Be yourself. Balance and simplicity are unique to the individual. Find your balance. Find your simple. Find your normal.
  7. Know yourself. Find your niche, not someone else’s. Dan Erickson’s post “why you can’t have what your neighbor has” can help shed light on this idea.
  8. Avoid comparisons. I can always find someone better and worse at balance, but neither does anything to help me stay balanced.

All too often, I go from simply trying to balance the various elements in my life to juggling them. Trying to balance and juggle at the same time is hard; in fact, I can’t do it. Can you? Yet all too often that’s exactly where we live. It’s a place where I’m not just trying to keep my life balanced, but I’m also tossing appointments and commitments and projects and people around like juggling balls. In this place, I’m losing the strength and ability, the margin I need, to adjust for consistent balance.

But when I continually adjust for balance, I’m better able to discover and live a harmonious life. And in that harmony exists the margin of peace amidst chaos. Try it… I know you’ll like it there.

DISCUSSION: How do you adjust for balance? If you feel like a circus act both juggling and balancing, what can you change to move toward less chaos?

Recently, Bill Grandi at Cycle Guy’s Spin ran a series called Second Chances. In it, I wrote about my struggle with depression. Through a series of questions and emails, Bill asked if I would consider writing more about my struggle and how I (with God’s help) overcame it. He sent me some questions, and we decided to run it as sort of an interview. Due to length, it is divided into five conversations. Here’s the link to the first one and the second one. The third will come next week.

14 thoughts on “How to Maintain Balance

  1. Good thoughts today Kari. I'm curious though about the pictures. The one with the quote I understand and whoieheartedly agree with. But the one about dismounting confuses me. 🙂 How can I get up or down the hill if I dismount?
    My recent post Robots

    • Somehow I knew the pictures would catch your eye. Well, how would you answer your own, "How would you get up the hill if you dismount?" The answer is to get off and walk. I couldn't think of how else to emphasize the first point, to rest when necessary. Sometimes, we need a break from the constant adjusting and balancing. Sometimes, we need to get off and walk to gain our strength or to get through the difficult part. Of course, a cyclist like you would be determined to beat the hill, right?

  2. Good points, Kari. I really like the know yourself one. I feel like I know my niche as far as writing goes, but still need to figure out how I work best. One thing I did yesterday was really helpful. I made a commitment to renew my mind every time I got the least frazzled about writing – in the past I've sometimes put off renewing my time for work issues because i haven't wanted to take the time to do it. But I'm learning that I have to do that if I want to keep God first as I write. Well, yesterday went great! I think I only had to renew my mind two or three times and worked in peace all day. Today I've only had to renew my mind once and have been in general more peaceful.

    I think this could be the key for me. Which is funny since I've been saying it's the key for a long time on my blog. It's just that it looks different with different issues and for me for work, it's renew my mind the minute I get frazzled even a little bit – then it doesn't every go into being really stressed. I'm also reading Matt Perman's new book and really enjoying that.
    My recent post When You Feel Like You Will NEVER Break That Habit

    • You're realizing the power of keeping short accounts in every area of life. That way, nothing gets so big that it seems impossible to handle. Plus, it takes less time and effort to handle when it's small. You're finding your unique way in this, Barb, and that's the key. No two people will have exactly the same journey. We get ideas and inspiration from others, maybe even motivation, but we have to find our way on our own… well, it's between you and God anyway. I'm reading Perman's book too. Plan on pulling from it for a couple of teachings I'm doing in the next few months. Good stuff!

  3. I agree Kari, constant adjustments are essential to maintaining balance. Do you find it harder to stay balanced when people in your family are trying to juggle or balance too much? I find balance is easier now that my schedule is completely my own. I also think avoiding comparisons is an important point. When we try to keep up with someone else – we can end up trying to function outside of our gifts which is a sure way to end up out of balance.
    My recent post Nine Ways to Celebrate National Forgiveness Day

    • Well, Deb, you just opened up a can of worms a bit for me in that I have a lot to say about the questions you asked. I'll try to be succinct though… Yes, it's definitely harder to stay balanced when people in my family are trying to juggle or balance too much. My husband and I have been deliberately trying to teach our kids not to have too much going, to schedule down time, and to maintain balance. Our youngest errs on the side of not enough to do. He tends to be too lazy and not balance his time with constructive activity. We're hoping it's just 13-year-old selfishness that he'll grow out of. Our oldest is 15 and a perfectionist. He loves to have a lot of activities and to do the all with excellence. He's a 4.0 student too. We have to really make sure he builds in down time. Up until he was in high school, we controlled it a little more. This past year, we've been letting him manage his own schedule a bit more. Only had to step in a couple of times, including when he managed to get his summer pretty packed. Fortunately, he's also very teachable and responded well to our suggestions. With him, we suggest a change once, and he generally does it. The youngest, not so much. Now, my husband is just like our oldest son. He gets too busy too easily. Also an over-achiever. He allows me to voice when I think he's getting too balanced, and he generally response well to what I say. I said all this to say that we really try to communicate as a family so that not just the individual members stay balanced but the family unit as a whole stays balanced. I feel like right now their schedules ARE my schedule; they are not separate things. I'll have that all too soon when they graduate. So, if we look at balance that way, my helping them stay balanced keeps me more balanced. It's just not separate from my own balance at the moment. Sure, to some extent, but not completely. I also agree that comparisons are very dangerous. My husband and I are again two good examples. I learned about 10 years into our marriage that we relax in very different ways. He's a very busy when he relaxes. There's not much movement when I relax. Also, he can go and go a lot more than me and function on less sleep and less down time. I need a lot more down time than the average person. Also, my highly sensitive system simply needs less stimulation; otherwise, it goes haywire. I've actually got some upcoming posts getting at that. Anyway, you really hit at some good points on this topic. I thought I had gotten at it pretty thoroughly only to find out there's a lot more there yet to talk about. Thanks!

  4. Balance has gotten easier for me as i have aged. I know what helps me on a daily bases to maintain balance. So for me learning about me and what I need was a huge wave a growth for me. Also I don't sweat the small things anymore, I pick my battles a little more carefully. Yet in all this knowledge and learning I still find myself out of balance at times. Right now is one of those times. I can't fix it all because this out of balance time is not just about me. I have to retreat for a while, an hour or two in the day to think things through and try to put some order to them. Being able to order my day and built into it a time of rest is important for me all the time realizing there are days I cannot do that, my day is being controlled by others. In those days I can get frustrated till I realize it's God who really ordered that upset in my order. I chose to see it as an on going process and not an ongoing problem. Good post Kari. God has given you wisdom and I am so glad you are sharing it with all of us.
    My recent post Testing, Testing, Testing

    • I totally get the need for frequent periods of rest, Betty. I build those into my schedule as much as possible. When there are days I won't get it, I make sure it's available at some point in the next 24 hours, and it really helps keep me motivated just knowing I have down time coming. For some reason, just knowing I'll have the time to mentally process life helps me deal with it better in the busier times. It truly is hard when our day is controlled and impacted by others. That's why building in down time when we can is so important. When we work in those times for focusing on God and getting His peace central in our spirits, we can better handle the chaos of life, even handle them with peaceful attitudes. No, we're not 100%, and we do lose balance every so often, but we keep getting back up and trying again. Thanks, Betty.

  5. From a physical standpoint sometimes it takes a lot of muscles to maintain balance in a tough situation. Sometimes it takes focus and not a lot of effort except to keep things lined up. Also physically the more you practice a move to keep it in balance the better you get. I am sure from a spiritual standpoint all of these things are true as well.
    Your 8 points are all important and needed.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story and suggestions Kari. I agree that juggling is not the same as balancing. I sometimes feel more like a juggler than I like. Balance can come hard, but it is worth the effort. With God all things are possible!

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