Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What is Balance.....?

This topic is coming up time and time again, in my coaching of others and in my own life too.
So, what is balance?
What does it mean to you?
Clients often ask me, do you mean work/life balance?

In this blog I am going to have a stab of defining what it is and what it isn't - a balanced view perhaps! Unusual for me, don't you think!

So, here goes.. Balance is part of Self-awareness, it is your ability to keep a healthy balance in the midst of the conflicting pressures of adult life - between business and family, activity and reflection, work and leisure. It is a measure of your tendency to self-renew and to be fueled by creative tension, which is the tension that gets created when you can see a way to achieve your values based vision. As opposed to the more common tension that creates stress and pressure which is unhealthy and self destructive.

As adults we lead complicated lives and we do not have to be Martyrs or Victims of that - we do not need to let the complications and circumstances of our lives make the decisions for us. It is true that we get trained as kids and young adults on how to react and respond to the circumstances in front of us, so, no surprise really that we become masters and responding to the circumstances that others create. When you have a Values based vision of the future that you are committed to and that you believe in, this is the first step to creating the circumstances you want in your life. It is about stepping up to take charge of your life, as opposed to being 'in Control' - what ever that overused and misused phrase actually means!

What does being 'in control' mean to you?
Are we ever 'in control' of anything other than ourselves?
What about 'taking charge' of your life instead? How would that be different?
In my work and in my experience, those of us who want to be 'in control' are the ones who are actually controlling.... who don't trust themselves, and therefore by default others to do the job.
They spend endless hours being busy and actually not getting very much done.
Taking charge means you know what the end goal is, you know what the impact is you want to have and you are both willing to role your sleeves up to help make things happen, as well as being willing to delegate to others to ensure the job gets done. I could write about this distinction between these two for hours, so I will leave it there for now.

Back to balance......
If you have a healthy balance in your life, you are able to handle the stress of life without losing yourself. You are able to maintain high performance and an inner balance or compass by integrating the various aspects of your life.

As a leader in your life you put your attention on your needs for self-renewal, family and leisure as well as work in order to be fulfilled and to maximise your impact, at home and work!
For health, true balance is needed, that is, time for reflection, diet, physical exercise. You know that values are often in competition requiring divided attention to spontaneity and control, family and work life, leisure and career, duty to others and personal development.

Balance means that you have your conscious attention on physical well being, commitment to wholeness and on good time management to avoid the damaging effects of stress. Good balance aids you in remaining calm, considerate and in making good decisions under pressure. You are also aware of the bigger picture in terms of your relationships with others and the wider system you live in....

Here are some of the things that help you maintain balance
- keeping things in perspective
- finding time for personal reflection and renewal
- maintaining a balance between work and family and work and leisure
- practicing good health habits around exercise and diet
- handling stress and pressure well
- demonstrating a high level of maturity
- knowing that work performance is about behaviour and not indentity
- being willing to say no
- being willing to question and debate things
- having clear boundaries between work and home and work and health
- using the 80/20 rule
- knowing you are more than good enough and that your intentions are good

Where is your life in balance?
What are your boundaries?
What single habit could you change that would have the biggest impact on the balance in your life?
What are you making more important than balance?
What ever that is, is it helping you create the circumstances you want in your life?

Here is a place to look - start to notice your habits around work, start and stop times, who controls your diary?
When do you book time for reflection? How do you prioritise your workload?
How do you used tools like email to help you do your job, as opposed to being a slave to them.

Spend about a week, simply noticing and let me know what you notice!