Hello everybody, welcome to episode 149 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. We’re back with you today with a question whose answer I think serves as a reminder that we all need to hear about the choices we make – particularly choices that involve us living highly productive and busy lives. I’m getting ahead of myself though, no guarantee I can ever provide a coherent answer, after all. Let’s see what’s on this asker's mind with regard to struggling with balance, and try to do what we can…
QUESTION: “Currently, I'm struggling with balance. I am a mother, wife, animal owner, have a part time job, and am now a full time student. I feel like I'm not balancing everything as effectively as I could while also caring for my own needs.“
Going Back to Basics
Ok, there we have it. Very good one here. I think it’s of high importance to continue having conversations about the realities of living such busy lives and filling up our plates so much. I appreciate you sending this one in and addressing a topic that many people need to hear and talk more about.
I want to start by saying that I love how you’ve phrased this question. You said, “currently, I’m struggling with balance,” not “currently, I’m struggling to be the best mother, wife, animal owner, employee and student as possible.”
In seeking balance, you’re talking about going back to basics and being grounded, which I’m a huge advocate for.
Struggling with Balance: Your Needs vs. Sacrifices and Exhaustion
The trap that many others in your position fall into is demanding to excel in all of these areas and being unrealistic about the sacrifices and exhaustion involved, which ultimately leads to unfulfilled needs.
The fact that you’ve considered and brought your needs into the equation rather than brushing them off and assuming you can go on without them is really great.
Others might approach this in a way that insists on imbalance if it means getting promoted quickly or graduating with a 4.0.
They might decide to sleep less, not take the time to cook healthy foods, etc., but not you. If you want to stay in balance above all, then your needs have to come first.
Which they should, seeing as how they’ve always been there and always will once you strip away all the titles you have and hats you wear.
Bringing Your Whole Self
The fulfillment of your most basic and longstanding needs will serve as a strong undercurrent and foundation for you to progress slowly but surely in all the other areas of life, because if balance is what you seek, knowing that you are in control enough to take care of your most basic needs first will energize you and greatly improve your perception of having it all together.
I mean how well can you take care of your children, your husband, your animals, your studies and your career if you’re not bringing your whole self to the picture? The answer is: not very well.
And though many people try to do it, they often fail to see all of the little hindrances in their performances, because they sneak up over time and are hard to measure. Not to mention that it’s easy to make excuses for such a thing and rely on the nobility many of us find in working to the bone.
As Bane said to Batman in Dark Knight Rises, “You fight like a young man, with nothing held back. Honorable, but mistaken.”
Yeah, go to the other shows in the network for quotes from doctors and historical figures. I’ll stick to Tom Hardy.
Time and Action for Your Needs
Anyway, what you want to do is consciously acknowledge the needs of yours that have to be met and set aside time and set actions to meet them accordingly.
You might want to check into one of our many past episodes about habit formation if this process is tough for you. From there, prioritize the rest of the things you need to do in your life in descending order after your needs, take care of the most important stuff first, and make as much time as you can for the rest of it.
Being very precise in this process, like planning how, when and where you’re going to perform all your tasks will help a lot. Being organized takes away from a lot of wasted brainpower in trying to shove everything together. As someone who’s naturally messy, I’ve silently made the transition into more organization and have no regrets.
Beyond that, there’s no magic wand here. Hopefully rearranging and planning everything you need to do accordingly will help you do everything you want to, and if you run out of time, at least it’ll be the least important things to be left behind.
But there’s no secret way around choosing a life of hyper productivity and responsibility.
Time and Action for Your Needs
Don’t get me wrong, stockpiling your day with all the things you have is by no means a bad thing, but like every single thing in life, productivity comes with pros and cons.
The price to pay for getting a lot accomplished is having less free time, and there’s only so much of both you can have. Don’t try to self-help your way out of this reality – it’s much easier to acknowledge it and be deliberate about the sacrifices you’re willing to make through your choices.
If your goal is a lot of productivity with as much balance as possible – it’ll mean allowing yourself more time for your needs, and less time to totally excel at all of the other avenues, but still enough to do them well enough.
This is more than fine; there’s no need to obsess over being the best at all of the paths you’ve chosen.
Struggling with Balance: Maximize Your Resources
Now, I do want to finish on a more optimistic note – a realistic one that is. Not here to feed you lies and false hope.
While you can’t cheat your way around necessary sacrifice, it’s also true that many of us fail to maximize our resources, which is something I encourage you to do now, and continue to revisit as your resources and responsibilities change. This isn’t hard to do, it just requires a little digging on your part. I ask that you take a good look at all the potential help you could be getting and make sure that you’re at least asking for it.
The obvious one would be your spouse.
Be sure that they’re pulling their weight in terms of keeping the house running, taking care of your children and pets.
Being that relationships are a two way street, I also advise that you ask them exactly what they need from you. If you can get clear about their needs that they need you to help them meet, you can hone your time with them around fulfilling those needs before expending extra energy on less vital and unnecessary extras. Yes, this may mean cutting out some of the cute stuff from time to time.
This isn’t to say that your partner should be the one to receive less from you, but if you can be sure to prioritize their needs in terms of your time spent with them, you’ll be doing the best you can for both of you.
As your spouse who decided you were cool enough to be stuck with through thick and thin, it’s important that they’re flexible and understanding of your limited time during this uniquely busy phase of your relationship.
Beyond that, maybe your children are old enough to start helping out with your animal.
Maybe your parents or siblings can babysit more often. If your part time job is not in the same discipline as your area of study, maybe get one that is so you’re learning and preparing a little extra while still spending the same amount of time.
The list goes on, and it’s up to you to explore it fully and get creative about how you can make the most of all the things you’ve chosen to put in your life. And there are many things, but you can do it.
You’re already asking the right questions and recognizing the importance of balance. That’s at least half the battle.
Ok, everyone. A question that I really enjoyed answering today, and that I’d like to thank the asker once more for sending. I do apologize if it came off as bleak and uninspiring at times, but I tried to answer as honestly as I could, and frankly, I don’t think the honesty of the answer leaves all that much to be uninspired about. Hopefully you agree.
And hopefully you’ll continue sending question on in to us. We love them all, so don’t hesitate.
If you’ve got something on your mind that you think we could help with, please email us your question at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
I thank you for supporting the show. And I thank you for being you. Talk to you guys next time.