For the past decade my bio on my google account has read "wearer of many hats." There really is no other way to succinctly define who I was and what I did. A wife, mom, sister, daughter, caretaker, entrepreneur, volunteer, health care advocate and the list goes on... On the outside it appeared all was under control but on the inside I was operating under a white knuckle death grip attitude of "I will drag you all kicking and screaming if necessary so that we do not fail."
Sounds perfectly balanced right?! And definitely sustainable....or not.
After a decade of enduring family trial after trial, rising to each challenge and riding the wave to the next challenge I had reached a tipping point. There was simply no more going on as things were. A friend told me that if you don't find your balance God will find it for you. And boy is that exactly what happened. All the balls I juggle, all the roles I had, began being stripped away. As I watched each ball drop out of my sphere of responsibility I began to realize that I was carrying so many things that were not mine to carry anymore. I looked at what was left in my hand to juggle and realized that the only things I was specifically called to care for were: my husband, my kids and my self. If those three things were failing what was the point of adding more to the mix?
And just like that i dropped every ball in my hand. The next year has been spent focusing on the three things that matter most and guess what....everything was ok! All the balls I thought I had to keep up in the air? Turns out I didnt. The world kept spinning without my managing them. It has been a season of joy and focus and amazing growth and yes even the illusive BALANCE.
So what did I learn during this season?
1. REDEFINE BALANCE. I used to think "balance" meant doing all the things and doing them well. That is not how I define balance any longer. Balance, for me and my family, means having the core things (the big 3 as listed above) thriving. Our life is very unpredictable and we need room for things to be in flux. That being said, I believe that when your core is healthy you can have space to focus elsewhere, as an emergency or unexpected event may require, without the entire thing falling apart.
What does a balanced life look like for you? Define it for yourself rather than holding yourself to someone else's standard. Balance could be less activities for your family, or a better mix of activities. Perhaps a balanced life has more meals at home, more down time for the kids. This is worth examining as it is really important. Re-Evaluate and then Redefine Balance for your family using your own words.
2. SHRINK YOUR APPROVAL LIST. The reality is we are all trying to make way too many people pleased with us. It needs to stop. Who are the people you are not willing to disappoint? It is impossible to keep the PTA President, the volunteer coordinator at church, your kids coaches, your girlfriends and your kids buddies all satisfied and not be letting down your kids or your husband. I tried and am here to tell you that it just doesn't work.
We have all heard that every time you say yes, you are saying no to something or someone else. The reality is that my kids and particularly my husband were coming in pretty low on my list of priorities. Now if you had asked me I would have of course said that they were top priority and I actually believed they were. But my actions reflected something else. I had a long list of people I was pleasing and the most important people were suffering as a result and it was time to change.
So I got comfortable with other people's disappointment. I had drawn a circle around those that mattered most, the ones I was no longer willing to compromise for and everything changed. Here is the current approval list:
1. God 2. Self & Husband 3.Kids
Who is on your approval list? Assess your calendar, your commitments because the reality of how you are spending your time speaks the most to your approval list. Decide today who SHOULD be on there and make the changes that requires.
3. STOP WORRYING ABOUT BEING HAPPY & START GOING AFTER JOY! This the Aha Moment. Why are we living what appear to be full lives and yet feeling displeased and unsettled? I have found that we spend a lot of time worrying about happiness...our happiness, our kids, our spouses and it is exhausting and unfulfilling! I love being happy so please don't get me wrong, I am not against happiness.
But this is essential....there is a HUGE difference between joy and happiness!
I have found we all intrinsically know there is a difference between the two. I would even say that most of us yearn for joy. The frustration comes when we seek happiness and then expect the joy pay off. Instead, focus on the joy and celebrate that. The deep yearning will be met, you will have strength to get through the tough seasons we all face and there will be a well spring in your life!
Joy vs Happiness is a big concept and I believe it is so important for us all to understand. I have created a quick start guide to diving into the difference between Joy and Happiness for you. It will help you really identify joy so that you can get after it and get celebrating!
Click below to grab yours for free!