Balance is the word in vogue today – no matter who you are, what you do, where you live, which culture you are in, when you work, whether you are man or woman, single or married, studying or working etc. We live in a world of multiple responsibilities, tasks, opportunities and options. We want to stay, we want to work, we want to play, we want to raise a family, we want to have a career, we want to earn well, we want to accumulate assets, we want to save and we also want to spend. The biggest question is not just, how do I balance the budget (which, by the way, is a big task in itself!), but HOW DO I BALANCE LIFE per se!
Within this world, we need to live life to the fullest, not just exist. Life, in its most stable form, is full of day-to-day duties and movements with myriad facets and forms. Add to this, the changes that occur (expected and unexpected), relationships that add colour (black, white and all ones in between!), emotions that ride high or low, expectations that wax or wane and dreams that tantalize with their fulfillment or their denial. What you have is a full cup.
Now top up this full cup with the search for reality, identity, significance, worldview and a framework that interprets it all to make sense. It’s more than enough to throw a person!
So what I do with what I have been given? How do I manage the constraints that I am forced to live in? Is there a way to enjoy life? Without tearing myself apart? Or losing the essence of who I am?
Life is a circus in which I have to do tightrope or high wire act. Life is a gymnastics arena in which I have to tackle the narrow beam. How do I develop the expertise to walk to the end of it successfully?
The answer is: Learn the art and science of the balancing act.
Years ago I watched a videotape of Wayne Codeiro’s Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion. Wayne Cordeiro is the founding pastor of New Hope Oahu, one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, New Hope Oahu is known for redeeming the arts and technology for the Kingdom of God.
In it he talks of a time when he was running on empty, seriously depleted of energy, drive and passion. He talks of how he learnt the art of balancing his roles as head of his home and head of his church, finding the balance between being a father/husband and being a pastor, and making time for home and ministry.
His normal stance was to stand at the center point or midpoint between his responsibilities and hold the balance. At normal times, this position would hold and he could juggle his responsibility well. However, life is not static and so he would often be confronted with challenges and pressures such that he was hard pressed to hold this balance.
His solution for such times was: Move the fulcrum closer to the pressure point! What does this mean? It means that, during times of pressure, identify the point of pressure and gravitate towards it. That is, identify the area of extra stress and give your attention to address it. For example, if the family is going through extra burden, such as sickness at home or teenage angst, spend more time or energy there until it is resolved. Then slip back to your normal midpoint position. When some other area needs extra care, provide it and then assume your original position. Instead of 50-50 attention make it 80-20 until problem is smoothened out. This is the principle of moments in physics applied to real-life situations.
You can walk the narrow beam in life by simply strategically shifting your fulcrum. This may seem an inconvenient way to live, but it actually strengthens you. Life is no longer static or boring, but filled with kaleidoscopic colors and moves. It becomes a graceful dance of life that we often see and envy in performers.
A side benefit is that you no longer resist change nor do you prevent it. You no longer fear but welcome it. You learn that change is the spice of life and you relish it now. You are no longer jaded but enjoy the nuances of your life. Life is no longer a placid pond, but transforms into an adventure down a river of rapids.
In life you need to walk the high wire over a chasm to reach the other side. Learn the balancing act to live life to the fullest!