Leisse Wilcox is a speaker, writer, podcast host, and mindset coach. She helps people find clarity in what they want, confidence in who they are, and the courage to stay true to both. Her first book, To Call Myself Beloved, will be available in the fall of 2020.
I remember when I first moved out of my home, what a free for all the cafeteria was. Suddenly, hundreds of kids who’d been told what to eat and how much of it for the past 18 years of their lives were left to navigate the wild territory of choice and free will.
I will never forget the image of this one group of guys eating burgers, fries, and chocolate milk every night with great enthusiasm. After a few weeks, the enthusiasm had kind of left, but the burgers remained. Weeks later, they had branched out their diets to include more variety and a balance of other (cough, more nutritional) choices.
Balance is a moving target at the best of times. In the last two months, as our lives have become one giant snow globe that just got shaken up, we are all in a state of recalibrating — figuring out how to do this and what comes next.
Earlier this year in one of my group coaching courses we talked about balance a lot, and the concept that increasingly we are moving towards a blend. How do we work towards creating and embracing a work life blend, not balance?
The reality is that as our workforce changes, our personal lives are changing as well. Because we have such powerful tech that allows us to work from home, it’s kind of a surprise that more of us don’t work from home. Maybe this will be a great shift after coronavirus, the move to create more mobility and flexibility in where and how we work.
The flip side of this paradox is that the very tech that sets us free is the same tech that can almost enslave us. Have you looked at how much time you spend on your phone? At your laptop? On Instagram alone?
We are very complex creatures, and need to be certain we are emotionally aware enough to check in with ourselves about what we really need and what is needed of us, and we need to do so in a way that allows us the space to feel like we can breathe. I’ve broken it down into my top three ways to create the right blend in your life — as wonky as it might be right now.
Our lives at any given time are pulling us in many different directions at once. Having some semblance of a routine in place will act as an anchor or touchstone to help navigate even the most uncertain times. Things like getting up at a regular time, making your bed, taking time to meditate/work out/move, having breakfast, settling into the day at the same time. Each of these things help establish the tone for the day, everyday.
And the great thing is that everyone in your family can be a part of this. Kids thrive on routine and crave the comforting predictability it brings, and so do adults. Even if you have to adapt it slightly as you go, you will feel a lot more settled and grounded if you’re working from some kind of daily structure that guides you if you feel untethered. And remember, balance is a moving target, so what works this month, this week, may very well need to be wiggled around to accommodate the reality that nothing is finite, and that we are always in flux and flow. Change is the only constant.
I could talk about boundaries all day, because they are one of the foundational elements to our inner peace and healthy relationships, and yet, very few of us possess the emotional intelligence or awareness to create the boundaries that really serve us. If we’re talking about finding balance and blend in our lives, it is crucial we also talk about boundaries. Boundaries are effectively the invisible lines we draw around ourselves to protect our inner world. It’s about communicating things like what we will and will not accept from others in terms of behavior, how much we can give, how much we can receive, how much of our time is allocated for this or that, allowing us to feel grounded and whole, not exhausted from over-investing in one or two areas of life.
Right now is an excellent time to establish these healthy, loving boundaries with your partner, with your kids, and with your work. Using your routine and schedule as a guide, very clearly define which chunks of your time are for whom or for what. Even if you are currently superwoman — the driven, high achieving, blissfully independent, strong and courageous one who can do it all — don’t. It’s unsustainable, and setting loving, healthy boundaries that honor and align with your own values will help protect your natural talents and abilities so that you can actually show up fully in each of the roles you play, and be present.
Self care wins again. And to be clear, self-care is whatever you want or need it to be. There’s a misconception that “caring for yourself,” especially as a woman, means trips to the spa, long lunches, and baths. Maybe that’s what self care looks like for you, and if so? Do that. But there are many more of us for whom care of self means getting some quiet time. The chance to read or listen to a podcast, unfettered by other people or demands. Going outside for a walk or run, eating well (and at the table), doing yoga without little bodies climbing on ours in child’s pose.
Taking care of yourself goes hand in hand with setting loving, healthy boundaries, and is 100% something you will need to add into your routine. And if you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time for that,” reframe your language to, “I don’t prioritize that,” and observe how that sits in your body. While balance is a moving target and blend is a concept that allows your high-achieving self to gracefully wear as many hats as you do, one thing remains fixed: You. Just like your car requires regular oil changes, gas, windshield washer fluid refills — you know, basic maintenance — so that it can do its job and get you where you need to go, so too do your body and emotional self. When you shift your thinking into realizing that self care is how you maintain yourself, it naturally becomes a higher priority, and distances itself from the over-memed (and underwhelmed) notion of cucumber slices and white wine. Ask yourself, “What would bring me more joy right now, in this moment?” And do that.
Balance feels elusive because of the fluidity and constant flexibility of our lives. When you can teach yourself to appreciate that it’s all relative — all of it — it becomes easier to create a better feeling of balance in your life. Embedding these three concepts into your life right now will help greatly, and truly create a feeling of being able to breathe, and take everything in stride like you know you can.