One of the things I am passionate about as a wellbeing and mindset coach is helping individuals and groups successfully locate the sweet spot in their working and personal lives, often referred to as the work/life balance. And with this as a focus for October, I'm excited to share with you over the next four weeks a new series all about finding your own personal equilibrium.
Let's Start at the Beginning
I want to challenge myself this month, and hope you will join me for the journey. I am going to pose a series of questions in my blog and via live sessions on Instagram to help move us closer towards knowing, understanding and living with real harmony in our everyday experiences. So, let's get started...
Have you ever carried more than you need to? I've gone into shops, with the sole purpose of only getting one item, to leave an hour later having bought twenty things that I didn't go in for. What about on holiday - when you arrive at the airport and have your luggage weighed - it's that moment of dread: will the bulging suitcase be under the allotted allowance? Even though I will spend most of the holiday in the same shorts and vest combo, I still feel the need to pack the kitchen sink. Or do you own a magnetic day bag, one that seems to attract and accumulate stuff over the course of the week or even month - wipes, drinks bottle, diary, make up, deodorant, sunglasses (just in case), umbrella (also, just in case), pens, random children's fidget spinners and action figures, half eaten protein bar, notebook, lipsticks, hair brush, bobby pins, book you'd like to read, another notebook etc... you get the gist!
All of the above have one thing in common - excess. The extra purchases in the store, the extra layers of holiday clothes, the extra daily trappings of stuff we carry around with us. It's all extra, additional and potentially unnecessary. But what drives this desire for more? Why do we carry more than we need? What makes us purchase, pack and prop up all these additions that are, if we are honest, weighing us down?
"Woah! That's a big question Sarah!" I know, and I hear you, and no, I'm not here to grind a consumerist or economic axe. But, I do think it's good to ask these questions from time to time. Because, ultimately, what price are we paying in carrying extra baggage? At what cost are we continuing to hold onto stuff and things we may no longer require in our lives - these could be physical or emotional, behaviours or habits, relationships or beliefs. If we want to live with a true sense of balance, we need to be aware of what we are actually holding onto, what is purposeful and if there is anything we can set down and recalibrate the load in our lives.
I'm going to hold myself accountable here and use myself as an example. Like I said, this journey of finding balance must start with me. And so, personally, the reason I end up with extra is through fear of lack and loss of belonging. A scarcity mindset reminds me "The 25% discount won't be available next week, so I'll buy that now." A need to feel valued says "If I purchase this, I'll feel better about myself/my home/my parenting." My worry about the future keeps me saying "Just in case, because you never know when I might need it." My need to feel in control comes in the form of "If I have a supply of stuff in my bag/kitchen/bathroom/garage/office, I'll be prepared for anything." And the classic, wanting to belong, be liked and loved repeats - "I'll carry that for you" - even when my hands are already full.
Now, don't misunderstand me, I don't psychoanalyse everything in this way, but knowing who I am and why I do what I do is helpful, especially when wanting to make a change. If we continue to do the same things, but expect different outcomes, we're fooling ourselves. If I continue to carry the same load - physical or mental, but expect my life to feel lighter and easier - I'm the fool. Something I am keen to look at for myself is what has been handed to me, that wasn't mine to carry in the first place - a hand me down from family or friends. This type of baggage can be in the form of an unwanted item, unhelpful behaviour or untrue belief. So, I want to lighten the load and ask myself a few deep and meaningful questions to look at ways I can shift unwanted clutter and allow for correct proportion and steadiness.
The word balance as a noun means "a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions." As a verb, to balance means "to put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall." In light of this, I believe we need to reflect on what is correct in terms of the proportion of the things in our lives and aim to create a steadiness that allows us to live without fear of falling. It is important to note that this will look different for each of us, and also in the different seasons of our lives.
To do this for yourself, your situations and to start bringing your life into better proportion, ask yourself the following questions and I am going to do the same. Grab a notebook and pen, find a quiet space for 15-20 minutes and let's take a deep breath before we dive in.
Question 1: Where in your life (work, personal, emotional, physical) do you feel overwhelmed? Be specific with this and write as much detail on each area as you can.
Question 2: What takes up/consumes most of your time, money and energy in a day/week? Again, be specific and choose one area.
Question 3: Imagine your life is balanced, with the correct proportion of time and energy, what would that look like? How would it feel? How would it make a difference in your day to day living?
Question 4: Having chosen one thing from your answer to question 2, ask yourself why this takes up so much time etc. and what is the ideal proportion for this in your life.
Question 5: Work on this one thing this week, aim to bring it into balance. Ask yourself if you can delegate, ask for help, out source, simplify or just press pause on this activity? If not, why not? Write down what your life will look like with this in balance - use this as a guide to help you plan the changes you can make. Be really practical and actionable with this, whether this is an activity, item or emotion that needs to be rebalanced.
Top Tips to Achieve Balance
Each day, visualise what it will feel like to lighten the load in this area of your life.
Set yourself realistic actions to do throughout this week.
Keep yourself accountable and share with others to really ensure you'll stick to this rebalance.
Check back in at the end of the week and reflect on how you have created a shift in balance, if you are closer to questions 3 and if not, revisit question 5 and keep working at it.
Stay the course, don't give up. Change is possible and it is through your awareness, choice and action that a shift will happen.
This is something I help my clients with, and so if you'd like to have someone to hold your hand and lead the way in finding your balance get in touch with me and we can chat about what you need. All my coaching is personal and unique to you and your needs and desires. It is so much easier when someone can walk with you through change, so reach out and ask for the help you need.
This month I have decided to offer a 20% discount on all my online programmes and coaching. If this is something you would like to take advantage of, email me for more details. Also, throughout October the profits from the sale of my book Upward: The Power of Looking Up will be donated to Signposted Cymru, a mental health charity.
Each Monday in October I will be live on Instagram at 6.30pm BST. I will be giving more info and ideas on finding you balance and answering questions in person. It'd be great if you could join me and others who are all seeking balance. You'll find me @iamsarahalexcarter Share this blog with those that may need to read it and let's find our balance together.