I’ve come to realise lately, during those rare but important brief spells of actually taking a few minutes to think things over, that life is all about balance; about keeping all the plates spinning at the same time without letting any fall off the pole and smash into pieces. And the key thing I’ve concluded about this? It isn’t easy. In fact, I find it insanely difficult, primarily as it affects every part of my life and every waking hour.
Think about it. Our whole lives, every single day, are dictated purely by the decisions we make, from the important to the mundane, with those decisions largely influenced by achieving balance in our lives. Do we watch football on the TV or should we spend that time doing something with the family? Do we borrow the money for that all-important bathroom renovation, acknowledging that we’ll need to sacrifice spending elsewhere in order to do it, or do we stick with what we’ve got and use that money in some other way, perhaps on somehow creating lifelong memories rather than spending it on something tangible? Do we venture outside for a walk for an hour or two or do we relax on the couch and watch some TV? Do we lock ourselves in a room for a couple of hours and play some guitar or do we play a game as a family? Do we cook that homemade meal on a Saturday evening, knowing every ingredient that goes into it and feeling better about ourselves, or do we bow to peer pressure from within the home and order pizzas instead? Do we get up in the middle of the night for a pee when we know it’s the right thing to do or do we stay wrapped up in the warmth of the duvet, knowing that in doing so we may wake up again in an hour, which we know will subsequently lead to a tired and irritable day ahead? Do we check on a daily basis that our immediate family are in a good place and feeling loved and supported, or do we retreat into our own bubble and just hope that everyone is ok? It’s all about decisions and balance.
It applies everywhere, too. In the workplace, I find I’m constantly trying to find a balance between work and home life. I’m fortunate enough to still have a job. That job keeps me busy – too busy at times – and that is a delicate balancing act. Do I do what I can within my contracted working hours just to get the job done or do I work additional hours to ensure I’m doing everything to the very best of my ability? My natural tendency is to veer toward the latter, particularly as I’m a perfectionist, though that does involve working additional hours. I know I’m certainly not alone in doing this within my organisation too.
Then there’s my home life. Regular readers will know I’m not the type to just finish work and watch TV all evening (though I could certainly find contentment in doing so). My films to watch, TV shows to watch, books to read, books to write, songs to learn on guitar and piano, and songs to write lists contain enough entries to easily see me through to the day I die, and that’s without adding further to them. However, ploughing through those lists would mean spending a lot of time alone, and that doesn’t sit comfortably with me right now. At home, my absolute priority is to be the best husband and father that I can be. If my wife wants to do something as a family, that is a priority. If my daughter wants to go for a walk or watch a certain TV show, that is an absolute priority, especially as I’m conscious that she is now 14 and it won’t be too long before I won’t be in a position to decide on the spur of the moment to stroll around the block or take in another episode of Friday Night Dinner together. Time is fleeting, time is precious, and I know I must make the most of all these opportunities when they present themselves to me. But, having said that, I do need to find time in my life to address some of those other things which are important to me. Again, it’s all about achieving balance. When I factor in the balance between home and work life, it becomes even trickier.
All this concerns me. Being brutally honest, at times, trying to achieve the balance can cause issues, both in the workplace and at home. It causes headaches. It requires prioritisation. At times it requires excellent organisational skills. Perhaps most importantly, it nearly always requires empathy and a need to consider the thoughts, feelings and needs of others. On occasion, it even causes anxiety.
Achieving balance isn’t easy at the best of times, so it certainly isn’t easy in the current climate. Over the past few months, I’ve read many social media status updates and had many conversations which illustrate that this problem is quite widespread at the moment. If you feel you’re in that situation, please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel you have that balance in your life – I’m sure very few do right now. The main thing is getting through this unscathed so please do try to find a minute or two to consider if you’re simply trying to keep too many plates spinning. If you are, try to prioritise. Consider which of those plates are most important to keep spinning and if are there any others which you can gently remove from the pole for a few months, before hopefully getting them spinning again at a later date. If you conclude that you need to keep all of your plates spinning but are really struggling to achieve that, seek help. It absolutely isn’t a sign of weakness. Try to have an honest conversation with those nearest and dearest to you, potentially friends as well as family members, and determine if there is a way of working together to get through this. There will always be numerous plates to spin – it’s just that it seems there are more than ever right now.
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and remember that there are usually people in our lives who make excellent listeners should you ever need to talk.
Best wishes and take care.