A few years ago, I stumbled upon Dan Blank’s article about creating balance (specifically between the often warring forces of work and leisure). It was an interesting read and ultimately thought-provoking for me. I wanted to share the comment I left for him:
“Thanks for this article. I found myself nodding my head as I read down the page, but by the end, I also realized something. When I read about how you prioritized your career, and cut out your commute and other things that weren’t serving your purpose, and then how you also made it a priority to spend time with your family whenever you wanted… well, to me, that is balance. I think what’s outmoded is the notion that balance must be a perfect split of time, or always giving everything equal attention (which, for most people, includes a lot of meaningless tasks and activities — ‘noise’). Instead, I’d say it’s about giving the things you value most intentional attention, and that by making room for all of the things you value, you create a balanced life.”
(To which he responded: “That is an EXCELLENT POINT! You really hit the nail on the head there – thanks!”)
Although his article and my comment ended up being a nice exchange of ideas, I had hoped my thoughts would generate some further discussion. I think I was looking for “the answer” even though I knew one didn’t exist. Then again, if the “definition” I’d just suggested to Dan was true, balance would be different for everyone, anyway.
I’ve had the above in my drafts folder for about two months now. I never turned it into a post because I couldn’t figure out what else I wanted to say about it or how it might apply to me three years later – until yesterday. I was in the process of making some decisions about my blog, readying the content you see below, when that draft sort of waved its hand at me and said, “Now do you understand?”
And I finally did.
You see, when I started this blog, I set an arbitrary posting schedule for myself that consisted of two posts per week (with the option of as many as four, if you counted sharing quotes and music). You’re probably laughing at how business-like I made that. It’s true – I did. But since this was my third attempt at blogging, I really really wanted to succeed at it this time, and knew if I didn’t set up some structure for myself, it’d be too easy to put it aside.
And therein lies the irony. I was so focused on getting two posts completed every week that my blog ended up taking over other areas of my life. Areas that were equally important. Projects that were patiently waiting for their turn – and not getting it. (Balance? What balance?) I wasn’t making room for all of the things I valued.
Add to that the discovery that my chosen pace was too ambitious for the sorts of posts I set out to do. The ones that take more than a day or two to write (and/or photograph). The ones that I often have to think about for awhile so I can organize and distill my thoughts down. The ones that are born from my intentional attention, not just my desire to stay disciplined and keep to a twice-weekly posting schedule.
Some weeks I may continue to do two or more posts, but overall I’m going to stop pressuring myself to produce on a schedule. I need more balance, so I’m adjusting to something that feels more natural and authentic to me.
I’m going to take the time to create the things that really fuel me – longer, more in-depth posts that share my passion projects, a sprinkling of DIY endeavors, and reflections on life, work, spirituality and relationships. The stuff I like to think and wonder about, and the stuff that (I hope) gets you to think, too. Of course, I’ll still do the shorter, lighter, goofier posts as well. I just don’t know how often I will be posting.
I realize this kind of ad-hoc posting schedule isn’t to everyone’s tastes, so that’s why I’m announcing it. I think sharing my “why” is also important. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to do things our own way, and at our own speed, regardless of convention or the expectations of others. If there’s one thing that has become clear to me after writing this post, it’s this: balance does not have to be about giving equal amounts of time and energy to all of your priorities, it just means you need to give them all something. Otherwise, they’re not priorities.
Time to take my own advice.