BALANCE IS BULLSHIT
We hear a lot about “finding balance”. The balance between work and life, parenting and couple stuff, balanced eating, drinking, exercising, thinking, BEING. Even I’ve talked about helping people find balance.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…
There’s no such thing as balance.When people say they are looking for balance, they often want it all – an immaculate house, a perfect relationship, amazing parenting skills, while kicking all-the-ass at work. I’m telling you, that kind of balance is not possible (unless you’re rich and you pay someone else to do most of this for you). This is especially true when you’re doing your big, meaningful, creative work.
But we get all these messages about how we can and should, make it all happen. When you’re a creative person who's already viewed as “unbalanced” by the rest of the world, this belief can be really damaging. I’ve fallen prey to it myself, but all that lovely training in counseling coupled with my own therapy, and some more recent reading of Danielle Laporte’s amazing works, has helped release me from the burdens of the balance myth.
When we throw ourselves into one project, another inevitably falls by the wayside.I’ve been busy playing in a rock opera band all month. I didn’t have time for rehearsing with my other bands. I didn’t have a ton of time for friends. I didn’t have much time to market my business.
It’s only natural.The scales need to tip if you want to make something big. You don’t hear about Olympians having amazing work-life balance. You hear about them getting up at 5 am to train every day for like, 15 years.
But it can get frustrating.Did I mention my husband was also acting in the rock opera? It’s awesome that we get to do this together. But our house is a mess. We ate like crap all last week. We’ve barely had time for quiet conversation. We still haven’t tackled the laundry. There've been some difficult moments and lots of bitching and moaning. But we’ve come out the other side with our brains, hearts, and bodies in tact and with the sense of fulfillment that we know we helped make something AWESOME.
Here are some tips to help you finish your creative projects without going crazy:
Be aware of what is being sacrificed
If you can, get pre-aware. Create a post or send out an email to your friends and loved ones, “I’m going into a creative cocoon for the next month, so please understand when I decline or don’t respond to your invites.” Prep your partner as much as possible about the time you’ll be missing and about the varying levels of emotion they may see from you.
It’s really easy to start feeling guily and get distracted by all the things that aren’t getting done. Keep that laser focus on your end game, or you’ll end up surrounded by unfinished work and trust me, that WON’T feel good. If you can’t get it out of your head, make a list of the things you’d like to do when you’re done, then put that list away and GET BACK TO WORK!
Be kind to yourself
Like I said, it’s really easy to start feeling guilty about the stuff you’re neglecting. Remind yourself that this is only temporary. That you’re doing the best you can. When we're seeking balance, what we're really looking for is inner calm.We can't get that by worrying about every single little thing while trying to make something huge and amazing happen. The key is to find inner peace by giving yourself a break. Try to give fewer fucks about the little things (here’s some reading by Mark Manson if you need some help on the subject). The house will get clean later. The laundry will get done. Your friend will forgive you.
The same goes for anyone working with you
We’re all working the same hustle, but we all have different challenges. Forgive the little mistake, the 5 minutes of lateness, the “how-can-we-possibly-get-this-all-done-you-people-are-driving-me-crazy!!” emotional outbursts. Be diligent and hold people accountable, but have some empathy and be respectful. Everyone feels the pressure.
Make up for it later
Throw a party for all your friends when the project is done. Plan a fun weekend with the kids. Go out to dinner with your partner. Do something to show your appreciation for the understanding and support of the people in your life.
But don’t kill yourself over it
Set aside some downtime for yourself, first, even if that means just a half hour for a hot bath or a long walk. Your brain deserves and needs rest after all that amazing stuff you just did! Give it what it needs, or that time with friends, partners, or kids will feel overwhelming and annoying.
So, where can you give yourself some space to accomplish your creative goals?
Share in the comments! I’d love to hear about your projects and how you get through the challenges you face to accomplish them.