Most of us struggle to keep things together in a volatile and uncertain world. We struggle to juggle the balls that life throws at us and still keeping balance. We struggle to keep the different areas of our life together. We experience life more as a continuous tipping of the scale between opposites – when we focus more on one side, the other side needs attention. When we give attention to one side, then the scale tips again. We struggle with coping skills to keep things “balanced”. We have become “unhealthy” people.
One common effort in our struggles with balance is to try to prioritise the different areas of our lives in terms of importance. We even turn it into a hierarchy - which means playing off the different areas of our lives against each other. Normally this leads to feelings of neglect and guilt which is not only emotionally draining, but it does not help us to live a meaningful life. It easily becomes a road to nowhere. The more we try, the more we become disconnected from ourselves and our environment. The more we become disconnected, the more we struggle to be authentic. The less authentic we live, the more meaningless our lives and experiences become, and the less we can live with wholeness.
This brings the question: Is there a better way to balance our lives or, must we even try to balance our lives?
My short answer to the question is that we must not try to balance our lives, but to integrate and align it. Rather than asking how we keep everything in balance, we ask the question how can we live an integrated life where we integrate all the areas of our lives into one whole life. Rather than the areas fighting each other for attention and our struggle to balance it, we integrate all the areas as equal and find fulfilment in each area and in the whole.
The departure point is integration, not balance.
The way to go about it is alignment, not hierarchy.
The focus point is wholeness, not coping skills.
Wholeness means that we embrace our challenges and brokenness, but are not defined by it, and continue our journeys towards living as healthy whole people.
Integration means not only that all the areas of our lives are important, but also that every area is interconnected with all the other areas. Integration seeks wholeness and aligns the way we perceive life, what we want from life (vision, life purpose and values), with the whole person we are born to be.
Integration in practise means a constant cycle of evaluation of the different areas of our lives and the identification of those areas out of line with who we are and want to be.
Integration will ask us to identify and face the obstacles, boundaries and conflicts we face.
Alignment means the actions we take in the different areas of our lives we want to bring closer to wholeness.
Alignment in practice means we formulate clear Future-focussed Outcomes we want to achieve in the chosen areas with benefits for the whole person.
Alignment asks for clear Strategies and Action Plans, alignment of resources accountability, and honest evaluation.
Maya Angelou said:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
The challenge for each one is to choose between “balancing just to survive” or “integrate and align to thrive”.