Recently I happened upon a show with one of those jugglers that managed to keep six, seven, eight, nine balls in the air. He juggled faster and faster while going from standing, to sitting until eventually eliminating one ball at a time until there were none left. I couldn’t believe he was able to keep it all together. Remarkably he was able to keep all the balls in the air and never even came close to dropping one. Ultimately he decided when to put down or pick up a ball.
When coaching clients, they frequently state they feel burned out. Discounting their achievements, they disclose they no longer find joy in what they do. They feel frustrated, as if they are running through mud. They are stressed and drained by their work, occasionally even experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, and digestive issues. The fatigue and lack of emotional commitment often lead to poor performance. This cycle leads to negativity and poor self esteem and ultimately, burnout.
We don’t simply wake up in a state of burnout. More often than not, we are lacking balance; trying to juggle too many balls, and this leads to crisis. Psychologists say common causes of burnout are lack of support, taking on more projects than you can realistically handle, and poor self care.
In our lives we have unavoidable obligations. We juggle balls with labels such as work, family commitments, and paying bills. On the other hand, there are balls we enjoy juggling, like spending time with friends, hobbies or sports. Balance is finding the harmony between accomplishing the things we must do, while enjoying some of things we prefer to do.
The secret formula for balance is unique to you. For example, some people require downtime to fill their cup, while others prefer busyness and productivity. Some individuals are refreshed by solitude while others feel energized by community.
The key to finding balance lies in boundaries. We must learn to prioritize obligations and activities distinctly. There should be a clear-cut determination as to which tasks are imperative, and which can be postponed.
Learning to say no, or putting things on hold, can be a challenge for some. This is why we must learn to extend the same grace to ourselves, that we would extend to a friend. Balance isn’t achieved in a day. It is something you achieve over time. Unexpected obligations will always arise. Crisis will occur. Nevertheless, learning to fill your cup will keep you energized for the long haul. Some days you’ll hit the mark, and other days you’ll fall short.
Some simple tips to help you set boundaries and achieve balance are:
This sounds easy, but it’s not. There are only so many hours in a day, and only so much of you to go around. Ask yourself, “Realistically, can this wait?” More often than not, it can. It’s even more difficult to say no to another person. If it’s non essential and doesn’t bring you joy, it’s a NO! It really is that simple.
No one would dispute the fact that social media is a time suck. Turn it off. Set realistic boundaries and stick to them. Allow yourself 30 minutes of social media time in the morning, and another 30 minutes in the evening. This will allow you adequate time to check on the things that interest you, and promote the things you’d like to, without robbing you of your precious down time. Set a cutoff time in the evening. For example, no electronic devices after 8:00 pm. This will allow your mind to quiet itself, and encourage a restful night’s sleep. Which leads to my next recommendation. . .
Prioritize your health and wellness
Start by defending your bedtime. You know what your body needs. Fiercely defend it. While you’re at it, get your body moving and make healthy eating choices. Your body, your temple. Treat it like a sanctuary for your beautiful soul, because it is.
Turn away from toxicity
Garbage in, garbage out. . .and I’m not just talking about food. Don’t let toxic people with negative attitudes into your inner circle. It’s simply not worth it. If those toxic individuals are unavoidable, as in family members or coworkers, limit interactions as much as possible.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to make cake pops or master photoshop? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to create a raised garden or play the harmonica. Get on YouTube, join Skillshare, or take a virtual class through your local college. When you tap into your creative side you improve your physical health, mental health, and brain function.
Wait a minute. . .Didn’t I mention above to unplug? In these times of Covid, don’t get so wrapped up in social distancing that you become disconnected. Have coffee with a friend, have a glass of wine while you catch up on Zoom, or read a book to a child. The human connection is one of the fastest and simplest ways to boost your spirits and remind you that you are here for a purpose.
The God View
I like to practice what I call the God View. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t get done today, I step back and look at the big picture, celebrating what I’ve accomplished this week, this month, and even this year. This helps me navigate away from harsh self-criticism, and often gives me the motivation to accomplish the task with more vigor, when the time is right.
If your life is unbalanced, it’s not too late to take back control. Jugglers say their craft is an act of faith; faith in your own instincts to know when to grasp, and when to let go. They regard balance as an essential skill because they’ve learned how to make small, refined movements to maintain equilibrium. We all juggle different things. Knowing which balls to catch, and which to lay down, will help you maintain your grasp on the things most important, and not the things that are urgent.