I hear it all the time in conversations, and the same longing echoes in my own heart. I want balance. I want a joy-filled life. I want to do meaningful work, to help others, to be creative, to be healthy, to have time for friends and family, to have fun time, and on and on the list goes. I don’t want to answer every “How are you?” with “Ugh. Too busy.” I especially don’t want to answer every “How’s your writing?” with an “I just never seem to have time.”
When I work with writers, young and young at heart, I hear the same story. “I want to have time for writing, but…”
Just bypassing the creative block isn’t enough. Or maybe it’s just that it’s not the start. I think the starting place is wrangling one’s life. Now, I have to tell you, working on this project has been a ten-year, maybe more, project for me. Thus, I’m not about to tell you that I’ve stumbled across some simple magic fix for balancing one’s life. Balance isn’t simple. Yet, I have spent hours and hours of trial and error, and while my life still isn’t perfectly balanced, I’ve learned some important lessons.
1. It never WILL be balanced. There’s an ebb and flow.
2. Throwing in the towel and just going with the ebb and flow isn’t the entire answer. That approach leads to either a blocked or lazy or overwhelmed life.
3. One needs a system, but it has to be loose enough to actually work with the ebb and flow. And the system absolutely can’t lead to guilt, or you’re back to the blocked, lazy or overwhelmed life.
So, what do you do when you need a system and you also need to flow? A kindergarten teacher would say you need color-coded buckets. While what’s in the bucket might still be chaotic, when you can train the kids to put their toys away at the end of play-time, there’s always that moment at the end of the day when everything is back in it’s place, where the class can take a collective breath. Then, the next day, fresh decisions can be made, new games can be invented, and everyone trusts that at the end of theday, everything will find the way back into the buckets. A spectacular mess simply can’t be made when you’re afraid it can’t be dealt with later.
It’s a simple concept, and at first glance, it may seem too simple. But why not try it out with me and see what you discover? Here’s what we’ll explore in the next few posts. I’ll tell you my story and share the exercises that worked for me… try mine, or let them inspire ideas of your own.
Part One: What buckets do I need? How do I even start sorting with the giant mess I’ve got?
Part Two: Fine. I’ve got buckets now. How do I keep track in the ebb and flow?
Part Three: Technology please? There’s got to be an app for that.
Part Four: What happens when days go by and I’ve totally lost sight of the buckets?
Part Five: Umm… I have all this creative energy now. What’s next?
Ready to dive in? Look for Part One over the next few days.