A few of my recent posts have been about balance and I recently wrote about my preferred metaphor of packing a suitcase over ideas about balance. I wanted to share two more quotes from Colin Wright about balance because I think the quotes help highlight what is at the base of our ideas, metaphor, and thoughts about balance. In his book Becoming Who We Need To Be, Wright writes, “A focus on balance doesn’t mean a focus on anything specific. Your priorities completely depend on you, where you are now, and where you want to be. It’s a matter of filling in the gaps, strengthening the weak spots, and doing your best to ensure that you’re not a two-dimensional person. It’s attempting to be more round and fulfilled, rather than flat, flawed-feeling, and structurally vulnerable.”
The reason we talk about balance and why it is so important in our lives is because it helps us achieve what we want and do the things we want to do. Balance is not an end, but rather a means to help us become who we want to be. How we attempt to balance our life reveals our priorities, our interests, the things we truly want as opposed to the things we say we want (what economists call our revealed preferences), and what we think is valuable and meaningful in our life. The conflicts in our time and attention that leave our balance out of wack reveals our obstacles and challenges, our habits, and the areas where we can most improve.
Wright continues, “On a personal level, and on the societal level, this isn’t a one-step process. It’s a journey that doesn’t end. It’s not a punch, it’s a posture, held and adjusted over time, to achieve the best possible shape for who you want to be.”
When we think about balance we think about our values in life. We ask ourselves questions about who we want to be, what we want to do, what would be important for us to do to provide for our families, loved ones, and communities. We make decisions between whether we are going to do one activity or another and think about how we are going to use our time to make the vision of what we want become a reality. It is something that we will never complete, and will always depend on our life circumstances, on larger forces in the world, and on the goals we develop for ourselves. If we think about balance and don’t like where we feel we are at, we should work on our self-awareness and self-reflection to see what priorities, values, and goals we are working toward, and how we are building that into our lives.