My life hack for a perfectly imbalanced life
A few weeks ago, I read a LinkedIn post from Mark McLeod that included the phrase “No one who achieves greatness is balanced.”
I have to agree with that.
His point of view was deeply reflective, offering insights about how many people you admire – sports athletes, CEOs, artists – have signed up for a life that requires consciously choosing regarding how they will invest their time: relationships, health, relaxation.
While this observation resonated with me, I’d like to add another layer to McLeod’s statement. I would expect that a high performer and over achiever should know better than to settle for an imbalanced life. I truly believe that these types of people make a responsible choice about what they are willing to give away in order to achieve their version of greatness.
Now, if you identify with this group of people and feel like you haven’t explicitly made a choice – if you haven’t fully embraced what you would be leaving behind in your departure from a “balanced” life – I have a life hack for you. It’s meant to help you make an empowered decision and make peace with the concept of “imbalance,” which I like to call a “fractional balanced life” instead.
I recently came across a quote that really resonated with me (I’ll paraphrase, since I can’t remember the exact wording!):
Maybe you can’t achieve all your goals at the same time. But you can definitely achieve all your goals at a certain time. It’s all about how you distribute them.
Putting theory into practice
Last year, I made the decision to run a full marathon for the first time. After running a dozen half ones, I wanted to be part of the 1% of the population that completes a 42K. And that required me to accept that something would fall through the cracks – because you can’t do everything all the time, but you can definitely do one thing at a time and be successful at it.
So I added a major good habit to my routine: I was running 5 days a week. I was thriving in my healthy balanced life, but there was a cost to that. My social life definitely saw a decline. After all, I couldn’t have a glass of wine on Friday night, because Saturday was a long-run day. Neither could I stay up too late on the weekends, since I needed to be in tip-top shape the next morning.
Even when you make space for a healthy habit, there’s something you’ll need to sacrifice. In this case, it was my leisure time. Long-term, we need to decide what we’re willing to give away, one item at a time.
Nailing the rotation
It’s totally fine to give away healthy eating for a few days and succumb to comfort food, or sacrifice a few family nights if there’s an important deliverable, or postpone a vacation if there’s something else that needs your immediate attention. The problem is when you give the same item away over and over again.
If, in order to achieve greatness, you are always putting your relationships in jeopardy, that’s where your life will suffer from the imbalanced choice. But if you alternate between different aspects of your life – one day it’s your relationships, one day is your exercise, one day your time off, etc. – that’s how you can manage your complicated life with finesse 👌.
This rotation is a healthy way to make sure you have a sustainable framework for your pursuits. Jeopardizing one “bucket” of your life for too long is just not sustainable: you’ll risk impacting different areas of your life significantly, whether it be your health, social life, or something else.
I believe it’s completely wrong (and borderline unhealthy) to believe we can do it all at the same time. Especially as a mom and entrepreneur, there’s often this belief that women in business can do it all – or worse, we’re expected to manage a perfect home and career. The amazing thing is, we can’t. And once we accept that, we become incredibly powerful, because we can then own our mindful decisions about what to sacrifice and how to find balance.
Finding balance within sacrifice
The next frontier for a high performer is becoming the master of those decisions, intelligently alternating different aspects of her life to make sure nothing is impacted too often for too long.
That’s my life hack. And it has successfully helped me achieve so many things in different periods of my life, and has also helped me realize when I haven’t done the switch effectively enough.
So, if you think you can’t have a balanced life, the truth is you can definitely be balanced, healthy, and achieve your version of greatness. It boils down to managing your imbalances, alternating them, making smart choices about time allocation, and making space for everything to coexist – the good with the bad. Most importantly, it’s about feeling good about yourself as you traverse an imbalanced path, because you know it’s underpinned by logic and a consciously-made decision.