That is my word for 2017. What I’ve learned over the past few years, is this:
It’s Not About Balance, It’s About Harmony.
I’ve struggled for years to perfect the model image of balance. Work-life balance (whatever that may really be). Balance and moderation. Balance in yoga (I still fail at this regularly). Work hard to play hard. I schedule my life in such a way that there is a perfect balance of time spent working and time spent living, so to speak.
Time and time again, I find myself strung too tightly, worn too thin, and failing at what I think balance should be. At the end of my perfectly balanced day, a year seemingly defined by the perfect balance of work, and travel, and people and hobbies, I’m tired. I’m unfulfilled. I feel like I can barely keep my head above water. And I’m calling BS on this concept of balance.
Tweet This: It’s not about balance, It’s about Harmony.
Recently I was enjoying a great jazz trio at a tiny club in New York, soaking in the sounds of a soulful, moving group that obviously played together for a long time. Every other song spent time dedicated to a solo for each musician – almost to the second, in a seemingly scripted way, each person was given space to vamp and shine on their own. I love the piano, and solo piano. I love string instruments, and especially a solo guitar. Yet something was missing. While each musician was incredibly talented in their own right, during each solo I found myself craving the beauty and breathtaking power of all of the musicians together. And then they would come back together again in a moving way that filled every void that had existed just a moment prior, creating something greater than their individual notes.
Harmony. This is what was missing from my life. This is what I am looking for. Because as much as I can strive for balance, balance is not what I need or ultimately what I want. It’s Not About Balance, It’s About Harmony.
Harmony: Accord – the proper relationship and proportion; a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; the simultaneous combination of parts which are pleasing when blended.
Balance indicates perfectly equal parts of everything – almost like an equation that can be broken into numbers – 50% of my time and energy for work and 50% of my time and energy for life. Or perhaps even something more complex but equally mathematical – 25% for work, 25% for me, 25% for important people in my life, and 25% for faith and spirituality. Not necessarily in that order. Not necessarily those 4 things… substitute your own. What are you trying to balance?
Don’t get me wrong, balance is a great and beautiful thing… sometimes. Like in yoga, where balance is essential to holding a pose. But the more I seek balance, the more I realize that I’m seeking the wrong thing. Everything in my life can be in perfect balance, but still not work if I’m balancing the wrong things in the wrong way. Balance puts everything in my life in tension with one another, competing for my attention, my time, my energy.
I am finished with the tension that comes with balance.
Balancing everything in a way where I try to give it all the full attention it deserves while not letting anything fall through the cracks AND keeping all the balls in the air is exhausting, messy. It feel like I am going to tip over at any minute and fall flat on my face (this describes most days for me, and as a very accomplished clutz, the reality of it is not too far off).
Rather than allowing time for everything in my life in equal, balanced proportions, sharing my time and energy in a way that feels in perfect balance, I want more. I want everything in my life to be in harmony with each other. I want it to work together, to sing, to resonate. I want everything to not only complement the other aspects of my life but to enhance them, to be better as a whole than any piece could be individually.
Harmony embraces the interconnections of the many facets of my life and strings them together in one accord. Harmony works together to create something that is better than any part individually. Excelling at work can make me more fulfilled which makes me a better friend and partner, embracing time to take care of myself will make me more productive in my career and creative pursuits, dynamic and healthy relationships with people I love and invest time and energy into will train me to work better with others in the community and in my professional realm.
I want it all.
I want to be the best version of myself; I want to reach my highest potential in every aspect of my life. I’ve learned I’m not a very good either/or person. I want it all. And I believe that is possible.
Instead of fighting for the elusive work life balance in every day, I’m shifting my perspective to harmonizing it all. I am seeking to embrace it all together as one big orchestra, knowing that it is all better when it’s working together. And at times certain aspects of my life will have a solo, and will have more attention and validation and time and energy. Seeing that bigger picture, I want to embrace and encourage it to not be in tension with the other parts of my life but to enhance it, to bring it all together in a way that is powerful and soulful and moving.
It is easier said than done, but I have to try. I believe there is something better than just perfect balance.
Tweet this: I am meant to live a life of harmony.
By this point I’m sure you’re asking HOW? Thinking, this is all well and good, but what does it mean practically? How does this work in my life? I’m guessing this is what is on your mind, because this is what is on my mind too. It feels easier said than done. I don’t know yet what this looks like practically in my life. I know it’s going to involve a lot of trial and error. I will fall on my face quite a few times in the process. I’m certain that I’ll make some horrible music along the way. But I’m determined to try. For every time I end up right back where I started, I’ll try again. Because I can’t imagine anything better than my life being in harmony.
Join me on this journey?
I’ll share my thoughts and experiences along the way… what’s working for me, what’s not. What’s inspiring me, encouraging me, and motivating me. And can’t we all use a bit more inspiration in our life? A bit more encouragement? A bit more motivation?
Do you feel balance in your life? How does it feel?
What would harmony look like in your life? What does it mean to you?
If you want other resources along these lines, I highly recommend:
David Whyte’s book The Three Marriages – Whyte’s vision for reimagining work, self and relationship is the best guide I’ve found for what I’m aspiring to with a harmonic life.
Michael Hyatt’s Podcast: Do you really want work-life balance? – Hyatt has an amazing perspective on setting priorities and how to manage the tension of work-life balance.