I wrote a blog post a few years back that started out something like this: “Everyone wants balance in their life and this is how I do my best to maintain balance in my life:” I went on to explain my time blocking schedule.
That post never got published because I could never, despite my valiant efforts, get my time blocks just right. Something always came up that made it difficult for me to stick with my plan. A few years later, I realize that I’m done with trying to achieve balance.
I’m into tilting instead.
Many of us spend much of our lives aiming for balance. We want to juggle all of our responsibilities, commitments, priorities, and schedules with perfect balance. We want to be able to do it all on any given day in just the right amounts.
We want to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor and citizen. We try to balance the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental parts of our being. We envision these beautiful days where we balanced it all — where we cleaned the house, made a healthy dinner, played with the kids, went for a walk, talked with a friend, developed a talent, and even had time to read a book.
We think if we can just get our shiz together, or set up the perfect schedule, or just find more energy, or just train the kids well enough that we will be able to attain the ultimate goal of BALANCE.
I believed this myth for many years. And there were some days that I could achieve balance, but most days I could not. The goal of balance gave me high expectations that often ended in frustration, disappointment or self-doubt.
I believed “Balance” was the ultimate goal until I read this awesome blog post on Tilting.
The author, Brooke, describes tilting as going with the flow, addressing the needs of that day, moving with life in the direction it is headed, leaning towards the most important, significant task. Tilting is giving yourself permission and acceptance to live daily life out of balance.
To understand what tilting is, it is also helpful to understand what tilting is NOT. Tilting is not constant chaos, procrastinating, lack of planning or lack of structure. It is not a triage kind of life where you are just addressing immediate pressing concerns as minimally as you can because you have to move on to the next emergency. Tilting doesn’t usually feel stressful or urgent.
Rather tilting is a freeing philosophy with less stress and less expectations and with more happiness and peace. When we give ourselves permission and encouragement to tilt, there is less force, constraint, guilt and disappointment. We know we aren’t going to be able to do it all today. But we know we will do what is most important. And as Brooke mentions, when we tilt, we don’t have to spend our days with the “brakes on” trying to hold back in some areas and let go in others, trying to keep everything in balance.
One of the reasons I enjoy homeschooling is because it allows me to tilt a little more easily. I am not on someone else’s schedule and demands. Elle and I can flow with the needs of the day.
Two weeks ago I tilted towards my church responsibility. I had to make 200 mini desserts, speak 3 times, and decorate a gymnasium. I spent the week reading, gathering, baking, studying, and even cutting branches. Thursday Elle and I tilted towards tarts and brownie bites. We baked and frosted and garnished. The house was thrashed, dishes were piled up, and we consumed way too much sugar. But we tilted and were happy with our efforts for the day.
Last week I tilted towards Parent Teacher Conference dinner. The PTA President called me and asked me to take over the teachers’ dinner kind of last minute due to a very sad situation, so I said yes. I spent the week shopping, chopping, emailing, texting, planning and preparing. Even after it was finished I still had to clean, wash, return, regroup and recover. This unplanned assignment took my whole week. Other parts of my life were definitely on hold. My week was not balanced; I tilted toward service instead.
And yesterday I woke up with big plans to tilt towards Valentine’s Day, but my little guy threw up right before breakfast and I had to adjust. I tilted towards a sick kid instead.
When I find myself overwhelmed with a project or disappointed that I am getting nothing else done, I just tell myself, “It’s okay. You are doing exactly what needs to be done right now. You are tilting today. ” (Yes, I talk to myself:))
I have friends and family that are tilting as well. Their lives are out of balance as they prepare for vacation, complete science fair projects, start a new business, build a house, plan a wedding or care for a new baby. Others are tilting towards grief and loss while others are tilting towards a significant illness.
None of them, including me, have balance in their life each day, each week, or even each year. But I am not worried about it because I am confident it all balances out in the end. When it is all said and done we will have had a balanced life.
I mean think about noise levels in a household for example. Take the quiet days of newlywed life where we snuggled on the couch together and watched a movie, to the harried days of a young mom as we dealt with tantrums and crying, to a house full of teenagers with their music and friends and sibling fights, and then back to quiet empty nesters who have time to sit on the couch together and read the newspaper. Noise came and went with intense periods and quiet periods, but if you averaged out the noise over a lifetime it would probably be balanced. I am in the noisy phase of life, but know that I had quiet before and will have quiet again, so now I tilt towards noise and embrace that this is my life, right now with no balance in sight.
I guess what I am saying is balance is my goal for a lifetime. Tilting is my goal each day.