As the holidays get closer, schedules get busier. There are parties to attend, pageants to go to, rehearsals for Christmas shows, tree lightings, decorations to buy and hang, presents to buy and wrap, food to prepare and all the while, still keeping up with everything else you do.
December 26th will roll around and most people will want to fall over in a heap of exhaustion, but there’s no time. We have to return clothes that don’t fit, clothes that are ugly, buy things that are on sale and get Christmas cards and decorations for next year because they are on sale for 80% off.
Over the next several weeks, people will quietly vent about all that they are doing and will do to friends and family, they will make resolutions in January about slowing down, eating better, working less, checking Facebook and email less, and signing their kids up for less activities. Only to find in February that they can’t wait for summer to hit so they can take a week off and sit around.
But we all know how summer goes.
In these conversations about pace, tiredness, doing too much, working too much, sleeping too little, an interesting work and concept comes up.
Whenever someone says they are tired or doing too much, a friend with good intentions will respond, “You need to get balance in your life.” We talk about work life balance. Balancing schedules, checkbooks, planners, and activities.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, balance is a pipedream.
The next time someone tells you that you need to have more balance in your life, ask him or her what that means or looks like. You’ll get blank stares.
No one seems to know.
Yet, everyone is going for it.
Here’s a better way to think about life, work, kids, money, sleep, food and anything else you try to get balance in.
Every time you say yes to something you say no to something else.
Think about it like this. Whenever you say yes to staying up too late watching TV and eating ice cream you say no to a good night sleep, more sleep and a trimmer waist line.
Whenever you say yes to sign your child up for everyone team and activity you can throw at them, you say no to a sustainable pace, family dinners and overall health.
Whenever you say yes to work late you may say yes to a promotion and more money, but you also say no to family time, relaxing, time with friends and unwinding with a good book.
When you say yes to going into debt, you say no to peace in your life and bank account.
When you say yes to that extra piece of pie over the holidays, you say no to health.
Remember, balance is a pipe dream.
Are all these examples wrong? Not at all. You should eat some good dessert over the holidays. You should sign your kids up for fun things. You should buy nice things you can afford and bless others with nice presents. All of those are great things.
Take a minute though and remember last December, last January and February. What did you feel? Exhaustion, a longing for a break and rest that never came.
Now, the question isn’t should I do these things, it is more about, and what do you want to say yes to and say no to. Because, every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else. Every time.