Life balance—who among us doesn’t crave that elusive idea of checking all the boxes, feeling on top of things, and never letting one ball drop. Is true life balance even achievable?
Author and business expert Christy Wright set out to answer this question in her new book, “Take Back Your Time: The Guilt-Free Guide to Life Balance.” She redefines the idea of life balance and offers a practical guide to achieving it. I recently asked for her advice in achieving this elusive goal.
The Epoch Times: Why do you think a sense of life balance seems so elusive to so many of us?
Christy Wright: Because we never define it. We don’t know what balance is; we’re just sure we don’t have it. We all want balance—whatever that means for each of us—but it’s like chasing a moving target. Any version of balance we think we’re supposed to want or have is impossible.
Many people think balance is a 50/50 split between work and home. Other people think it’s doing everything for an equal amount of time. But neither of those definitions of balance is possible or even desirable. That’s why we end up feeling exhausted and like we’re failing.
The path to balance is not productivity. It’s not waking up earlier and staying up later and running faster in between. It’s not being more efficient and multitasking more effectively. And we don’t need more time.
The good news is that balance is possible, but we need a new definition of balance, and that’s exactly why I wrote this book. I want to reclaim and redefine this word that haunts so many of us, and show you how to practically create it in your life.
The Epoch Times: What’s your new definition of life balance?
Ms. Wright: What I discovered is that balance isn’t as much about something you do or how you “balance it all.” Balance—real balance that we all crave—is something you create in your life. You can create a sense of balance and still be busy. You can become a balanced person in an out-of-balance world.
Balance is not doing everything for an equal amount of time. It’s about doing the right things at the right time, and the good news is that you get to decide what’s right for you. When you do that, you will feel that sense of balance you’ve been searching for all along. It looks less like juggling balls, spinning plates, and walking a tightrope, and it looks more like peace, confidence in your choices, shaking the guilt that’s been nagging at you for years, and finally being proud of how you spend your time.
I think that’s what we’re really after when we say we want balance, anyway. And the good news is that it’s possible.
The Epoch Times: The key to spending your precious time on the things you deem most important is being able to identify what those things are. How can one go about discovering one’s true priorities?
Ms. Wright: When we talk about priorities, it’s not a “set it and forget it” thing. I want people to think in terms of the season they’re currently in.
Something that was right six months or six years ago isn’t necessary right today. Get into a rhythm of asking yourself, “What’s right, right now?”
So, for example, what’s right in the summer when my work is slower is very different from what’s right in the fall when I’m launching a book. In the summer, my house was pretty clean, I saw my friends regularly, and I worked out consistently. This fall, I’m focused on work. My house is not as clean as I’d like, I haven’t seen my friends much, and I’m not working out. But that doesn’t mean I’m failing. In fact, I am spending my time on what I decided were the top priorities for this season: work, family, and seminary classes.
When you ask yourself, “What’s right, right now?” you not only give yourself permission to focus on what’s right for you, you allow yourself to make progress there and even be proud of those things. You also allow yourself to shake the guilt for all the things that are not right, right now. Just because something isn’t right, right now doesn’t mean it will never be right. It’s just not right, right now. Focus on what’s right and watch how that helps you shake the guilt, build confidence in how you’re spending your time, and even helps you feel more balanced.
The Epoch Times: Your book maps out a five-step “path to balance.” Which step do you find is most challenging to people and why?
Ms. Wright: Without a doubt, it’s the last step: Be present for what matters. Because even if you create the most perfect schedule in the world, if you aren’t present for it, you miss it. We can do all of the things that help us figure out what balance means to us. We can be exactly where we’re supposed to be, and even want to be, and still miss what’s right in front of us because we’re too worried about the places we’re not. This is hard because there are so many things competing for our attention all day, every day.
I want to help people flip their focus to where they are instead of feeling guilty for where they are not. Be where your feet are—wherever you are, be there. Research shows that when you’re present in the moment, you’re not only more balanced, you’re happier overall.
The Epoch Times: The pandemic gave many people a different perspective on time management and life balance. How did current events shape this book, if at all?
Ms. Wright: For the first time in a long time, and maybe ever for some, the pandemic gave people a chance to think and to breathe. Many people are rethinking how they live their lives and how they spend their time. We’re seeing the effects of this in the labor force right now. Millions of people are leaving their jobs and millions more are considering a change. They’re working from home, changing careers, and going part-time. So this question of balance is as relevant as ever.
The Epoch Times: What do you most hope readers of “Take Back Your Time” take away with them?
Ms. Wright: Millions of people are walking around all day every day feeling like they’re failing. And they’re not. My hope is that after reading the book, people realize that they are doing better than they think they are. And that if they want their life to look different than it does, they have the power to change that.
How you spend your time is how you spend your life, and I want to help people spend their one life on what matters most to them. I want to help them define and create their version of balance so that they can live it. It’s their life, after all. That’s the only version of balance that should matter to them anyway.