What is Life Balance and How Does it Relate to Performance?
So the term life balance is thrown around a lot, I talk about it, people approach me to help them achieve it, but what actually is it? In this article I wish to present some options of how we might view it and how it relates to peak performance.
As a definition, we see life balance, more commonly referred to in the context of work life balance, which is more about spending too much time at work in relation to being at home, but that just looks at two variables (work and home) usually with reference to time spent at each. If we isolate the term balance one definition is: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Another is: a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. With regards to the term life balance itself, I find some people have either a positive or negative charge around the term itself. More related to their individual interpretation of the term life balance (i.e. with some people it has a suggestion of non productive, or linked to non activity. With others to look at it highlights a life of imbalance so prefer not to look there).
When I think of what life balance means from my interpretation. In my head it is a fluid strategic awareness of balance, of equilibrium between all the important things going on in my life, my goals, my responsibilities, my health, my recovery, my resources, kind of at a given time having the right proportions of time, energy, attention, resources devoted to the right things at a given time.
For me life balance is at a higher overview layer, as an overall strategic plan, which takes its lead from my values, life priorities, needs, goals. With a more active management layer that is always on, kind of driving the ship, be that month to month, week to week as well as daily, keeping an eye on all areas and taking care of any course corrections, if an area if going off too far, bringing it back in, or putting more resources to somewhere else, kind of an ongoing prioritisation.
What I have observed a lot with peoples interpretation of life balance and indeed the words themselves lean you in the direction of life balance being a centre point of balance, of calmness, for instance the word life balance next to a picture of someone meditating. Striving for maintaining that constant center line of balance (as in the picture above).
One point many I have helped have found useful in the way I view life balance, especially in the context of high achievement and peak performance is that balance is not the constant middle road, with equal energy, be that ying (water, stillness, introspection, recovery etc), and yang (fire, action, drive, expending energy). Nor is it a constant even distribution of your time energy etc devoted equally to all the important areas of your life at the same time.
I do not view it as a constant either, for example at times I will be driving hard towards a goal for a few weeks, where at that time balance is achieved by a reduction of for example time allocated to other areas of my life for that period of time, I will be dominant in yang (fire/ action) energy. However the week after I will ensure I spend time in other areas of my life and have some time in ying (water/ recovery, stillness) energy, to counter the previous 3 weeks. So if you imagine the centre point in a road as a balance or even in time, or ying/ yang focus, at times I will be off to the left and others to the right for periods of time, however I will manage this so that I am not over to yang too long (i.e. towards burning –out), or towards ying too long (towards getting nothing done). It might be this process of management that may best describe what life balance is for me. I also view balance over a year, with a sub layer of a flow of balance within the months and weeks as seen with athletes and how they train for peak performance.
Balance at any given time will be relative to each person, but from an overview peak performance view the effective management, or creation of balance towards what areas need your focus and resources at any given time will lead to high performance, I propose that a linear, even balance as a constant would cause you more stress and lower levels of performance (I will cover this point more in a future article).
A point to note is that my default makeup is very overview, strategic big picture and forward viewing. So for me to view things from a high point strategically, over the next year ahead is a natural place to reside. However for others thinking about three months ahead is a push. So my view of balance may likely need adjustment to be right for you, just take any elements you find helpful and modify time frames and focus as required. I will cover some more topics relating to this subject, think of this as an initial question to get you thinking.
Consider the concepts raised here and think about what life balance means to you.
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About the author, Shaun Mckeown: could be labeled as a performance strategist, or coach, or a life balance specialist. In essence Shaun is a strategic, creative problem solver, with a holistic view. He has over 15 years professional experience helping people with health, well-being, sport performance, reducing stress and life balance. He has a BSc.(Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Science, as well as experience coaching and teaching in exercise conditioning, holistic lifestyle and nutrition, sport performance and Reiki. So has both science and holistic perspectives.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Shaun Mckeown, disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.
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