“It’s easier to swim than to float.”

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“Well yeah, it’s easier to swim than float,” my sister texted back, a response to me reporting to her on my life coaching session.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have a life coach (hi, Kali!) who I love. She’s the best, and I’ve been working with her a little over a year now. She helped me through a job that I hated, a move that stressed me out, and, more importantly, in setting goals to crush.

Now, she’s helping me find balance. Actual balance. And, as it turns out, balance – or maintaining equilibrium or getting into a groove or whatever you want to call it – is really tough for me.

It’s easier to swim than float.

I function best all-in. When I’ve got a goal set, I pursue it like the golden snitch and I make that sucker happen. When I decided to run a marathon, to compete in a pageant, to become a teacher… It was as good as done. I completed my long runs, followed the meal plan, took a full course load while also working a full time job.

For up to four months at a time, I pursued each goal with laser focus – eating, sleeping, and breathing what I needed to do to achieve each goal. I was 100% all in all of the time. Even with my writing – when I sit down to write a piece (like this one), I typically just sit down and go — 45 minutes or so later, I hit publish, and that’s that.

Newsflash: 100% all in is not sustainable all the time. After a marathon, you have to give your legs a rest, and it’s pretty freakin’ tough (though not impossible) for one to survive on protein and fats alone for an extended period of time. They’re short-term intensive commitments to get you to the end goal as quickly as possible; they aren’t meant to last forever.

And so, when all-in becomes unsustainable, we have two choices: sink, or learn to float.

I think that I am afraid of balance. I subconsciously see it as settling, and I feel like settling isn’t much different from taking steps backwards.

But here’s the thing: floating doesn’t always happen in one place. In fact, most of the time, when you’re floating, you’re allowing yourself to be carried with the tide, slowly – but surely – finding your way back to shore.

Here’s a few steps I’m taking to claim some balance in my life while I’m between majorlifegoals:

Set guidelines, but allow room for slip-ups. One area of my life that has been a constant challenge for me is my eating. I tend to be 100% on a meal plan – aka no treat meals ever – or treating myself to daily donuts and crappy candy that I don’t really need. In an effort to give myself the structure I crave while also working to ween myself off of it, I’m beginning the Whole30. By focusing on eating healthy, unprocessed foods, I’m prioritizing nutrition while minimizing the junk, while also not getting obsessive about it. The biggest key for me is recognizing that I won’t be perfect on it — and that’s okay.

Use your willpower to your advantage. One of my goals for this year was to really get my finances in check. For the last three months, I’ve been totally obsessed with listening to Dave Ramsey and working my way through his baby steps — including sticking to a monthly budget, which I build in EveryDollar. Because I’m so committed to it, I’m minimizing my “eating out” budget in an effort to avoid those daily donuts. My commitment to crushing my finances beats out my desire to splurge on sugar every time.

Enlist help. I think everyone should have a life coach. Or a therapist. Or both. Life is confusing and overwhelming and sometimes makes you fall flat on your face, and it’s really helpful to have a third party help you sort through it. I love Kali and Blush Online Life Coaching because I can meet later at night in my PJs. If you’re into that, you can sign up here — tell them “Jen Gilbert” referred you and we’ll both get a free session. I also do a little bit of coaching, and you can learn more about how I can help here.

The floating isn’t forever — I’m sure to have a new goal to crush soon — but learning to do it well is crucial to a happy, balanced, and fulfilling life. Here’s to finding a pool noodle or an inner tube for when the floating gets really tough.

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