The Art of Balance: Lean In or Lean Out?

The Art of Balance: Lean In or Lean Out?

Would it be odd for me to admit that sometimes I feel pressure as I start my work for the day? Yes, it happens to me, too, despite doing professional and volunteer work I deeply love, I cannot maintain the art of balance. Being a Coach, I’m supposed to have my act together at all times?! What is going on there? Maybe it is part of the human experience.

It is Monday. Our family just spent a weekend seeing the NASCAR races while camping on the infield of the Texas Motorspeedway. On Saturday morning, I dashed to Plano (which required a 45-minute drive one way) to practice martial arts for two hours. My blue belt test is coming up next week. I am a little nervous. Am I ready? Do I deserve the next belt? This belt is only one away from a black belt, and I feel – well, imperfect.

This morning, my alarm clock went off at 5:40 am. I had to be out the door by 6:15 am and drive to Southlake, TX – that is a 25-drive from our home in Flower Mound. Or should I admit: I CHOOSE to do that. Why? Because I am part of our Toastmasters Club in Southlake. It is an excellent Club with wonderful people. We had a fantastic meeting.

I stopped by for a quick cup of coffee with my Toastmasters friends afterward and dashed home.
On the way home, I called one of our Toastmasters officers. It is time to work on who is our slate of officers for the next six months. The new term begins in January, and that date will be here before you know it. By now, I have been secretary, Vice President of Education, and now, President of the club. It is rewarding – and it also takes time.

We have hired cleaners who clean our house every two weeks. Thank God for their help. Yet, when they come, I have to make sure the house is ready for them to clean. Yes, that should happen on an ongoing basis but it doesn’t always happen.

Then I am sitting at my desk, writing today’s nugget. This one. A moment ago, it occurred to me: I am hungry. I forgot to eat breakfast. I’ll be right back.

Now, I have got my beloved Greek yogurt and blueberries with a sprinkle of “ancient grains.” I’m thinking about what is ahead of me today:

  • In an hour, I got an appointment with a client (I love that).
  • I have some financial things to take care of (not my favorite).
  • I promised to deepen one business relationship with someone each workday (that is a cool challenge – see yesterday’s nugget).
  • I need to prepare for an onsite visit with a new client.
  • Our son needs to be picked up from school and brought to the dentist.
  • I’m thinking about Dylan’s schoolwork – is he on top of his assignments?

Then, as I look at my calendar, it hits me. This week I will be

  • Giving a talk one evening,
  • Part of a team kicking off a “Lean In” event for powerful professional women in the Dallas/Ft. Wort area on another evening,
  • Line up and conduct several interviews for the Speaker’s Bureau (Chamber of Commerce, Lewisville)
  • Plan a leadership project with the Lewisville L36 class
  • Attend a Leadership Alumni mixer on another evening
  • Bring my car to the shop because it has developed some weird intermittent issue that needs to be tracked down and fixed
  • Go to the meeting of our fabulous Rotary Club
  • Practice for my Blue Belt test!
  • And, most of all: conduct my regular business activities plus
  • Do my best to be a good mom and wife.

I’m sure I am leaving something out. As I am thinking about all this, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong. I love all of these things (minus the car repair and the trip to the dentist). But I’m still feeling a bit overwhelmed.

What Causes Me Anxiety Are the UNSCHEDULED Things I Need to Do

Then something else occurs to me: I have scheduled the main activities on my calendar. What causes anxiety is the question of how I will do the things that are NOT scheduled.

What will I do about it? Great question.

  1. I will look at what needs to get done TODAY. There is a set amount of time that is not already scheduled. Which items can I take care of in that time? I am putting them into my calendar.
  2. I look at the rest of the activities. On which days and which times can they be scheduled?
  3. And: What could I delegate?

When we follow this method, we become clear:

  • How do I choose to spend my time?
  • Am I biting off too much?
  • Or the wrong thing?
  • What do I want to lean into more?
  • What do I want to lean out of?

My challenge is more on the “What do I want to lean out of?” part. On the upside, I can’t remember when last I was bored. 🙂

One more thing: I have also scheduled hiking with a friend at a nearby park. And a facial. I get a massage every two weeks. Selfcare is important. It is not a luxury but a must-have. No one benefits from you being run-down or sick. Noone. Least of all, the people who count on you.

I’m Curious

  • What do you want to lean into more?
  • What do you want to lean out of?
  • What methods for selfcare could you add to your life?

Stephie Althouse

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