Minutes after being dropped off at College I was asked to a party. As a new freshman I felt excited and yet uncertain about attending “The Last Bash Before Summer Ends.” It was the night before classes began and while tempted, I decided not to go. I figured there would be other parties. Truthfully, I had no idea.
I was already juggling a lot; my parent’s divorce, living on campus, a new roommate, eating at the dining hall, doing my own laundry, working a new part-time job and going to class. Honestly, I was apprehensive about my new college life. There was a lot to manage and I’d already been warned that the majority of my freshman class would drop out.
After finishing my courses the next day, I walked back to my room feeling less anxious and relieved I’d made it everywhere on time. Opening the door to the dormitory, I was besieged with loud music and a group of guys hurriedly making posters in the hall for tonight’s “First Day of School Party.” I checked my watch and the pre-party to the party had already begun at two in the afternoon.
I was having a tough time finding balance; everything was competing for my time, attention and energy. Years later when I visited the Ringling Brothers museum in Sarasota, Florida I learned they actually taught juggling classes. The College of Business at my University didn’t. Instead, they taught us about negotiating tradeoffs.
Tradeoffs is a simple concept of trying to find balance. Openly trading one thing for another is the founding premise of the idea. In college freshman terms; it was the choice to party vs. attending class. I accepted the paradigm and tried in vain to find balance.
For years, I attempted two-ball juggling acts like; time vs. money, work vs. home, spouse vs. kids. The problem was straightforward; I was faced with more balls, in the form of additional choices and alternatives, than I could juggle. It didn’t matter this method was doomed to never work, it was all I had. In the end I was a performer trying to juggle while standing on a ball. Seeking a more balanced foundation, I now looked for the perfect environment.
I began searching for the perfect place to; work, live, raise kids and succeed. After moving a dozen times it never once occurred to me that I was unbalanced. I knew I wasn’t quite happy or content but I attributed that to not finding the perfect place.
Then a revelation. Finding balance meant coming back to the balance in me. But what if my compass was off? How would I ever find my center if I’d never ever really experienced true balance? I was deeply concerned. How would I find it now?
It was within me where I found the secret to balance – not just for me – but in everything. Instead of managing tradeoffs as I had practiced -I let it all go. This is easy to write and even easier to read but it’s a pivotal key to long lasting balance.
Once I finished with competitively juggling one thing for another a huge shift transpired. I discovered real balance to be deeply internal. Focusing on my internal balance allowed me to be naturally centered. The result was everything external aligned.