One of the biggest challenges that many of my clients bring to their coaching sessions revolves around achieving life balance. This is not surprising when you consider that we live in a world where there is so much going on, so many choices to make, and a myriad of demands on our time. Given the fast-paced nature of the world in which we live, how exactly does one achieve the ever-coveted state of “balance”? This article -- the first of a two-part series -- will start to guide you in the right direction.

The critical first step is to define what life balance actually is. As much as the phrase is a popular one, I’m willing to be that you aren’t able to clearly articulate its meaning. The reason for this is quite simple: balance looks different to each person. What looks like a balanced, manageable day for your best friend may look like complete chaos to you. So, it is essential that you get clear on what balance looks like for you. Ask yourself: what would be present in my life if things were more balanced? What would I be doing? How would I be feeling? Once you know the answers to these questions, then you’ve got a solid sense of what you’re aiming for. You’ve got a direction in which to head.

Which bring us to the second aspect of the definition. People often assume that “balance” is a state of being, a destination. The fact, however, is that it is not a destination but rather a direction. In every moment of every day you are presented with choices. The choices you make are either moving you in the direction of balance, or away from it. It behooves you to remember this because if you labour under the illusion that balance is a state of being then you can fail to recognize it when you actually have it. So, say it with me, and repeat it often: BALANCE IS A DIRECTION; IT’S NOT A DESTINATION.

The final piece of the definition is to remember that “balanced” does not equate to stress-free or perfect. Life, being what it is, will always have its ups and downs. When you are making choices that move you towards balance, however, the up-and-down moments don’t knock you off course; you simply move with them and take them in stride. Think about roller-coaster rides. There are some roller-coasters that send you to the place of complete nausea; you exit the ride and head for the nearest garbage can or washroom as quickly as possible. There are other roller-coasters, however, that leave you feeling absolutely exhilarated. There’s a thrill to the ride, even with its ups and downs. You know you can go back for more, and handle it just fine. In the same way, when your life choices are in line with what you want, and you’re moving towards balance more often than not, life’s ups and downs are just part of the journey.

Knowing how to define balance and recognizing what it actually means for you in your world is essential to being able to live a “balanced life”. Next time, we’ll explore what to do once you’re clear on what balance means for you. Until then, here’s an activity to do: create a collage that captures the essence of the life you’re creating. Make sure it speaks to who you are and how you want to be. Try to make it as full, rich and detailed as possible, covering all aspects of your life: personal, professional, relationships, hobbies, and even your physical environment. Then post this visual reminder of your balanced life in a prominent place, as a reminder of what you’re creating and living each day.. Happy collaging! Here’s to getting clear on how you want your life to be.

Author's Bio: 

Gail Barker is a Certified Professional Life Coach and Co-Author of The Control Freak's Guide to Living Lightly. Since 2002, Gail has supported hundreds of professional women, through coaching, workshops, and her monthly ezine, in shifting their lives from chaos to calm; her coaching practice revolves around the concept of ease. For Gail, life is all about having every person experience success on their terms. To this end, she invites you to ask yourself, "whose life are you living?", and if your answer is anything other than "my own", contact Gail Barker at to get on your own path to success.