We all know that life is legitimately crazy and that, thanks to the world we live in, it will likely forever be that way. So how, in the midst of all of the craziness, are we supposed to find and keep balance throughout life’s many hills and valleys?
My husband was at a large Q&A conference a few years back where the question was posed to the (very accomplished and polished) presenter, “How do you stay balanced?” His answer was one that stuck with my husband and something, since he’s shared it with me, I think about very often.
He said to imagine that you are a plate spinner spinning several plates at one time. In order for every plate to remain spinning, they each need attention and individual manipulation. He referred each priority, task, and facet of our lives to individual plates spun by a plate spinner.
Plate spinning, while maybe not the easiest of entertainments, is a very simple visual that has made such a difference in the way I view how I’m balancing my life. Yes, I have a lot of plates spinning. And yes, at times it seems incredibly overwhelming. But thinking of my life as a simple (okay, not very simple) display of merriment, definitely helps me visualize and simplify.
Finding the “perfect balance” is circumstantial and can and will easily change day-by-day or week-by-week. Some days, one plate will need ample amounts of attention, while other days you may hardly touch it. One week you may be incredibly focused on three specific plates, and the next week you decide one of those plates doesn’t actually need to be there so you remove it from your plate spinning collection all together, whether for a time or permanently.
Some plates you may not like very much but it remains necessary to keep them spinning. Some plates you may absolutely LOVE but because of all of the others around, you aren’t able to give them as much attention as you’d like. Some plates may be incredibly wobbly from under spinning and some may be getting tipsy from too much spinning. Some plates are on higher sticks that are trickier to reach and maintain, while some are down lower and take hardly any effort to keep them going. Some plates will crash because you consciously let them, and some plates will crash and leave you a bit heartbroken, stressed, or unsure of what to do next.
This analogy of plate spinning makes a lot more sense than the typical idea of balancing, where you have two sides and need to keep each propped up to the perfect level or else everything will come crashing down. There is a heck of a lot more than two things going on in our lives at one time, so it’s cruel to view balancing our lives as something as obtuse as a teeter-totter or balancing scales. However, plate spinning doesn’t always have to be as complex as it sounds. The vast majority of the time, our plates are doing pretty darn okay by themselves and just need a few tuneups now and then.
As for deciding which plates need more attention? Well, it’s pretty simple. Which ones look like they’re struggling and could use a helping hand? Which ones have you neglected for way too long - long enough that you feel like something is missing? Which plates could go on a bit longer without you, giving you time to care for other, more important plates?
Perhaps this article has made your plate spinning duties seem that much more daunting, or perhaps you maybe feel like, "Hey, I can do this!" But do you want to hear the very best part about your plate spinning act? There are no rules anywhere that say you have to keep your plates spinning all by yourself. And if you find yourself needing help, by all means - ask for help!
Finding the perfect balance is both very hard and very simple at the same time. Don't overthink it. Don't stress too much. Just keep spinning those plates and doing the best you can.