The Path to Balance

By Jan Tanaka

We all know what it is like to feel out of balance with life.

When we are managing work, family, me-time, and all other priorities, it is easy to fall into a rut of frustration and stress. We lose our joy, our creativity, our productivity … our sanity … We claim victory if we do not collapse before the day is over.

I understand. I have plenty of balls to keep up in the air every day. I am a wife, a leader and a key decision maker. I have a job, I work out, and I teach night school. I juggle family, chores, social events, and … you get the idea. So how do I keep my cool, keep my schedule and my smile all at the same time?


When it seems like everyone and everything around you is shouting for your attention, you probably feel guilty if you try to shut them out. But the adage that says, “You cannot pour from an empty cup” is still around for a reason. All the things we feel guilty about? I give myself permission to do them.

PERMISSION to be still and quiet.

When our days are full and hectic, it can be hard to find time to be still and quiet. It helps if you dedicate a little space for this first thing in the morning before the day gets rolling.

This takes the form of 10 minutes of meditation for me. It might be journaling, reading, sketching or yoga for you. It is okay and healthy to take a little me-time. Go ahead and fill your cup with a little quiet before you dive into your day.

PERMISSION to visualize what you desire.

As I am getting showered and dressed and ready to greet the world, I imagine how I want my day to go.

Visualize all the details and the feelings of everything going your way. Do not be humble; know that you deserve all that goodness! Consider what steps you can take toward this experience and distinguish between the things you can and cannot control. Keeping a regular calendar or schedule book can help with this by ensuring you are organized and not overbooked.

PERMISSION to scroll through social media.

Yes. I went there.

When we are working, we know the world of social media is speeding along without us. We also know we are not supposed to be thumbing through Facebook and Instagram. But deprivation creates its own breed of distraction as we wonder what we may be missing out on. To counteract this issue, I set a timer on my phone that allows me 15 to 20 minutes to scroll to my heart’s content.

PERMISSION to take a break.

I often take a walk around the building to clear my head or go off-site to get lunch. The change of scenery helps me to unwind and recalibrate.

Revisit your quiet time preferences, if you like. Do some stretching or read a chapter of a book. Take a mindful moment with a piece of chocolate or breathing exercises. I also recommend turning your office into your sanctuary with music, decorations, candles … anything that makes you happy. A happy workspace creates serenity amidst chaos.

PERMISSION to not finish your task list.

Every night I review what I did and did not get accomplished, and no matter where the balance lies, I do not beat myself up over it. I remind myself that I did my best and that my “in box” will never be empty.

Celebrate what did get done.
Find things to be grateful for.
Feel into the promise of tomorrow.

Permission is neither a cure-all, nor an allowance for irresponsibility.

It is not going to smooth out all the bumps in the road ahead. And it is not an excuse for being lazy or careless. It is, however, the key to both reclaiming your joy and boosting your productivity. No matter what roles and responsibilities you are juggling, you can bring yourself back into balance by giving yourself permission to rest, to make mistakes, to be happy—to be human.