One of the most frequent questions I get about being a modern nomad is, “How do you balance everything?” I’ve sat on this topic for several months because I wanted to see if there was A Few Right Answers on finding and maintaining balance. There isn’t. Instead, I’m going to share my stories and what I’ve learned about balance.
The Definition of Balance Changes All the Time
If you think back to when you were young, you most likely did not have many responsibilities. All you really had to worry about was finding your tribe, excelling at school, and figuring out how to spend all your other hours before bedtime. It’s when we move into our 20s that we have to juggle more things, including personal finance, social networks, and career progression.
I was one of those people who always needed to be doing something, and thought that I could do everything. My mindset after college was: max out hours at work, have a pretty full social calendar, squeeze in at least 5 workouts a week, and also do something to further personal growth. I burned out pretty quickly and had to adjust. Changing my priorities gave me some balance, but soon I felt the itch to do something more, and got into creating YouTube videos and restarting this blog. At some point, I hit a wall again cause doing all those things felt like having 2.5 jobs.
Even though I shifted priorities, I still burnt out because balance changes all the time. Whenever you feel off balance, look at what you’re doing, figure out what you want to be doing, and then decide what things should change in order for you to get there. Even as I am writing this, I am reviewing what’s on my plate now and how to adjust to achieve my short-term goals.
I came across a quote in Kobe Bryant’s book, “The Mamba Mentality”, which captures the nuance of balance.
“It’s akin to walking a tightrope. Your legs are shaky and you’re trying to find your center. Whenever you learn too far in one direction, you correct your course and end up overleaning in the other direction. So, you correct by leaning the other way again. That’s the dance.”
I’ve heard many people say that quote in different ways, but essentially, balance is an illusion. You have to constantly reassess and recalibrate what you focus on. There’s no such thing as permanent balance.
Anything can Knock You Off Balance
There are so many reasons and things that can rattle you.
Me becoming a modern nomad. I couldn’t do things the way I did when I still had an apartment because I don’t anymore. This change made me think differently about space and materialism, my spending habits, and what I wanted to get most out of life. A life-altering event could be one that you made a conscious decision about, or could be one that you had no choice in.
I lose motivation and drive at times on my road trip. It’s happened 4 or 5 times so far. When that happens, I do the bare minimum in life while I let my body and soul rest, then evaluate my priorities.
Comparing yourself to others
It’s easy to look at someone else and say, “Ugh, they don’t look like they’re struggling.” Hey. You never know. Maybe yes, maybe no. Let’s focus on you again.
When you are knocked sideways, don’t beat yourself up too much about it. It happens to everyone. Take whatever time you need to get yourself mentally prepared to charge ahead.
On Finding Balance: Just Move and Be Flexible
There’s not one right answer to finding and maintaining balance. It’s different for everybody. But from my personal experience and witnessing those around me, I believe there are only 2 things that you need to do: just move and be flexible.
As long as you have an idea of what you want or don’t want in your life, start moving. Don’t wait until you have the answers to questions like “What do I want to do with my life?” because you may not know the answer now, but you sure as heck won’t figure it out by standing still and theorizing. Life is full of surprises. Once you start moving, you’ll eventually get to where you need to be.
Try something different. If you recognize that you do things a certain way and it yields similar results each time, then do something different. Take on a challenge and discover your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. Change your mindset. Instead of saying “but I don’t”, try saying “and I could”. If you hit a dead end, then pivot. Hitting that dead end is just proof that you tried something and are learning, and that’s better than doing nothing at all.
Shifting from “You vs. Me” to “Me vs. Me” Mindset
Maybe the original question “How do you balance everything?” doesn’t get to the heart of what people really want to know. I think it’s more of “Why does it look like you’re doing so much with such ease?”
Just like riding a bike: fall enough times and you get a good feel of when you start to lose balance so you can correct yourself. Like I said previously, what you do to regain balance may be different each time and varies from person to person, but there are things you can do to quickly regain balance.
The one thing I found most helpful is to stop comparing myself to others. We each have our own paths in life, and it does not make sense to compare mine to somebody else’s. This doesn’t make me less competitive – I just compete with my old self now. I listened to a podcast episode that perfectly summed this up. I highly recommend everyone to listen to it, even if you are balanced right now.
What are your thoughts on balance?