Do you crave balance? That middle ground where you feel both calm and vibrant? That place where you feel amazing in your body, mind, and spirit? The magical point where confidence, gratitude, and joy collide?
Maybe you lead a fairly well-balanced life but occasionally get a little off track. Or, perhaps a challenge or change in your life has caused you to lose your balance altogether. I know how you feel. Many times in my life, I’ve struggled with the day-to-day challenges that build up and create a cumulative effect of stress. I’ve also dealt with a sudden major life change where everything felt out of whack. If I didn’t learn how to regain my balance in life, health, relationships, and career, everything would suffer.
Today, I’d like to share a powerful tool to help you become aware of where you may be off balance. Awareness is the beginning of change and correction that will help you bring your life back toward that middle ground, back to a well-balanced life. It’s a visual tool and of course, it involves a bike. Or a bike wheel, to be specific!
When we examine the wheels of a bike, each wheel has an inner hub and an outer rim, which are connected by a series of spokes.
Bicycle Spokes as a Tool for Balance
- Work together to support and evenly distribute the weight of the rider.
- They are designed to handle much weight or pressure (think STRESS) without breaking.
- If one spoke bends or breaks – All the other spokes take on more of the load, and each spoke becomes more vulnerable.
Think about each spoke as a priority or a passion in your life – the things that you require for YOUR healthy lifestyle and for your emotional and mental health:
- Regular Exercise or Movement
- Relationships (partner, kids, parents, friends, co-workers)
- Spiritual relationships – connection to God/Universe/Spirit/Source
- Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi
- Career and a healthy work-life balance
- Self-care and self-love (most neglected)
- Nature – the water, the forest, feeling your toes in the grass or sand
- Solitude (downtime or quiet time)
- Music and/or art
It’s important to know your personal spokes when seeking balance in life. They may be different than mine or you may have some that are a different priority than mine.
The Wheels-to-Wellness Tool
The beauty of this wheels-to-wellness tool is that we can examine our spokes when we feel off balance. We can go through and assess how we feel about each one. Some will feel light at times and good. Others will feel heavy, bent or even a bit broken.
Knowing your spokes and what YOU require to feel good, you can quickly go to work to bring things back into balance.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a little off balance. I realized that a few of my spokes – rest, play, & nature – were a little bent. I was neglecting this requirement in my life. So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks focusing on them.
I’ve been going to bed early and sleeping late. I’ve been taking naps. Some days in my car, other days on the floor of my office. It wasn’t always ideal, but it was necessary. And I’m starting to feel rested, restored, and rejuvenated.
I’m also combining play with nature. I grew up on the water in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York. No matter what was going on in my life or the turmoil or angst I felt inside if I got out on the water, I felt everything would be ok. As a child, it was on my dad’s ski/motorboat, or water skiing, or sitting by the pool. Later on, it was kayaking. When I met my husband, Jim, he introduced me to the healing power of the ocean. This summer, I’m finding myself on my stand-up paddleboard (SUP) as often as possible. It’s part of what heals me and brings me back into balance in this season of my life.
Combining Spokes for Balance
You may feel overwhelmed as you consider all your spokes and areas of your life that need immediate attention. Your Wheels to Wellbeing are not something you tackle or resolve overnight. Depending on how long you’ve been stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out, finding your balance may take weeks, months, or even years.
Some areas I’ve brought to your attention may not interest you right now. That’s okay. Reexamine your spokes in a year. Assess them at key milestones in life and each new season. This is a tool to make New Year’s Resolutions and birthday wishes with more intention. It is a means to ask yourself, “Which spoke do I want to work on this year?”
You may ask yourself, “How do I fit it all in? How do I live a productive life with a busy schedule and find the time to manage each individual spoke?”
Just check in and assess regularly. Pivot when you need to. Sometimes, you react and respond to whatever needs your focus and attention right now.
Multitask for Balance
And, you multitask. Find ways to combine your spokes.
You only have so many hours in a day and so much to do, which can mean something important gets dropped. You schedule date nights, family time, and workouts. Then you try to work in socializing with friends, self-time, God time, and work or producing time. Suddenly, life is very full, or even overfull. This is one area where multitasking can come in handy.
Traditionally, relationships are built around food and drinking. Consider family gatherings and reunions. They often center on foods or holiday meals. Socializing at work typically means celebrating birthdays—with cake—or year-end parties, retirements or holiday events. All have a focus on food. When you get together for a friend’s night out, it is often at a bar, coffee shop, or lunch outing. Date night involves dinner or a picnic. And while prayer and meditation don’t necessarily mean food, it often means being sedentary.
Interweave Relationship Building With Activities
Your overall health and wellness will improve by combining your spokes by interweaving relationship building with activities. You will partner and collaborate with the important people in your life and your inner hub while improving time management and making managing a busy life easier. Check out the following examples and see where you apply these combinations to your life.
Building a relationship with God, your higher power, or your spiritual side doesn’t have to be done sitting or indoors. My friend Scarlett begins daily by walking up the mountain in her backyard, where she communes with God. Nurture your spiritual relationship while walking, practicing yoga, skiing across an open field as the sun rises, or kayaking across a serene lake as the sun sets.
My husband led me to rediscover and rekindle my love of biking. Our date nights are often date rides. Some are fast, some involve hills, and some are long destination rides to see something new. For you and your great love, experiment with activities you can teach each other or learn something new together. Some ideas include biking, kayaking, mini golf, hiking, or dancing.
Encourage the members of your family to move more. Make being active together fun. Consider family walks, a ride or run for charity, paddle boating or paddleboarding, relay races or team triathlons. As a child, my family enjoyed bike rides and canoe rides. Another family I knew did a team triathlon together.
Examples of Combining Spokes for Balance
My friend Janie leads a fun and vibrant life. You’ll find her hiking up a local mountain three days a week with as many as five or six of her girlfriends. My friend Luna rises at 4:30 a.m. twice a week to meet seven of her girlfriends for a run before it gets hot. There have been times I’ve met two or three girlfriends at the gym twice a week. If you have enough friends, you could join or form a soccer team. For a special treat, try trapezing or aerial fitness and performance.
If you work with a team of colleagues or co-workers, softball leagues are popular, as are charity events that involve walking, biking or golf. For those more adventurous, you could experience a team-building event such as a low or high ropes course. Grab a colleague and go for a walk at lunchtime. Talk to your HR department about their wellness programs. Their initiatives may pay for a yoga class, Zumba® or other fitness classes during the workday, lunch hour, or before and after the workday.
With life’s demands, it is easy to forget about the important relationship with yourself. As much as your alone time can be quiet and still, it can also be in activities, including walking, running, hiking, horseback riding, biking, snowshoeing, skiing, or gardening.
Knowing What You Want
Above all, ask for what you want and be willing to create what you want. Consider hosting a weekly Sunday brunch or Friday pizza night to spend more time with family and friends. Let people know you have an open-door policy where everyone is invited and there is always room for one more. I suggest they bring their favorite brunch item, pizza topping, or beverage of choice. Perhaps once a month, you focus on healthy eating and discuss what that means to each of you.
Start a monthly supper club, book club, bible study, wine or adventure or art and craft night for you and your girlfriends. Take turns picking the restaurant, meal theme, book, or activity. Invite people from your inner hub and outer circle to join you at a comedy club, take dance lessons, or do a quarterly neighborhood clean-up. Volunteer at an animal or homeless shelter or food bank.
There are many ways to nurture relationships and combine them with the important spokes of your Wheels to Wellbeing, such as exercise, nutrition, play, the outdoors, dance, and service to others. Being present, finding peace, and laughing with intention are creative ways to think about building and celebrating the important relationships in your life and can have a huge impact on a balanced lifestyle.
What Are Your Spokes?
Let’s end with a helpful exercise: Take a minute and write down YOUR top spokes. Think about what brings you joy, what makes you laugh, what revitalizes you. What makes you feel like you have balance in life? And start to bring more of these things into your daily life.
Know your spokes. Trust your spokes, And pay attention to them. Keep them in good working condition. Remember, it’s not about perfection. It’s about consistency!
If you can relate to this, please comment below. I’d love to hear your takeaways and what you consider your most important spokes to be.
And, If you know others can benefit from this topic, please share it!
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