We’re closing in on the end of the alphabet in the A-Z of Simple Living series. If you’ve been following for a while, you will understand by now that simple living is not only about decluttering. It’s about stripping away things, thoughts and ideas that aren’t important and embracing those that help free us.
‘T’ is for Tilting
Tilting isn’t normally seen as a good thing. It’s something strange and off-putting. It’s even something to be feared, because anything that’s tilting is surely unstable. Think the Tower of Pisa or Google’s search page if you click here.
The reason we think tilting is bad is that we’ve been fed the myth of balance for too long. We think that to be in control means to be balanced across all areas. No leaning. No wavering. No tilting.
To me, and those of you who have read my book, ‘Destination: Simple’ have heard this already, tilting is a positive. And it’s definitely preferable to being balanced.
Essentially it’s denying the idea that everything needs to be perfectly balanced. That we need to perfectly manage the needs of everyone and everything in our life, every day. And that anything less is a failure.
But What About Finding Balance?
If you look at balance as something you need to achieve every day – keeping the scales evenly weighted between your partner, your kids, your family, friends, yourself, your spirituality, health, keeping the home, your work – you simply won’t be able to do it. Because each day brings different challenges, different tasks and different needs from your life.
I am here to tell you that this balancing act is a complete myth. And you should forget about achieving it, because you won’t.
Instead, you need to learn to tilt. To willingly throw things out of balance. And, importantly, to be OK with that.
Actually, you need to embrace it.
A Definition of Tilting
‘Tilting’ is an idea I discovered on Sarah Wilson’s blog and it struck me as wholly sensible, simple, beautiful, flexible and forgiving.
A 2009 study by Marcus Birmingham asked the question “What are happy women doing differently?” And the response was not – as you may imagine – somehow striking the perfect balance between work/life/health/family/passions/spirituality.
“These happy women… realised that balance was impossible (and therefore stressful) to achieve, but also rather boring. Instead, they “tilted” towards activities and commitments they liked and found meaningful.
I love this idea. Tilting.
And here’s why: tilting doesn’t require putting the brakes on.
Braking constantly is exhausting. Saying “no” is exhausting and doing things for balance, rather than because it matters to you is, frankly, martyrish.
Tilting on the other hand is a positive flow forward, a moving “with” life.”
Sarah Wilson — sarahwilson.com.au
Essentially it’s about being aware of the changing pressures of life and being flexible.
Your kids are happy to play independently – tilt towards catching up on tasks around the house.
Your kids are sick, or needy, or plain grumpy, meaning you can’t get anything done except the very basics. Tilt towards supporting the kids and being extra mindful of what’s going on for them.
Your partner is under added pressure at work. Tilt towards lessening the load on them at home.
You need to recharge. Tilt towards being kind to yourself and letting go of the things that don’t help with that.
You need to regain order at home. Tilt away from social engagements and towards time at home.
You have a busy time at work. Tilt towards simple meals, light home duties and simple rhythms.
See what I mean?
Tilting allows you to focus on what is important in the moment.
If this idea still makes you feel uncomfortably off-kilter, it can help to take a longer view of things. That is, instead of battling to find balance every day, it’s more important to create it over a month. Or a year.
How Do You Tilt?
It’s not a matter of learning a step-by-step approach. It’s more about adopting the mindset of tilting and keeping the idea in the back of your mind.
It’s about understanding – and accepting – the fact that you can not and will not ever achieve perfect balance. And what’s more, you probably wouldn’t want to.
Achieving and then maintaining a state of balanced perfection would be incredibly stressful and unfulfilling. Instead you need to understand that your time is limited and valuable. And you can choose where to place your energies, depending upon where they need to be.
Ask yourself, what are your priorities in life?
- caring for your kids, physically and emotionally?
- supporting your partner?
- being there for your family when they need you?
- maintaining social relationships with friends?
- working or creating to nourish yourself?
- looking after your own health and well being?
- finding contentment in life?
- creating a home that is calm, warm and open to all those you love?
Then, one-by-one, think about how you have given each of those priorities time, effort and attention over the past six months.
Do they stack up? Do you feel confident that, over this period of time, you are giving them the attention they deserve? Are there any areas that don’t get enough from you? Can you see times where you consistently tilt the wrong way?
Keep in mind, you are the only one who can decide what this balance looks and feels like for you.
But if you keep your priorities in mind, you will find that tilting and adjusting your time and efforts will help you find a much better overall balance, than if you constantly battle to keep things even.
Do you think there is such a thing as good work/life balance? How do you try to achieve it in your life?
The A-Z of Simple Living is a weekly series to inspire and motivate – regardless of how far into the simple living journey you are. You can find all posts in the series right here.