How to define "balance."

"We have to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter. But work is third." -Leslie Knope

I want you to be crystal clear about what the Balanced Teachers community is helping you build toward. What do we mean by "balance"?

First of all, "balance" can be a loaded concept. A lot of teachers I know (myself included) have spent years working toward a healthy division between work and everything else. We "fail" at balance, again and again and again. Grading at 9pm. Skipping lunch for parent meetings. Early morning alarm clocks to set up that day's review game before students arrive.

My (completely lovely, well-intentioned) friends like to tell me to just work less (or even better, to care less), but I don't see them volunteering to tell my principal about email boundaries or coming to drag me out of the school building before dinner time when awards assembly certificates aren't done. Unlike my hero Leslie Knope, work doesn't always come third.

So what is balance NOT? As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stewart once said about obscenity, "I know it when I see it." When you're far out of balance, you know it. You feel drained, overwhelmed, and worn down. You haven't slept well, or seen your best friend in a while, or kissed your significant other enough. You're snapping at students, or other teachers, or your pet. You've lost weight, or gained it, and you didn't mean to. You can't remember the last blog you read or podcast you listened to or yoga class you went to.

Balance, to me, is when your energy is aligned with the things that matter most to you. That doesn't necessarily mean your life follows a perfect pie chart every day - 40% school, 40% life, 30% sleep (come on, you know most teachers give 110%). But it's worth examining whether, overall, the distribution of your energy (time, attention, emotional power) reflects the things you know are most important to you.

If you spend 12 hours at school one day working on a badass project, and you are LIT UP when you leave, then I think you're probably still in balance. You can feel that. However, if you do that four days in a row and then have to grab fast food a bunch of times, skip your favorite workout class, and play a movie for third period on Friday because you're asleep in the corner? Maybe not so balanced.

Balance is not a finite destination. It's different from person to person, and from day to day within the same person.

As for the "ideal" we're all supposed to be working toward, where you feel like you're in perfect harmony all the time? Well, I have no problem telling you, that straight up doesn't exist. [OR, if it does, hit me up, because we want to talk to you on the podcast.]

BUT. But but but. There ARE proven practices you can adopt to feel MORE balanced MORE of the time, and that's where the Balanced Teachers community is here to help.

Leave a comment below sharing what a balanced day looks like for you. Does it include any pie? Or pie charts?

All the best,

M.