Print Icon

Prefer to listen to this message? Click here for audio recording.

Missed an email? Links to read messages can be found here.


Trying to achieve "balance" isn't helpful.

And it's a myth anyway.

Message 10, January, 2021

Dear Guest,

I want to start today by telling you something that actually is true: you are already doing a good job. You need to hear me saying this to you. Whatever roles you have in this lifetime, you are doing them to the best of your ability at this moment in time. And you can also make different choices if you want to.

I need to tell you this because I know there are a lot of loud voices out there telling caregivers we aren’t doing enough, we aren’t giving enough. And what we are doing, we aren’t doing well enough. Most especially, there are a lot of voices telling us that our caregiver responsibilities should be the focus of our time. Oh, and that we should really try harder to take care of ourselves by living a “balanced” life, too - and shame on us if  we’re not.

Many years ago, when I still struggled to believe I was doing a good job at anything, I spent a lot of time playing the balance game with my time.  I honestly bought into the pop culture darling advice that says time is a resource that we are supposed to schedule the “right” way so it can be balanced. 

Believing I could magically achieve balance made everything in my life look like a no-win scenario.

I couldn’t see that believing in balancing my life and time was keeping me from looking for possibilities - like the possibility that trying to achieve balance was the wrong darling advice for me. Because instead of taking action right then, even while my life was so very un-balanced, I put a lot of effort into trying to achieve balance so that I’d eventually have time to go after my dreams.

For me, the darling idea of balancing my time and my life was a diversion - and a highly effective one, too - that kept me from going after my dreams. I don't think anybody else has the right to tell you whether or not the way you spend your time is balanced. What does that even mean? And why does their opinion make a difference?

Even if all the science in the world tells us that the happiest people tend to do such-and-such for X minutes a day, or have this morning routine that lasts X number of minutes and consists of these specific activities, it still might not be the right thing for you. The only person who can determine the best way to spend and invest your time is you.

I think the truth is that the happiest people create their happiness by spending their time and energy in ways that are meaningful to them, according to their own internal compass.

And speaking of time and balance, many caregivers (just like parents) don’t really get to choose how many hours per day of care their loved ones need or what that care looks like. We get to choose whether or not we provide the care ourselves or enlist the help of others (paid or unpaid), but the specific total amount of time required isn’t up to us. (Yes, we do get to choose - anybody who says you don’t have a choice is telling you a terrible story.)

So yes, I do have a choice about what I spend my time doing, and you have a choice too. Most nights, I choose to cook dinner, eat with my family and deliver a plate to my mom (I am writing this while the pandemic is still raging, and we can’t actually eat with her right now). But during the day, I usually choose to let everybody fend for themselves or ask somebody else for help so that I can work on my business and serve my clients. And some evenings, I don’t spend time with my family because I choose to schedule client sessions instead. And then there are the evenings when my mom cooks for us and I ask one of my teenagers to run over and grab it from her when it’s ready (I love those nights)!

There are many people who tell me I am wrong to schedule my life this way and that when I look back years from now, I will feel sorry I didn’t spend more time with my mom, kids, and husband. But those people don’t understand that I have dreams and goals and I know in my gut I am serving and loving myself and my family (not to mention my clients!) in the best way possible. A lot of people (heck, maybe our entire culture) think I should feel guilt and shame for making choices to put myself and my business first a lot of the time, but that’s not up to them to decide.

You, my friend, get to decide for yourself how you want to spend your time so you can live a more fulfilling life. No “balance” is required! Whatever that means to you, I already believe in you and I support your choices.

In the next message, I’m going to tell you about something I still struggle with that blocks me from seeing a lot of possibilities. I want to share this with you because it’s a tough one and I’m working through it right now, because I want to be at peace and be free.

Please let me know how this is working for you, or if you have any thoughts or  questions, by leaving a comment here.

Kay Coughlin


The more the merrier! Forward this email to a caregiver you know or invite them to sign up any time here


Copyright 2020, Facilitator On Fire, Galena, OH, 43021, 614.426.8062

Want to change how you receive these emails?

you can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.