I’ve always been someone who loves structure and, at the same time, my connection to being creative wants space to shine. When I’ve worked with clients who are very creative, I often find that they are “all over the place” and struggle to get things done because of the idea that creativity flows organically in unstructured environments. This balance of creating, doing, and allowing things to happen is something I have struggled with as well.
How do you measure if you are balanced?
This year I’d like to focus on being intentional with creating that balance of being and doing, creating and allowing, and being connected internally and externally. Taking myself through my own process of establishing how connected I am to my values and what goals I want to create for myself will be my first steps. Then it will be an ongoing practice of balancing these worlds of creating and allowing with deliberate intention, challenging myself, and tracking my growth.
Let’s look more at what that means and other ways we can strike balance in our lives this year.
Creating vs Allowing
The concept of creating can also be seen as “doing,” where we focus on our external world and getting things done. It can mean creating a list of desired outcomes, both internally (like being more accepting of others) and externally (working on writing each day). Once these goals have been created, the brain looks for areas where there is disconnect between what you want and where you are. Zindel Segal calls this process “discrepancy mode.” Seeing if this gap is getting bigger or smaller is a way for you to shift your action to align more with what you want to create.
Using this approach for the external world is great. However, getting into this “should” mode, and wanting things to be different on an internal level can cause depression. Looking at your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sense of self is not helpful in doing mode the way it is in being mode. Jennifer B. Monahan talks about how focusing on what you want to be has more depth than on what you do. When you balance being and doing, you are spiritually aligned and in a flow of creating and being present to what is without trying to change it.
Doing then is focusing on what you do. And being is who you are. If we relate this concept to creating and allowing, it’s about taking actions (creating) and allowing (being) opportunities, people, and ideas to come to us without forcing them.
Structure vs Going with the Flow
Intentionally planning your time each day, week, and month is fantastic. I find that many of my creative clients struggle with having structure since their need to go with the flow means nothing gets done. It’s understandable that a creative person connects deeply with curiosity and the present moment, which then takes them to places of wanting to create. However, it’s important to have structured times for focus; otherwise, you’ll end up floating around from one thing to another without intention or completion.
On the other hand, being too rigid in how you spend your time can come from a need to have certainty and control over a situation. Going outside of your comfort zone can be extremely scary and keeping things predictable allows for stability and certainty. However, going to extremes and having every moment of your day mapped out and formulated is not only unrealistic, it also affects the ability to stay open to possibility and opportunities.
This is why I love saying “flexibility within structure.” It’s the best of both worlds. On one hand you have a routine, mapped out goals that clearly define how you will be spending your time each day. On the other you are blocking out time, leaving room for life to happen, and allowing people, opportunities, and inspiration to come to you. It’s helpful to be clear on what you want and then to observe what’s going on inside of you and out while moving with the rhythm of life. It also means knowing when to act on opportunity and knowing when it’s another distraction pulling you away from your focus. Striking this balance then means you are in a flow moving in the direction of who you want to be and what you want to do.
Internal vs External Growth
Our inner worlds can consist of emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, sensations, intuition, and a general connection to the unseen world. It’s a place for reflection, growth, understanding, and an opportunity to live more consciously. To live only from this internal place though takes away from the 3D reality we live in. So again it’s about balancing the internal place of being and connecting with external growth.
External growth can look like being financially secure, being able to purchase things when you need them, and growing your business. These connect to that sense of doing. Whereas the internal growth connects back to being. Moving in and out of these states can be a beautiful way to flow through life with ease. I like how Michelle Zarin puts it: “True growth comes from within.” This is where we see true change. Because if we only focus on changing our external world, not much will change because we haven’t looked within to see what our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, stories, and sense of self is.
So how do you balance both? If you are nervous doing a big presentation for the first time, you might notice what’s going on in your body, mind, and deeper self. After you’ve taken note, you could put it aside while you continue to move through the experience. Then later on, reflect on what you noticed and what it means to you, along with looking at it from a perspective of growth. Ask yourself, how can I grow internally from that experience and how can I grow externally from that experience. The key is to be connected to both and make time to process each in a way that works for you.
How to Strike Balance
1. Make yearly, monthly, weekly, daily goals
Be clear on which goals are “external” and which tasks require an external focus and “doing” mode. For example, wanting to increase your sales for your business. Then map out goals for each month around each goal. When you practice your sit-down-Sunday (planning and organizing your week) you can break that month goal down further to what you want to focus on for the week.
When looking at internal growth, write down how you want to grow, what you need to be to make it happen, and how you want to feel. For example, “I want to be accepting of others, have more fun, and be more patient. I will make intentions each day that will support me in being that way.” Together these internal and external goals are more meaningful because they come from a place of intention, balance, and growth.
2. Block off time for socials and other distractions
I watched an informative video by Brendon Burchard and liked how he calculated what 30 to 90 mins a day of a habit (good or bad) looks like in terms of a year. It adds up to about 1 to 3 months of a work week. This is exactly my thinking around a little bit here and a little bit there. Whether it’s your spending, shopping online, eating, or time on socials, it adds up. Think about how you could be spending your time on what you want to create instead of wasting time with mindless distractions.
The other thing to consider here is why are you reaching for that distraction? Is it a sense of inability to do a task? Do you need to have some connection time with someone? What do you need in order to complete the task? What are you telling yourself that’s causing you to move away from your current task? Answering these questions will help you be more intentional and on top of habits that take you away from your intentions and goals.
3. Be intentional and start journaling
Dreaming big doesn’t mean you have to accomplish every goal you set out for yourself. It’s a state of mind that allows you to be more creative, inspired, and have fun. When you spend time each morning doing your morning practice and visualizing your day, you create a clear focus of how and what you will do. This deeper connection to being intentional and feeling what you are doing before you do it also helps you be more present, centered, and focused. It gives you a chance to dream bigger and to challenge yourself even if it’s just one tiny step.
Another approach is to take some time to notice what you are feeling in your body, emotions, and thoughts. Are you getting stuck in a thought loop? Is an emotion taking over and preventing you from being and doing? If so, the power of journaling and meditation can transform your experience from something that is stressful and unbearable to something that is enlightening, gentle, and grounding.
4. Make time for inner connection and being
Deliberately making time to connect with yourself and the present moment will help you strike the balance of being and not getting too focused on doing.
This can be a tricky one. If you are pushing yourself too hard both externally and internally, then it’s natural that the brain needs a rest. What does this look like though? Is it binge watching a show, scrolling through social media, or watching a movie? I get it, it’s nice to have a break. I too will sometimes get in the habit of watching a show 30 minutes a day. However, how can I use that time differently so that it’s not mindless? How can I do something that is nurturing and relaxing without having to use a screen?
I want to have this down time in such a way where I can do things that are relaxing and don’t require me to look at a screen. That’s why I’m being more intentional with my goals. That’s why I consciously choose to draw, journal, read, sit in silence, or go for a walk to recharge before watching something on my computer (which in all fairness is not a huge part of my life). I want to up the ante, especially since in winter it’s so easy to just cozy up on the sofa and watch something.
I’ve shared some of my strategies to challenge myself more in the hopes that it inspires you to do the same. Take some time to answer the question below to help you get moving in the right direction.
How can you create more balance in your sense of being and doing this coming year?
What can you do to create space for both creating and allowing?
What do you want to be this year? And how do you want to grow this year?