For many of us today, life feels too frantic. We open our eyes in the morning only to be greeted by the nagging sense that we’re already behind somehow. We feel exhausted by our efforts to stay ahead of life’s frenzied unfolding. We strive to achieve “better balance,” but end up filling our days with too many of the wrong things. We go to bed at night feeling exhausted and ever so slightly guilty, vowing to do it differently tomorrow, but the cycle continues.

The truth is, friends, I’m beginning to believe balance is a red herring. Maybe it doesn’t really exist. For all our whirling and juggling and chasing, maybe it’s not actually possible to give equal attention to our jobs and our children and our bodies and our homes and our passions and our faith and our deep work at the same time. Maybe it will always be the case that no matter how much energy we burn trying to even the scales, we will always feel as though something is falling through the cracks. Maybe we’ll never be able to choose which conflicting, but equally important fires may crop up around us in any given moment, demanding our equal and immediate attention.

But we can choose where to look.

We can let the urgency of our circumstances pull us mindlessly from urgent task to urgent task, or we can decide to focus first on the things that really matter. To observe the moments of our lives for what they are, instead of viewing them through the lens of what they can produce for us. To let go of our plan for what each moment should be achieving.

We can choose to see the child in front of us with outstretched arms, instead of the fact that we’re running late for school. We can welcome the inspiration when it strikes, instead of pushing it away for a more convenient time that may or may not ever come. We can open our hearts to wherever this conversation takes us instead of listening, only, for the words we’re wanting to hear.

We can do all this, friends— but there’s a catch.

Once we acknowledge that we have the power to choose our focus, we’re on the hook. Once we see that our lives unfold by choice, not by chance, we can’t un-see it. Because the empowering, yet sometimes inconvenient truth for all of us world weary balance chasers is this: no day, no week and certainly no life has the power to run away with us without our consent.