You don’t need a balanced diet. Or a balanced life.

Eat clean, they tell me. Eat this..and don’t eat that. You need a balanced diet.

But it just doesn’t work that way for me. I am more of a go with the flow, intuitive eater. Eat when hungry or have a craving. Eat what you know will satisfy. Stop when satisfied. It all works out in the end and over time.

Today’s meals may be all out of whack but tomorrow’s or next week’s will probably (possibly) be a model of clean eating.

When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers ~ Ellyn Satter.

I argue, too, that the same goes for life. When the joy goes out of life, intention and meaning and purpose suffer. You can go all out, rise early, schedule blocks of time, use your most productive hours, religiously slot in workouts and meals and date night and time off, be a constant high-yielder, network, network, network. But in the end all this striving for balance and organisation can leave you joyless.

You live a life the experts praise but you live a life without flow. Perhaps, instead, today will be the good day for a hour long hike or maybe you would rather do a session of yoga this evening. Perhaps you are still in your workout clothes when you get stuck in, right in, to work and writing and, yes, even chores. You use the idea of flow. And tap into what it is that your body, mind, and soul needs.

Such flexibility in eating and scheduling may make for some crazy long days of work and coffee followed by some crazy long times of regeneration with music and fruit and episodes of New Girl and your latest book that captivates (try Station Eleven).

You may be super productive at work and less so at home this week.

You may be on a week long surge of activity and fruitfulness, at both work and home.

You may need a weekend sabbatical or retreat. A physical workout. A workout for your soul.

No, this doesn’t look balanced, day by day. But over the course of time, when we listen to our bodies and our hearts, all the boxes get ticked. Or we take a good, hard look at those that don’t to ask ourselves why. What drives us to ignore that part of our work and life? What is that telling us? If it is still of significance (my work needs to get done or my body needs that walk), how can I gently harness desire and motivation?

(I find rewards and deadlines work. Sometimes. But what works most is listening to myself)

Never give up on on listening to your needs and wants and loves, and trying to make it work.

Throw away balance for flow.

Throw away lists dreamed up by others for your own list . What do you need to do today, to get what you want done, as well as what your work and life needs done?

What do you need today?

What do you want today?

How do these help you with tomorrow, your hopes and dreams and goals for tomorrow?

These are the questions you ask. You don’t need that list of six things to do to succeed or ten actions that will make you happy and twelve healthy habits to follow now.

You need flow, not just lists.

For happy and productive people don’t need the lists of others. They listen to what their work and life tells them. They have their own list, and own their flow.