(This post is was originally published on May 17, 2010.)
A few weeks back I was hanging out with my two daughters, The Chick and Rock. It was a beautiful day in the San Gabriel valley, and on such days I like to take them to the park. That day, however, there were a lot of things on my to-do list.
My plan was to fix them lunch and plant them in front of the tv so I could get some work done. But the beautiful day called to me, so we went outside and had a picnic in the backyard. They loved it. So did I, even if I didn’t accomplish everything on my list. Those girls are always on my list.
Over the years, I’ve tried to divide my life into priorities and give equal attention to them all: my health, my work, my relationships, my spirituality, my social life and my alone time.
I’ve never been able to do it. There is always one area that needs more attention than another, and when that gets handled, then another area needs attention. If business is booming, then I haven’t been taking my daily walk. If I’m feeling serene and peaceful because I’m taking alone time, then I probably haven’t been spending enough time with my family.
Eventually, I realized that nothing is ever always in balance. It’s a pendulum, it seems, swinging from one extreme to the other. And that’s ok, because that’s how life is: in balance for a minute, then out.
It’s either moving toward summer or winter; when is it balanced? Only twice a year, on the summer and winter solstices. It’s either day or night; when is it balanced? For a short time, twice a day, at dawn and dusk.
And why would you want to be balanced? If there is balance then there is no motion, no growth, no progress. Balance is stasis, nothing is happening.
Life is a see-saw. One day your up, the next, you’re down.
Right now I’m in Apple Valley visiting my brother-in-law. There’s a ton of stuff I need to do, including write this. If it was up to me, I’d be working all the time, but as a married guy, it’s not totally up to me is it? So we’re taking a weekend vacation. Keeps the wife happy, gives the kids a break from the routine, and gives me a chance to record some tunes in my brother-in-law’s recording studio. So the pendulum swings to the other side, but I can be cool with that.
If you are one of those with lots of leisure time to devote to every part of your life, then lucky you! I remember those days. But if you’re like me, trying to balance a career and a family with staying healthy and having some time for reflection, creativity and spirituality, then maybe balance isn’t the answer.
Maybe the answer is to strive for being well-rounded and having a level of satisfaction that you can live with and be happy with in any particular area. Some areas are going to be more important or impactful than others. Those deserve more time and energy.
Here’s some ideas that might be helpful:
- Most of us have numerous roles, interests, and responsibilities which fit into distinct areas of life. Decide what these areas of importance are for you. These would be areas you feel you need to put time and energy into to have a successful and well-rounded life. An example would be Paul J.Meyer’s “Wheel of Life” consisting of Financial and Career, Family and Home, Spiritual and Ethical, Social and Cultural, Physical and Health, and Mental and Educational.
- Rate these areas according to your current level of satisfaction and achievement in each. You might use a scale of 1-100 or 1-10.
- What does this tell you? If you have always considered your health to be important but you rate it on the low side, then perhaps at this time health needs more of your attention then you are giving it. Maybe your financial house is well in order, you’ve got some cash in the bank and your score is high in this area. Consider that perhaps it’s time to put some attention into another area that has a low score.
- Create some goals based on those areas of importance that have lower levels of satisfaction and achievement. For example, if you feel that being a lifetime learner is important to you, and you have rated your Mental/Educational area on the low side, then you might think about taking class, reading a book, or taking an online course.
- Revisit your areas of importance in six months. Has anything changed? Should you continue your present course of focus or is there another area that has become more important or meaningful to you in light of recent events in the past six months? Revisit twice a year.
For your car to get you where you want it to go, you need four good tires, good brakes, gas in your tank and a regular schedule of maintenance. You can ignore any of these for a while, but ignore any one of them for too long and you might soon be in trouble. Instead of striving for balance, just make sure you know what part of your life needs attention and you’ll avoid being stranded by the side of the road.
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Ted A. Moreno
Personal/Small Business Coach Certified Hypnotherapist www.TedMoreno.com (626) 826-0612