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  October 14, 2011
Striking a Balance...

 


This week, I was scheduled to have lunch with a good friend.  We both arrived to the restaurant on time but I could see by her mannerisms, that she was preoccupied with happenings at her office.  She was there physically but her mind was still back at her office.

I asked her if she wanted to reschedule our lunch for another day but she said we might as well eat now that we were there.  During lunch, she took several phone calls and made several notes to herself on her iPad.

In between her phone calls and note taking we were able to order lunch and briefly talk. 

She explained to me that her company had recently gone through a "re-alignment" and that she was spending her nights and weekends working on several new projects.  I asked her if she was making any progress on her projects, but she told me that as soon as she completed a project there were two more waiting for her.

"So how long do you think you can keep this up", I asked.

I don’t know exactly but hopefully it’ll get caught up by the end of the year."

I thought to myself...Gee...it’s only October...burning the candle at both ends for several months on end is no way to live life... 

She had two young children at home.  Her husband had been laid off from his job so he’s now home with the kids, but they still need to spend time with their mom.

Additionally, all of this work has taken a toll on her health.  I noticed that had gained several pounds and her skin looked extremely pale from spending too much of her time in the office.  I inquired if she was still running (one of her passions) but she exclaimed, "I just don’t have the time anymore."

She quickly ate her lunch and then her phone rang again.  When she finally hung up, she apologized but she had to get back to the office because of some new crisis. 

She threw some money on the table and we exchanged a quick hug and she was off and out the door.

As I sat there alone finishing my lunch, I couldn’t help but feel some sort of pity toward my friend.  It was obvious to me that she had lost all of the balance in her life but she was so close to the forest that she couldn’t see the tree standing directly before her.

In my own opinion, the one of the three keys to a fulfilled life is creating balance (the other two keys being personal achievement and helping others).  The difficult part of living a balanced life is that outside forces conspire to tip the balance on a seemingly daily basis.  It is the challenge in front of us to resist those forces and strive to seek balance.

There all several important areas of our lives that we need to balance.  The important areas include:  

  • Work / School
  • Family
  • Health and personal development
  • Friendships
  • Community service
  • Spirituality
All of the above seven areas are extremely important in one’s life and consume a great deal of time. 

On top of the "important seven", there are other time consumers that aren’t necessarily important but still need to be done.  These might include items such as household chores, shopping, commuting, ferrying kids to various activities, getting gas, bill paying and banking.  While these types of activities are not extremely important, overall they are indeed essential to our daily lives.

In order to "create" more time (in reality, no one can actually create time), it might be a good idea to try to combine some of the activities.  This is the idea behind "multi-tasking".  And while the concept is sound, putting the theory of multi-tasking into practice can be more difficult than it sounds.

It is perfectly fine to try and learn a new language listening to instructional CDs while on your daily commute or taking a long brisk walk enjoying the company of a close friend. In this way you can accomplish two things at once. 

However, dragging your kids around town with you as you try and complete errands does not work well as "family time" neither does planning the family vacation while you should be making sales calls at work.  This is not really multi-tasking but rather replacing important things with unimportant tasks.

One of the best ways to help strike a balance is to first be cognizant of how you actually spend your time.  A good exercise is to carefully track where you spend your time over the course of one week.  You may be surprised to learn how much time is actually spent on non-essential things such as watching TV, going to sporting events, driving around town, surfing the Internet, playing computer games, following your fantasy football team, completing the daily Sudoku puzzle, shopping, and/or cleaning your house.

All of these things do have a certain importance, but if these activities dominate our time, then perhaps we need to re-think our priorities.  These activities should not take precedence over the truly important areas of our lives.

Additionally, there should be an attempt to balance those important areas of our lives as well.  A person who spends all of her time working while neglecting her family, friends and health is not truly living a fulfilled life even though their time is being spent in an area of importnance.

A funny thing usually happens when certain important parts of one’s life are neglected...they end up making up for the lost time in other ways. 

For example...if we continue to neglect our health or family in lieu of work...one day we may develop heart disease or diabetes, our relationship with our family sours and our friends no longer want anything to do with us...

...now all of a sudden work isn’t so important.

Yes...striking a balance can be difficult but the rewards far outweigh the effort. Thank you very much for supporting OptiFuse where we challange you to be the best person you can be...

 



Jim Kalb
President
OptiFuse
jimk@optifuse.com
 

 


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