Do you have balance in your life? Personal and professional balance in our lives seems to be the ever-elusive dream for many of us. Trying to balance home, work, health, spirituality and free time seems almost impossible. It is something that businesspeople have told me for years.
Well, I am pleased to tell you that I believe I’ve found the answer to creating balance in your life. Are you ready? Write this down. Here it is: Forget about balance, you’ll never have it!
I can hear you now . . . “What?! No balance?!? That can’t be! It’s just not right!” But wait . . . there IS good news. Although I don’t think balance is possible, I do believe you can create harmony in your life. This differentiation is more than just semantics. It is a critical approach to looking at life that can free you up to see the world in a different way.
“Balance” assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life. It is like the image of the scales (see the picture at right) where everything is completely in balance and equal. It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.
Well, the problem with that is that almost no one can really achieve that. Especially entrepreneurs, professionals and salespeople. We tend to live such hectic, busy lives that it is incredibly difficult to fit it all in. Women often tell me that this issue is an even bigger problem for them.
So what do we do about this? For me, it’s about creating harmony. Just look at the image representing harmony in this blog (see the yin yang symbol at right). Even the image is lopsided when you look at one aspect at a time. But it is the whole that feels complete. This is a way to look at the issue that has personally worked for me. Sometimes I work crazy, long hours for several days in a row. Or I may be on the road traveling for business for many days at a time. On the other hand, I am a husband and a father. I need and want to be there for my family as well as have time for myself. Long ago I figured out that daily balance is almost impossible. But I found I could create harmony using a few core principles.
First, three simple words make a big difference to me: “Be here now.” Wherever you are, be there. If you are at work, don’t think about the time you did not spend with the family the night before or what you should be doing with you significant other right now. When you are at home, don’t think about the work you have to do at the office. Wherever you are, be there . . . fully and completely.
Second, make sure to set aside time to do all the things that are truly important in your life. Yeah, I know everyone says that, but here’s my twist: Be creative about how you manage this. For example, when I wrote my first book I didn’t want to be holed up in my office writing in the evening and not be available to my family. I found a creative way to find that time that was in harmony with my family time. A few evenings a month, I’d stay up with the family, put everyone to bed and then go into my office and start writing at 11 p.m. and work almost all night on my manuscript. I’d catch a few hours of sleep and get into the office a little late to start my day. I’m a late-night person and this worked for me. It may not work for you. However, my point is to be creative and inventive in finding ways YOU can accomplish what you need to do, yet still allow yourself to spend time doing the other things in your life that bring you harmony. Nothing pleased me more than when I showed my children the book when it was published and they said to me . . . “When did you write that?!” They had no idea I was up late working several times a month. That was harmony to me!
Third, find ways to integrate various elements of your life. For many years, I have spent weeks at a time up at my lake home in the mountains. Each year, I spend a week or two working from the lake house remotely. Now I bring up my staff and management team for short retreat/workdays. It is a great way to combine my work life into a leisure environment. Then, the last week or so, I take off COMPLETELY and spend time with my family. By integrating my two worlds, I create a sense of harmony.
Last, remember this: when you are 70 years old, you are not going to wish you spent more time at the office. You don’t need to be a workaholic to be successful.
Focus on creating harmony in your life. Be creative. Don’t try to do the things I do or that someone else does. Find ideas that work for you and the life you live. Make the time to do the things that are important to you and be innovative. Harmony is created where harmony is sought. OK, that’s a bit “new age” sounding . . . but it is true.
I’m very interested to hear what you think of this approach and/or what do you do to create balance in your life. Leave a comment and let me, and others reading this blog, know what has worked for you.