When you think of “success,” what do you picture?
Most of us associate it with some form of professional status, accomplishment and financial abundance or security. And that’s fair. But, if you want to truly savor all of life’s potential richness, these two components are really only part of the equation. We’re often led to believe that to get the first two, however, something else must give. To have career success, for instance, you must sacrifice quality ties and time family, or your health, or–perhaps most often neglected–your inner and outer health.
Believing that such sacrifice is inevitable, we throw up our hands and give up on letting ourselves have the fullness we crave in each of these life dimensions. To tackle the idea of leading a “balanced life,” therefore, let’s take a moment to revise the common perception of success from career/wealth and expand it to mean a life where each of our dimensions are thriving, fulfilled, and honored: purposeful work/career, family, friends, self (inner & physical health), community, and spirituality.
How do we craft such a life? The best thing to do is to begin by surveying your current landscape. Where do the imbalances currently lie? We all have the capacity to intuitively assess our own diagram. A list of “life areas” may look like this: (Feel free to alter based on your priorities.)
- Work / Career / Purpose
- Social / Friends
- Community / Causes
- Self – Physical, Emotional, Mental Health
Next, rate each of these categories along a scale from “I’ve got this one in the bag!” to, “Eesh, I’m the worst at _____.” Be honest with yourself, but not harsh! It’s an assessment, not a guilt trip. Now you’re ready to get creative. Sit back and look at your “balance map.” You’ll notice some peaks and valleys. Where you are already strong, congratulations! Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for excelling in the areas you do. Surveying the valleys–i.e. Your “Eesh!” areas–now gives you an opportunity to begin brainstorming how you might move the dial in a more fulfilled direction.
For instance, if you just never manage to go visit Mom, ask yourself what might be a creative, enjoyable step toward more Mom-time. If visiting is impossible right now, can you increase your calls to her? Get creative with it. Could you call her on your way to work, instead of catching up on the Top 10 radio hits? Once you’ve come up with some (manageable!) strategies for climbing up the valleys in your chart, have a look at your peaks.
We only have so much time and energy in a week, so to get a bit more time or energy for one under-attended part of your life, you might need to pull something from another area. This is a good moment to examine if those peaks actually need all the time you’re giving them. Is it really critical that you attend that work BBQ, or would it perhaps earn you just as much respect to give that time to your health, your community, or your family?
Or, maybe you can do some clever combining: bring the family to the BBQ, or use some of your time there to invite your coworkers to help you support a cause you’re passionate about. Finally, find a buddy to join you on this adventure. We all need accountability and inspiration, and creating balance requires time–so, you’ll need someone to report breakthroughs as well as challenges along the way, or someone with whom you can powwow and re-visit your map. Hey… maybe that person could be a friend you’ve been meaning to spend more time with?
CLARITY. CONFIDENCE. CONNECTION.
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