Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked with numerous clients trying to achieve a better quality of life. One thing I’ve noticed is that when an individual’s life becomes significantly unbalanced, their stress levels quickly rise, and their health is negatively impacted.
Giving this idea of “life balance” a lot of thought, I decided on 8 specific areas of life that we need to work on mastering. Although I could find reasons to create a certain hierarchy among these categories, life balance is achieved not so much by putting these in an order of importance, but rather by giving them all equal attention and effort. When one or a few of these areas grow so large they crowd out another area of equal importance, problems arise.
After reading the descriptions below, click the photo here in this blog post, and it will enlarge so you can print it and fill in the categories. Then rank yourself upon the circular graph: 1-10, with a 1 being the first notch, a 5 being the large notch in the middle, and a 10 being the outside edge of the circle. After placing a dot to rank each category as transparently and accurately as possible, connect your dots to see the “shape of your life.” Are you well-rounded and rolling along smoothly? Or have you accidentally built some kind of crooked, deformed shape that would struggle to go anywhere without causing havoc?
Life is but a vapor. It is gone in the twinkling of an eye – here today and gone tomorrow. If the purpose of your being is to wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, lay on the couch, watch tv, go to bed, and repeat the next day … you don’t have a healthy existence, and probably don’t have a healthy body either. We are 4-dimensional people. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Don’t ignore the latter. What lasts is more important than what fades away. Live for something beyond yourself. It’s the key to fulfillment. Being happy has everything to do with fulfillment, and fulfillment has everything to do with the spiritual part of you.
There is no need to live in chronic pain or fatigue. You don’t have struggle through life with a lack of strength, energy, or confidence in either your appearance or your health. Science has shown us quite clearly how to build a body. Your physical self is also also what the mental, emotional, and spiritual you resides within and utilizes. When you place artificially low limits on your body by not taking care of it, you also begin to limit the impact of your mental, emotional, and spiritual self. Furthermore, you unnecessarily burden your spouse and family when you invite preventable diseases and conditions upon yourself with poor lifestyle choices. Make sure your are constantly improving, or at a minimum, maintaining, your health and fitness.
My dad used to jokingly say, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” The fact is that we do need to remember where we came from, and who sacrificed so that we might not only survive, but thrive. There’s an ancient scripture that says “one who doesn’t care for their family is worse than an infidel.” If we can’t learn to appreciate and support our own family, we aren’t going to very good at committing to friends. Everyone has faults, and the closer you get to people, the more those faults will become evident. You want someone who will stick by you in spite of your shortcomings. Be that someone for your family.
Feng Shui is a Chinese philosophy focused on harmony with your environment. Regardless of the origin of the term and any other implications, I believe in the power of the premise. The first step of success often involves simply putting yourself in a position where you can be successful. The places you go and the people you surround yourself with both make a difference in how your life will unfold. Indeed, even the look and feel of your home, your office, and your car – anywhere you spend a lot of time – can affect your mood and motivation. If your mind tends to be cluttered and unfocused, do an audit of your environment. Do you find the same all around you? Make sure your surroundings are clean, organized, and “formed to function.” You’ll be surprised what happens to your own level of clarity and productivity.
We all need a job – work that we bring to a market or community in exchange for some type of compensation or appreciation. It might be that you have a full-time career caring for a company, or a full-time career caring for a family, for example. Your level of compensation or appreciation is usually relative to not only your ability to perform your function at a high level, but also your ability to cleverly market and share the story of your function within your company or community without offending or annoying your necessary audience. Both require skills, both benefit from mentorship, and both produce a healthy sense of pride with mastery.
It’s one thing to produce money by performing well your function. It’s quite another to efficiently and effectively manage that money. Smart money management looks at the return on investment from your dollars. For example, the acquisition of assets that enrich your life – like an education, a home, a retirement fund, a healthier body, a motivated mindset, a rental property, a small business, etc … are all good investments. Throwing money away on needlessly expensive clothing, restaurants, wine, and other doodads … or paying for debt interest on quickly depreciating liabilities like extra cars, boats, and televisions … might bring needless stress into your life that will negatively impact your health, unless the aforementioned assets were already solidified.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” That scriptural truth is thousands of years old, and it holds just as true today as it did then. Much like iron is formed in the flames by the iron hammer that contacts it, we become formed by the friends with whom we endure the fires of life. The “take-home” message is two-fold. First, we must befriend those that represent what we want to become, allowing ourselves to be molded into the kind of person we desire to be. Secondly, we must focus on being a positive influence upon those whom we have already befriended, so they can come out of the fire better than they entered it.
George Bernard Shaw noted “We don’t quit playing because we grow old. We grow old because we quit playing.” Isn’t that the truth? Somewhere along the way, many of us have forgotten to have fun. Spending time participating in what you enjoy is not laziness. In fact, research shows that it’s a good idea for your health. Counterintuitively, many people actually become too lazy to schedule and plan for fun activity. What do I mean by that? Well, instead of doing what they might really want to do, they settle for the couch and television – taking the easier, but ultimately less fun option of sedentariness over truly enjoyable activity. So make sure you have fun on purpose. Don’t risk your health by leaving it to chance. If you still more justification to enjoy yourself, know that you’ll feel and perform better when you return to work.