You’ve probably heard, or perhaps said, “I’ve got to get my life back in balance.” Two interesting observations, 1) to get back in balance means you once had it in balance, and 2) wanting a balanced life is code for ‘something is missing’ and ‘your space has been infiltrated because you can’t hold a boundary.’
Researchers have determined that living a balanced life is not only a myth, but to do so, or even come close to a work-life balance is a non-productive, fear-based lifestyle. The most productive way of living is on the edge. Meaning, when one is allegedly balanced, there is a lack of passion, grit, meaning, identity, and production. Living on the edge means you counter-balance the imbalance and can produce more because you are narrowly focused for long periods of time.
There are five areas in life that are on the balance wheel.
- Friends (social)
The key to balancing these five constructs is prioritizing them and counterbalancing the planned imbalance. For example,
Integrity is not an item that shares time. But rather, it is always in play. You drop integrity, it shatters along with your reputation and success. Integrity is in play 100% of the time. The other four, revolve around it and collectively equal 100%.
Let’s say each item garners an even amount of time (a balanced life).
- Work – 25%
- Home – 25%
- Self – 25%
- Friends – 25%
This is the optimal mix of work/life balance to guarantee that nothing gets done. You will go nowhere, achieve nothing, and probably be miserable. The key to productivity is counter-balancing a planned imbalance in your percentages.
The percentages are based on the focus cycle in each category. Work is a long-term focus cycle. A large percentage of work or better said, your energy, time, and effort, is not critical. If overlooked, not finished, or dropped, it would have little to no impact on your success. In fact, by dropping many of your points on work’s to-do list, you free up essential time and reduce anxiety, and therefore, production increases.
On the other hand, items within the categories of home, self, and friends are short-term-focus cycles and if dropped, shatter, like a glass ball. Consider the father who puts his career at the highest priority and allows his short-terms items (home) to drop. Instead of attending his son’s baseball games and making his anniversaries a priority, he works long hours, justifying that he’s doing it for the family and will make it up to them when he retires.
When he does retire, he makes up for the lost time by coaching his grandson’s baseball team and watches the grandchildren, so his son can take his wife on an anniversary cruise. In reality, the time with his son was dropped, and the connection with his son shattered.
Missing baseball games is not something that can be made up. You don’t make up lost time with children and spouse. You don’t make up lost time taking care of yourself. Likewise, you don’t make up lost time trying to be there for an old friend who has moved on.
The short-term focus on family, self, and friends means you don’t neglect the important things at the expense of the little things. Goethe said, “Things that matter most, must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Being in balance means you accept that work will carry the highest percentage of your time, assuming you have a career. It doesn’t mean that you shut out the rest of your life. Instead, you learn how to counter-balance work by prioritizing the important things at home and with self and holding boundaries against the things that matter least.
Here is a productive priority list, which is critical in decision-making. The short focus list of things that matter most are:
- Personal health (self)
- Eating healthy
- Extended family
- Social network
- But never at the expense of self and family
Hitting the mark on things that matter most, permits one to counter-balance life and achieve results that are impossible trying to live in a mythical state of balance.