Each month at Balanced Achievement, we explore various personal qualities that are exhibited by the world’s most successful, happy, and fulfilled individuals. In this on-going series called “The ABCs of Personal Qualities,” we not only highlight individual personal qualities, but also explain why they are so important and provide you with definitive steps that you can take to develop and cultivate the given characteristic. Today, we look at the personal quality of Balance and show you how to create a blueprint for living life in a balanced way.
As the architect of your own life, you have the ability to plan, build, and maintain practically anything that you desire. There are only a few life components that we cannot alter, such as our height, skin color, and upbringing, and these characteristics play a limited role in determining our levels of success, happiness, and fulfillment. If you live in the Western world, you have the ability and right to freely pick your career, your relationships, the food you eat, how you spend your money, and how you utilize your free time.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t take the time to create a life that brings us consistent joy and fulfillment. One of the biggest reasons that Americans’ levels of fulfillment remain so low is that too many of us haven’t created a blueprint for living in a balanced way. And unless we are willing to develop life balance, our existence will continue to be marred with unsatisfactory feelings.
What is Balance:
Here at Balanced Achievement, one of our primary goals is to show you how living with balance across areas of your existence can greatly increase your levels of life satisfaction. There are countless ways that we can balance our lives, and when we take the time to create equilibrium between various life components, happiness naturally results. We believe that there are a variety of life areas that need to be balanced. For example, spirituality and psychology, internal and external success, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, not to mention the various areas of our lives such as intellectual, relationships, career, and health.
When you are able to balance your time and energy between these things, happiness and success will inevitably come as a by-product. While no two situations are the same, it is important for each of us to find a balanced harmony between our various life roles and responsibilities. With that being said, we like to define the personal quality of balance as:
Living in a way that creates and maintains harmony among an individual’s responsibilities, relationships, health, and personal well-being. A balanced individual gives an appropriate amount of their time, energy, and resources to each area, and makes sure that they do not neglect or abuse any of the things that are important to them (themselves included).
Why Life Balance is Important:
When you take into consideration the various life roles and responsibilities that an individual undertakes, it is easy to see how they can fall out of balance. The clearest example of imbalance comes in the form of an individual becoming so consumed by financial growth and career status that they neglect their relationships with loved ones. All too many spouses, children, and significant others have taken a back seat to a loved one’s drive for external success.
While it isn’t a bad thing to push yourself to succeed externally, the quality of your life and the lives of those around you suffer when you prioritize one component of your life in favor of another.
Consequences are bound to arise when an individual’s life is out of balance. In the previously mentioned example, stress, frustration, and even anger can very well be the byproduct of this unbalanced way of living. While imbalanced individuals may tell themselves that they are doing the best that they can, the truth is that at the deepest levels of their being, they know that they aren’t acting in ways that will bring them the greatest amounts of joy. In a comparable situation, an individual who aggravates their internal harmony by continuously consuming nothing but fatty meats, fried foods, and sugary desserts, has to deal with feelings of lethargy and faces higher levels of disease susceptibility.
The good news is that we can use the negative consequences that we experience from living imbalanced to propel us to find and maintain complete life balance. When we are living in balance and monitoring the amount of time and resources we allocate to our various roles and responsibilities, we can be assured that both others and ourselves will accept and appreciate our actions. This alone will lead to higher levels of life satisfaction.
Creating a Blueprint for Life Balance:
Just as an architect builds a building, we can shape our lives in a way that creates harmonious balance. Your current life situation, which has been constructed by your decisions, beliefs, and values, can be viewed as the foundational footing of our life balance building. This article hasn’t been designed to fix a crack in the foundation but to help you find balance with your current circumstances. If we are to reconstruct our lives in a way that creates more balance, we can similarly take four steps that an architect takes in the building process:
Assessment: Before creating a blueprint for life balance, you need to take an honest assessment of your current life situation. The first step you need to take in order to properly evaluate your life balance is to determine your deepest desires and decide which things are truly important to you. You obviously want to think about your current work-life balance, but there are other areas that should be explored. Within the ‘life’ component you should examine how much balance you have created between your personal ambitions, your relationships, and your health. You also want to find balance on a smaller scale in each of those areas.
For example, look at how you’re balancing your free time (productive vs unproductive), your eating habits, and your exercising/rest habits. In most of these instances, if you go too far in either direction, your levels of life fulfillment with be negatively affected.
It is important to remember that there won’t be any two assessments that look exactly the same (a person with a wife and kids obviously has different roles and responsibilities to balance in comparison to a single university graduate student.) After determining your priorities, you would want to ask yourself a variety of questions to help you find particular life areas that you may not be living in complete balance. Here are a few that can help you get started: Am I living in balance? What are my goals? What are the most important things in my life? Do I neglect anyone or anything for my own personal ambitions? Do I have certain habits or ways of being that are hurting me? Are there any components of my life that aren’t bringing me fulfillment? Do I spend too much time focusing on one area of my life, which causes me to neglect others?
Brainstorming: After you have taken this personal assessment, you can begin the brainstorming process to help you find life-balancing solutions. Ask yourself: How can I create a greater life balance? How can I more evenly disperse my time to generate greater levels of fulfillment? What components of my life should I allocate more (and less) time for? As your brainstorm, you may be faced some difficult decisions. If spending time with your family is an area you want to prioritize greater, but your work schedule won’t allow it, you may be faced with the decision of looking for a new job. It is important to always make your decisions based on the desires of your true self rather than the desires of your ego.
Planning and Implementation: Once you have brainstormed potential balancing solutions, you would then want to create a detailed plan before implementing the changes. For example, if you decide that you want to balance the amount of time you spend watching TV with more life-affirming activities like reading or meditation, you should take the time to map out definitive time frames for your new habits. In the beginning stages of planning and implementation, it is important for you to consciously and consistently focus your attention on creating new habits or else you will likely revert back to old ones. You should also aim to gradually change habits over time rather than making one swift alteration, as this typically doesn’t work.
Continuous Evaluation: As the process of increasing your levels of life balance plays out it is vitally important to continuously evaluate your progress. You should monitor the amount of life balance you have on a weekly, if not daily, basis. When you begin to juggle the various component of life in a harmonious way, it is important to remain flexible and alter any original plans that haven’t created higher levels of happiness over time. It is also important to remember that it takes time to create new habits, so we have to be both patient and forgiving with ourselves.
When you are able to live in a balanced way, success, happiness, and fulfillment become natural byproducts of your actions. For this reason, it is vital to develop and cultivate the personal quality of balance and live your life in a balanced way.