By Shawn Doyle
Want to live a powerful life? The power of living a powerful life is to live a life of balance. Learn techniques, tips and approaches to living a life of balance. Achieve succes now by using the ideas in this article.
What is the definition of success? Some people would define success as financial success like that of Donald Trump or Bill Gates. Some would define artistic success as that of that of Picasso. Some would define success as the serving lives of Martin Luther King, or Mother Teresa. Most people would view a successful person as someone who has achieved a lot- written 35 books, broken all the sports records, started a successful company, climbed Mount Everest. Success can be viewed, however in a different light and that is the enviable state of living a life of balance.
The key, in my opinion, is to strive to live a life of balance. The idea is to be successful in all areas of your life because they all affect one another. Living a life of balance will help you get motivated and stay motivated because it will help you in several ways:
•You will tend to be less frustrated because you will be making progress in each area of your life.
•When you are working on one area of your life you can be more focused. You won’t be worried about the other areas because you will already be making progress.
•You will feel good about your life overall.
Before we go further and give you some tips about how to live a life of balance, we should talk about some myths I would like you to get out of your head. If you understand these upfront, you will be less likely to get frustrated on your journey of seeking life balance.
•Myth #1 Life will be or should be perfectly balanced Forget this concept! There is no such thing as perfection and there is no such thing as perfect balance. I know, you are saying to yourself “yes but I know a lady who had absolute perfect balance” (Martha Stewart?) well that is your perception. Believe me when I tell you that everyone on this planet struggles with this, and as we get busier and more tied to technology with cell phones and pagers, it’s getting crazier.
•Myth #2 Once I am balanced I will be set This is also very far from the truth; the reality is that balance is like the wheels on your car. You can get them balanced but after some wear and tear and bumpy roads, you have to get them balanced again. So balance is something that has to be done over and over again in your life. It is a process.
•Myth # 3 Balance is a goal that is achieved The truth is that balance is a process that you go through each week and every month. Every week you are deciding where to spend time and what to spend it on. It is in those individual decisions where balance can be achieved.
•Myth #4 I will always be balanced Not true! There will be weeks where, due to a big project or initiative, you will have to spend much more time at work. There will be weeks when a family member is sick and you will have to spend more time at home. There will be weeks when you are sick and can’t work out. So the target is to achieve balance, but you will be less frustrated if you understand that it will not always happen.
When you look at balance- you should try to concentrate on the following areas:
•Family Life/ Friends
•Health and Fitness
For each of these categories you should have both short and long term goals.
•Professional/Career This is an area that can have an impact on your life from a “positive” or “negative” viewpoint. Your professional/ work life is key because in most cases, it is financing the rest of your life. If you think about it, your work is paying for the place you live, the car you drive, the food you eat. It is vital to spend time investing in and developing the skills that will help your career grow.
I was recently at a major theme park on vacation and saw a family with a Father, Mother and three kids. Every time I saw that family throughout the day the father was on his cell phone. Now I am guessing, but I think his life was out of balance. He didn’t have time to go on vacation! That to me was a sad example of what can happen when we don’t strive for balance.
It could be that there was an emergency at the office or a crisis he was managing; however, I got the feeling that this man was just a person who is a workaholic and never will be in balance.
So what is the price we pay? What happens when we are completely utterly out of balance? At some point our motivation can be affected. The old saying “all work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) a dull boy/girl” certainly has some truth to it! The reality is that your tiny baby will only be a baby once. Your grandmother will only have a 100th birthday party once. Your son will only hit his first homerun once. There are so many special times that are missed and can’t be replayed, and are gone never to return. The emotional hurt of family and friends is lasting.
I once had a job where I traveled 46 weeks during the year. My daughter was a toddler at the time and used to grab my leg and cry as I went out the door. Prying her little fingers from my leg and hugging her goodbye was painful. I would give her a hug and then say goodbye. It was the worst feeling in the world.
The Big Question
The big question on balance between work and the rest of your life is simply that you have to decide where the line is drawn. I once interviewed for a sales position, which was double my total compensation at the time. The only problem was that it required very heavy travel. I discussed it with my family and decided that it wasn’t worth it. That is where we as a family drew the line.
You alone have to decide where the line is drawn. This is not an easy task because the line is always moving and the work, as well as your life, is always in a state of change.
How can you tell if you lack balance? If you are already asking yourself that question that may be a hint. If you work so much that it is negatively affecting your family, your health, your marriage and your friendships, your finances, you most likely have a problem with balance. That means you are working too hard.
You may want to try setting some guidelines for yourself on how many hours a week you are willing to put in, and try to stick to the maximum number. Many experts claim that you will work to fill the time available, and if you lessen the hours you will get the same amount done. Secondly, when you set a guideline and stick to it, you will eliminate doubt (am I doing enough?) and guilt and the stress that goes along with it. Try it for a few weeks and see what happens.
Family Life/ Friends As a human being and as a member of the human tribe, you need to be connected to other people. As the old song goes “what the world needs now is love sweet love” as trite as that sounds it’s a basic human need. In order to be motivated and stay motivated we need to be around people who we appreciate and people who appreciate us. I find that there are many people who don’t give their family and friends enough attention because they are so busy. I find it easy to fall into this trap myself. The sad fact is we don’t know how long we will be around and we don’t know how long our friends and family will be around. I don’t mean to be morbid, but this is a reality which can shape your perception about spending time with family. Several years ago, my beloved grandfather passed away. He was more than just a grandfather, he was almost like a second father to me and he was a special person. We called him “Bigpop” and this was certainly an appropriate name because he was big and he was full of life! He was more of a pop, “grandfather” or “gramps” would have never have fit this giant energy force of a man. I must confess to you that when I went to his funeral I wished that I had spent more time with him in the last year of his life. Why didn’t I? I had led myself to believe I was too busy. It was six hours away; I didn’t have enough days off, blah, blah, blah. The reality is I didn’t plan for or make the time. I doubt there are many people at funerals that say, “I just wish I hadn’t spent SO MUCH time with them.”
The real issue with most of us is we don’t plan and prioritize spending time with family and friends. It isn’t part of our schedule. We get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life. Spending time with friends and family becomes accidental instead of purposeful. I am proud to say I plan time with my teenage daughter. Borrowing a technique from Dr. Steven Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) every month we have a “father/daughter” day. This is sacred time put aside when her and I plan and do something together.
It is the greatest decision we have ever made. As you may know, teens are not always easy to talk to. Every month we do something together.
My wife and I have been married for 24 years but we still have “dates”. We plan time to go out to movies, dinner or shows in order to spend quality time together as a couple.
Make the time for family and friends and actually plan it on your calendar or PDA. If you want to stay in touch with your best friend, your favorite cousin, write it in your calendar and then do it! The connection to family and friends will help you be more motivated. How can spending time with family and friends help you be motivated? Family and friends are already on your side and they can help support you, encourage you and give you love when you need that extra boost. That can be very motivating to know that you are part of a family that is behind you.
Physical/Health According to research, only 16% of the American population is on a regular workout program. That means that 74% of Americans are not! Recent research also indicates that 64% of all men and 42% of all women are classified as overweight! That means that most Americans get little or no exercise, and if you sit on any city street and observe people walking by, you will see the result. I know many people who don’t make exercise part of their daily routine. We all have heard the excuses; “I don’t have time” or “I can’t afford to belong to a gym” or “I just got out of the habit”.
We all end up so busy that we don’t work out and at some point our body starts to betray us. We slow down, feel bad, don’t have energy like we used to have. My wife’s doctor said “All my patients that are sick in their 50’s are a result of what they did or didn’t do in their 30’s and 40’s.” As the old saying goes “You reap what you sow.”
But there is very good news, there is a fountain of youth just ready and waiting for you to take a drink and that is exercise!!!! Exercise will provide more energy, more confidence, a higher self esteem, mental alertness and you will be more motivated. Here is the formula:
PH= > E > M
The formula is that physical health equals increased energy and increased motivation. Think about it, when are you most motivated? When you have the most energy! When are you least motivated? When you have the least energy and you are tired. That is when you are most likely to be “down.” If you want to maximize motivation you must maximize your body and your overall health.
I have found two keys to maximum health: a reasonable dietary plan and a workout plan that I can be sure is reasonable and will help me maintain consistency.
The Cabbage Diet
I am very concerned that across America there are people who are starting plans that are doomed to failure because the plans are so CRAZY. A popular diet recently advertised “Lose ten pounds in two days!” If that isn’t insane, I don’t know what is! In order to stay motivated, I believe you must find an eating plan, which is reasonable that a normal person can stick with and get results over time.
When exercising, I have found two keys to success that work for me. I have to keep going back to the reason I am working out (Principle #1- Have a Purpose for What You Do) In other words why are you working out? To lose weight? To live a long healthy life free of disease? To increase the quality of you life? To attract a mate? The reasons have to be your reasons and the more detailed and specific you are the better.
Spiritual I want to start off by saying that spiritual has a very broad meaning; it can mean any traditional religious belief or could mean the act of studying, reading or meditating. I would prefer to leave the definition of spiritual up to you. My definition of spiritual is something that renews me, refreshes my spirit and makes me feel whole. I believe that the reason people started feeling burnt out or dispirited is they neglect their spiritual side.
It is very easy in today’s world of speed and urgency, technology,“24 x 7”, PDA’s and Blackberries, cell phones and pagers to not take the time to slow down, reflect, think, meditate, or pray. My wife and I were enjoying a long weekend at Rehoboth Beach Delaware. The weather was great, the beach was beautiful and I could feel the ocean air taking the stress away. I was walking down the boardwalk and saw a woman about 35 sitting on a bench looking out at the ocean. She also had a device in her hand and was clicking through and answering E- mail. I had to laugh. What is the point? Why go away if you can’t get away?
Taking the time to renew your spirit, making the time to renew yourself will make an impact and have a significant effect of the rest of your life. You will be calmer, more focused and more motivated!
Financial I am constantly amazed and amused at the credit card companies and how they have been able to lure people into more, and more, and more debt. When I first graduated from college I was inundated with offers from credit card companies offering me all sorts of cards even before I had a job! Today, I am sure there is not one day that goes by that I don’t get a credit card offer. Every store that I visit, the last thing the cashier says before they ring your sale is “Would you like one of our credit cards?”
I have heard about married couples with average incomes that have credit card debt that is half of their yearly income. They end up having to get a loan to pay their loan! This is, in my mind an insane way to exist. That is why financial balance is so very important. There are several reasons why financial balance is beneficial:
•You will save a ton of money by eliminating high debt credit cards
•A great credit rating allows you to take advantage of opportunities such as buying houses or cars.
•This book is about how to get motivated and stay motivated however and here is the bottom line- when your finances are in order- you have peace of mind and can ease anxiety and stress – therefore being more motivated.
•If the stress is eliminated- you can spend your energies on other areas like goal setting and defining your purpose.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to gain financial literacy, so that you can use money for what it is, a tool. It would also help you to understand what financial balance looks like.
One of the problems with our society today is that none of us want to wait. We want the big house now, the big expensive car now and some of us are not willing to “pay our dues”. The credit card and finance companies encourage this, foster it and paint the picture that creates the hunger for instant gratification. They constantly raise the limits of what people can spend on cars, loans and mortgages. They make it so easy to get approval and to spend it. This is in many ways a factor for lower motivation.
So if you can maintain a financial balance- you will feel more confident, more competent and more motivated on day-to-day basis.
Intellectual If you have been out of school for a while, I have a question- are you still learning? Still studying? Still growing intellectually? Still have a thirst for new information?
As mentioned in Principle # 3- you need to be a non- stop continuous learning machine.
What do you know? From a professional and personal learning standpoint what do you need to know? What knowledge and information will you need in order to get to the “next level”? Go out and find this information on the internet, in the library or in a seminar. The people, who I believe will have the competitive edge in the future, will be the people who keep upgrading their knowledge and skills, especially when there are other people who aren’t. I suggest developing a customized “learning plan” in order to evaluate where you are and where you need to be. Then determine how you are going to get this information. If you don’t know what it is you need to work on, here are some sources you may want to consider:
•A Mentor Your mentor can often see areas that need improvement that you cannot perceive. This is when an honest straightforward mentor can be a big help.
•Assessments There are tons of written and web based assessments on nearly any topic that you can locate and complete that will give you results that are measurable and specific.
•Colleagues Ask a trusted co-worker to give you feedback on areas that they see for improvement. As a word of caution, make sure that you are in the right frame of mind when you receive feedback. This is to help you, so don’t get defensive.
•Friends/ family If you have a smart perceptive family member, who can give you feedback, ask them for help. Just make sure you select the right family remember who is truly in your corner. I have had the privilege of being married 22 years and my wife gives great advice that is both perceptive and clear. She also has the advantage of being objective, which is in part due to the fact that she is not involved with my professional life and can see the forest when I can only see the trees at times.
So decide on a plan to grow and you will be amazed at the results.
If you are feeling stagnant or unmotivated, it can be caused by a few factors:
•Burnout Working too hard on too many things for too long.
•Lack of Goals Chasing the pot at the end of the rainbow and having no idea why you are doing it.
•Wrong work Doing the wrong work with the wrong company and the wrong people. (If this is the case you know it in your gut.)
•Lack of balance Concentrating all your efforts on one area of your life at the expense of all others.
If you face any of these situations, take some time to stop and evaluate what is going on. Take the bull by the horns and start taking action! Don’t wait, don’t procrastinate, hesitate… you have a brand new life to create!
Shawn Doyle is the President of New Light Learning and Development (www.newlightlearning.com) a company specializing in Leadership Development and motivation. He has also authored five books on leadership sales and motivation. His latest book The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Training has just been published by HRD Press. Sldoyle1@aol.com
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