Losing Your Balance

Published on June 1, 2014 by Eric Weld

This week, I forgot all about balance. It completely slipped my mind, the absolute importance of maintaining a blend of activities in order to remain enthused, passionate and energetic.

Whenever that happens, everything suffers. My work becomes less impassioned. My mental and physical energy atrophy. I become less outgoing and open.

balancefbDoes this ever happen to you?

Balance means different things for different people, of course. For me, balance generally means spending time on 6 Key Ingredients for Fulfillment—distinct activities and pastimes that provide contentment and satisfaction—either every day or at least several times a week.

My 6 Key Ingredients for Fulfillment are:

  1. Work. Spending several hours on my businesses six days a week (this one is perhaps the easiest to maintain because it’s directly tied to getting paid, so it has its own supply of exigency. However, it’s equally important, for balance, to avoid working too much as it is working too little)
  2. Family Time. Spending time with my 2 teenagers, as well as my mother and siblings
  3. Physical Fitness. I’m a runner, but increasingly I work in other forms of physical activity, like biking, swimming and hiking
  4. Creativity. Most often, this means playing classical or jazz piano, but sometimes I might pick up the guitar, sing or write a piece of fiction
  5. Social Life. Hanging out with friends at least a couple times a week
  6. Rest and Relaxation. Last but NOT least. I am a strong advocate of the importance of relaxing and recharging, and getting enough sleep.

Some people have more than 6 Key Ingredients, some fewer (if you can get by with it, I recommend fewer!). Some are not even aware of the Key Ingredients that provide their fulfillment.

Take a minute and think about your own Key Ingredients for Fulfillment. What regular aspects or activities in your life provide you with satisfaction and contentment? It helps immeasurably to be aware of what you need to do to maintain balance.

It’s a challenge for me to fit in my 6 activities as often as I’d prefer, especially amid all the other forces and unexpected occurrences that occupy one’s time.

The weather can disrupt physical workouts. Take a vacation and the creative outlet might slide. As teenagers my kids have their own lives, so I don’t see them as much as I’d like.

Because of that challenge, sometimes I fail—the balance is thrown off, and I forget about its importance. Usually it starts with a couple days of skipping the workout. With my energy down, I decide not to play any music. Closing down, I opt not to go out with friends. After a few days, my work becomes less impassioned. With that, the frustration level builds, which only exacerbates the lack of balance, and the cycle regenerates into an unsustainable morass of confusion and stress.

This is where your list of Key Ingredients for Fulfillment comes in. To get back on track, pick one of those activities and force yourself to do it, as soon as possible.

For me, a good run will usually get me back on track. Then the ideas begin to flow again. The creativity cranks up. My energy level rises, and my appetite for social activity picks up. My work returns to the source of enjoyment I expect it to be.

Balance is tricky, whether it’s maintaining equilibrium atop a tight rope, or keeping your mental and physical energy in sync. It takes intention, vigilance, and awareness of what healthy balance means to you.

What do you need to do to stay in balance?