by Jim Cathcart
This morning I was invited to speak on the subject of “working hard and still having a balanced life.”
Now there’s a subject I could speak and write about all day long!
Consider for a moment this question: How Fully Are You Living?
You and I have the capacity to live in many ways: mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially, professionally and with our family. Each of these areas requires its own time and attention.
When we neglect or ignore any aspect of our life, after a while it will interrupt the rest of our life to get its needed attention. For example: if you don’t take care of your body, it will break down in injury or illness until it gets the attention required. The same applies to your relationships, your finances and even your intellectual development. When you don’t live fully in that part of your life, it tends to interfere with the other parts of your life.
So our “job” in life is to live as fully as we are reasonably capable of in all life areas.
A way that I’m fond of keeping this on my radar screen is by doing an occasional review of each area and measuring how fully I’ve been living in that area lately. I ask “how fully have I been living in this part of my life lately?” I look at each area and then reflect on recent weeks to determine the appropriate rating. I use a 1 to 10 scale with 10 being highest.
Here’s how it looks:
Mental- 7, I’ve been reading, viewing historical and philosophical shows on TV, discussing important ideas and concepts with respected friends, and journaling my ideas plus reviewing former notes.
Physical- 9, I work out six days a week and two of the workouts are trail running uphill in the mountains near my home with a group of competitive hiker friends. I eat healthy food and don’t smoke.
Family- 8, I’ve spent quality time with my wife each week and with my son’s family and grandchildren. I’ve called Mom every few days and communicated with all of them regularly.
Social- 8, We have been active in community events, spent quality time with friends and entertained in our home often.
Spiritual- 4, I have not attended church recently nor read scriptures or had faith related discussions with many others. (Needs work now.)
Financial- 6, Though I keep good records and manage my money carefully, I have not done any active planning and research in recent weeks. (Plan for a comprehensive review and take action.)
Career- 10, I’ve attended seminars and speeches, collaborated with colleagues, written many articles, done new research, delivered speeches and seminars in several states and explored new opportunities almost daily.
Emotional- 9, I’ve played guitar and sang for 1/2 hour daily, learned a dozen new songs, been to movies and concerts, lectures and plays, told jokes and laughed with friends, relaxed and savored the beauty of Spring all around me and attended my grandson’s ball game. There is much joy in my life.
Now it may be obvious to you that I have much room for improvement but I hope it is also obvious that I’m conscious and intentional in the way that I live my life. I don’t let much time pass before I address each area of life to assure that I’m living with balance and variety. How about you? What numbers would you place in each area and why?
That was step one; the evaluation of your current reality. How you are living right now. For step two you will need to make plans and prepare to take actions. This begins with a new question:
What do you want?
Until you know what your Desired Outcomes are you won’t be ready to begin. Take some time right now and ask yourself what results you’d like to see in each of these life areas. What can you reasonably expect yourself to do to address each area more effectively? Describe in writing what you can do to expand your numbers for the better.
When you know what you want in each area the best way to begin is by selecting the first steps. Commit to step one and your journey is underway! I call these your “Minimum Daily Actions.”
You determine the least you could do to begin building momentum toward ideal actions and results.
For Mental improvement you might simply read one page of a book each day. That should get you started and you’ll likely read much more once you’ve begun.
For Physical, you might simply commit to putting on your workout clothes daily. Once dressed your chances of exercising will increase a hundredfold.
For Family, you could commit to asking each family member one question today and then fully listen to their answers.
You get the picture. Which ever area you are focusing on, focus fully and commit to begin action.
The reason most people live unbalanced lives is because they don’t manage their attention and then their actions intentionally.
Be more intentional in everything you do. Start by becoming more conscious of what you currently do or don’t do, then select your Desired Outcomes and commit to taking Minimum Daily Actions to get things rolling. What you will find is that your life becomes immensely more satisfying and your sense of control over your life will grow.
You were put here with a world of potential, please use all of it so that the rest of us can benefit from your contributions as you do from ours.
In the Spirit of Growth,
PS if you’d like more on this topic, check out my book The Acorn Principle in print or audio CD.