Jan 31, 2018

Achieving a Life Balance

By Jarrod Upton

According to Dictionary.com, one of the meanings of “balance” includes the following definition – a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. For our purposes, that seems like an accurate description of what balance is and why it is a worthy goal to strive for in life.

For me, balance implies a kind of equilibrium, where one’s life is not being pulled excessively in one direction or another. And in order to achieve that kind of balance, it seems to me that well-developed life management skills are required. That is, one has to recognize that achieving balance is a desirable thing, and then one must cultivate the skills and discipline to achieve it.

However, it should be noted that “balance” doesn’t mean all things to all people. For some, an intense focus on work and career might provide them with the personal satisfaction they are seeking, while for others, time spent with family is paramount. Still other people might place less importance on their work lives and place greater emphasis on their personal pursuits – like travel, sports or other recreational activities. Each individual has to decide for themselves what a “balanced life” means to them but in all cases, I think, there are several facets in life that should be addressed in order for an individual to attain their goals, whatever they might be.

Physical Balance – One cannot emphasize enough the importance of physical health. Without it, almost all the other goals that one would like to achieve and enjoy are more difficult to attain. Of course, each of us is going to define for ourselves what level of physical health and physical fitness is acceptable to us. For some, daily maintenance of some basic lifestyle goals is sufficient – for example, using a fitness tracker to meet their goal for a number of steps per day. Or making a concerted effort to stand throughout the day, whether it’s working at a modular desk, standing during phone calls, or making a commitment to take a brief walk every 30 minutes or so. Of course, some others are going to have more aggressive fitness goals – whether it’s running a marathon, engaging in daily workouts at the gym, or being committed to yoga, dance or some other form of exercise. The point is that maintaining good physical health is a necessary element in achieving a balanced life.

Health Balance – Along with physical exercise and fitness, one must make an effort to eat and drink more nutritiously. There is so much information available about what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet – an emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, and whole grain carbohydrates. And we also know that it is wise to avoid sugar, sodas, tobacco, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Still, in keeping with our theme of balance and moderation, some license to splurge, now and then, has to be allowed.

Financial Balance – Each of us has to determine for ourselves what our spending and savings priorities will be. Some people will naturally be more cautious and conservative in their approach – they are likely to save more and indulge less in short-term pleasures. While others believe that we work to live and so they are more inclined to spend money on those things that provide them with immediate gratification. Whatever one’s habits and proclivities might be, I will say that I am a firm believer in having a financial plan in place. A plan will allow an individual to establish clear-cut goals and will provide a road map to achieve them. Regardless of one’s priorities, having a plan is an important component in achieving a balanced financial life, and for providing the security and stability that most of us seek.

Mental Balance – Let’s face it, we lead stressful lives. And science and medicine have made it abundantly clear that stress can have severely debilitating effects on a person’s life. Therefore, it’s extremely important to find ways to mitigate our stress on a daily basis. Whether it’s engaging in meditation activities a couple of times a day, or simply finding a quiet place to relax and breathe deeply in order to calm the mind. Another important ingredient is to make sure that one is getting sufficient sleep. There is probably no better way to relieve stress and restore mental balance than to get ample, peaceful and restful sleep.

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Relationship Balance – We all have relationships, whether it’s immediate family, extended family, friends or professional colleagues. And we all have to manage those relationships in such a way that they are a source of comfort, delight and satisfaction, and not a source of frustration and irritation. Of course, we all have to make allowances and compromises in our relationships but it’s also fair to ask, “what’s the purpose of my relationship with this person and is it serving our highest and best interests?” Things evolve and people evolve and sometimes it’s necessary to reassess one’s relationships in order to figure out how they can be improved or enhanced. Also, it’s important to keep things in perspective – if you have a family, almost everything you do is for their well-being and protection, but you also have to be willing to give them the gift of your time and attention.

Achieving a life balance is not an easy undertaking but with commitment, discipline and management skills, a balance can be achieved to the benefit of all concerned.

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