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"Finding balance" is only good advice if...

My mom always told me that we should seek to find balance in everything we do.

It's great advice, and yet I’ve always struggled with the concept. Using work as an example, my experience has generally been that the harder I worked, the more progress I made, and this was hugely satisfying. Working extremely hard has generally paid off for me, so why would I need to seek balance?

I think it’s fairly obvious to say that any form of extremism in one facet of your life will result in a deficit in another. As whole humans, it’s impossible for it to be any other way. In my own life, whilst I made great gains at work, the price I paid for my extreme work ethic and travel schedule manifested in challenges with my family, friends and health.

With this in mind, I think we can all agree that finding balance in our lives is important. The more interesting question, at least for me, is what level of analysis to use when assessing balance? Said plainly, should we seek to find balance in our lives on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis? Should the objective be to get to the end of every day and say, “today was a well balanced day across all spheres of my life.” Or, should we seek to make the same statement at the end of every week, or month, or quarter, or year?

If I worked non stop for 6 months, and then chilled out entirely for the next six months, then, using the annual length of analysis, one could say that I had a balanced year. The issue here is that, for me, burning myself into the ground for six months straight results in unacceptable issues with health, family and friends.

It’s a hard question to answer for anyone else, but for me, I’ve found that asking this question on a monthly basis works very well, and seems to be the right level of analysis to balance short, medium and long-term objectives in my life. In my opinion, again using work as an example, there are days and even weeks where you need or want to work your butt off. There are opportunities which you want to run after, or deadlines which need to be met, and the way to get there is to work really hard for periods of time. For me, it’s unrealistic to achieve a state of balance every day, or every week, but over the course of a month I seem to be able to do it.

It’s normal, and even expected, to work really hard for periods of time in your life. That said, when this became my perpetual state for years on end, the cracks started to show in other areas of my life. Using the monthly level of analysis, I know that I can work extremely hard for days and weeks at a time, but I force myself to balance the scale over the period of one month - get proper rest on the weekends, make sure I'm present with my family in the evenings etc.

What’s the right level of analysis for you? How has your last day, week, month or year been across the multiple facets of your life? What do you need to shift?


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