Want to Get More Done than You Ever Thought Possible? Find Your Balance
Today’s society, and especially this holiday season, generally leaves many feeling stressed, overwhelmed and drained. We can’t deny the fact that we live in a fast paced world that always seems to be demanding more of us. If we’re not careful, we can easily be thrown into patterns of thinking that lead us further and further off the path of balance. For the book, Mastering the Art of Success, which I authored along with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, I was interviewed. The first question I was asked was simply this:
How do I define success?
“For me, success is the contentment that comes from having a well rounded balance in all areas of your life and the knowledge that you are fulfilling your purpose. If a person is unbalanced or lacking in any one area, it can literally throw the other areas of his or her life into turmoil, or a lack of success.”
The foundation of success, then, is balance. A balance of work, home life, relationships, free time to think, dream and grow, time to pursue hobbies or passions, community involvement, and a healthy spiritual life. Unfortunately, that’s not always the message we get from mass media and even others who are involved in our lives.
Our consumer based society wants to tell us that success is defined by status, power, and material possessions. Many get caught up in this lie and lose sight of what’s truly important, along with their inner peace and any real sense of joy. That’s why so many homes look neat and tidy on the outside, but are filled with discontentment and chaos from within. This type of stress, of course, can spiral into a hundred possible scenarios, such as divorce, depression, or other unmanageable situations.
Can we actually guard against this? Yes. Although our lives will probably never be completely stress-free, — and that’s not even desirable, since a certain amount of stress pushes us toward our goals and self growth. But we certainly can rid ourselves from unhealthy levels of stress and find the balance that makes life enjoyable. How? Simplify.
Perform a Life Assessment
How do we simplify? Let’s look at it from a business standpoint. If you owned a retail store, ideally you would perform a yearly inventory to determine which products or services add value to your business and which do not. Successful businesses do this all the time. They streamline. In order to perform a life assessment, we need to come at it from the same angle.
Take a look at your life. What fills it? What things add value and which do not. Make a two column list of pros and cons if you have to. If you take the time to sit down and listen, several things will come to mind that are a problem in your life. Maybe it’s debt, unhealthy eating habits, long hours on an unfulfilling job, or even certain people who are a negative influence and extremely draining. Are you too busy with extra-curricular activities? Is there too much clutter in your home? Do you need more down time? No one can find your balance for you. You’ll have to do that for yourself. Once you’ve assessed your life, it’s time to simplify.
How to Simplify Your Life
Here’s an important key. Generally, an attempt at an entire life overhaul is a bad idea. It will just cause more stress. If you want to change careers and start living a more healthy lifestyle at the same time, take one step at a time. Work on your career while you are slowly but consciously making healthier food choices. Need to get more exercise? Ok, don’t purchase all the gear, join the local gym, and tell yourself you’ll start getting up at 6 am and running a mile every day, starting tomorrow. I know this sounds crazy, but so many people cause themselves even MORE stress just by trying to make changes in their lives. They set themselves up for failure and end up right back at square one. Remember, balance is key. So, let’s recap:
- Take an honest inventory of the positive and negative things in your life. Find out what causes you stress. Determine to remove the negatives and replace with positive.
- One thing at a time. Remove distractions and don’t try to change the course of your life in one day. Do one thing at a time and do it to the best of your ability. Have you ever heard the quote, “Wherever you are, be all there?” Apply it here.
- Simplify your schedule. Your time is of great value. Guard it and treat it as such. Reduce your commitments to the essentials and learn to set healthy boundaries. Begin to drop off the commitments that are not beneficial.
- Assess your financial health. As a business advisor who spends a lot of time discussing investment strategies, the number one source of stress out there involves debt and a lack of proper planning for financial futures. Take an honest look at your finances and then map out a plan. What needs to happen? Are you losing investment earnings from high fees or investments you don’t quite understand? Take the time to figure it out. That uneasy feeling about your retirement isn’t going to resolve itself. Take ownership of every part of your finances. If you are planning on seeking advice from a financial advisor, be sure they are a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) or Registered Fiduciary.
- Schedule your day. Along with simplifying your schedule, be sure that you actually ARE scheduling your day. If you practice this you’ll be much less likely to waste time or lose time on activities that aren’t productive or necessary. Part of streamlining your life involves making time for the things that are beneficial. Don’t forget to schedule time in the morning for yourself. Rushing into your day starts it off without balance. I take time for my devotions and simply to think and meditate. You’ll be surprised at how many solutions to problems and creative ideas come to you during this time you take for yourself.
Don’t buy into society’s idea of success or the chaotic atmosphere it produces. Success starts with balance, and balance begins when you are living your best and most productive life.
Bryan Binkholder, The Financial Coach, is a catalyst for change in the financial industry. With a true passion to make a difference, Bryan offers practical insights on financial topics, investment strategies, and business success. As a business advisor, motivational speaker and author, Bryan is best known for exposing the inner workings of Wall Street and bringing clarity to common investment misconceptions. Be sure to take advantage of his two most popular resources: 7 Deadly Traps of Investing and The Six Pitfalls of Retirement Planning and look for his latest book, 401(k) Conspiracy, authored with Jim Winkelmann of Blue Ocean Portfolios. If you are a business owner, plan sponsor, or 401(k) plan participant, you’ll want this information.