Balancing Act ... That's all life is!

Jul 17 21:00 2002 Edward B. Toupin Print This Article

One of the most ... and ... ladies I know imparted uponme the ultimate ... of living a ... life. As I awaited along, ... ... she took a small breath, pointed

One of the most knowledgeable and intuitive ladies I know imparted upon
me the ultimate knowledge of living a fulfilling life. As I awaited a
long,Guest Posting heartfelt soliloquy, she took a small breath, pointed her finger
and said, "balance." That was it. My only question was, "what?" She
simply chuckled and walked away.

Over the years, I slowly began to understand her single word. It wasn't
an easy lesson as, in my head, I was balanced. But, the true
understanding of balance comes when you realize that you are truly out
of balance. In life, whether you know it or not, you're always out of
balance in one way or another. But, your "only" job in life is to work
toward attaining balance and keeping that balance in your life.

--- My only job? ---

To reiterate ... your "only" job in life is to attain balance and keep
balance in your life. That's it! Life is just that simple. That is,
if you want it to be. To explain this concept, let's consider a few
elements of an average life:

1. You have a job.
2. You have a wife.
3. You have kids.
4. You have a house.
5. You have a car.
6. You go fishing on weekends to get away from it all.
7. You have a hobby.

For most people, each one of these life components seem to exist as
separate entities and they all affect one another. This is where the
problems begin. You spend too much time at work and you're tired when
you get home. In turn, you don't have time to spend with the wife and
kids. Your money goes out the window to pay for everything including
the house and the car. You have to get away, by yourself to go fishing,
or whatever, so you can re-gather your strength to do it all over again
the next week. You love your hobby and want to do it full time, but you
just can't find the time. This situation can drag you down and cause
strain on your job, your family, and your life in general.

However, did you ever stop and think that all of these "different" life
components are actually smaller parts of one larger component? Instead
of viewing them as separate pieces of life, view them as being the
aspects that make up your "one and only life." Since it's obvious that
these individual elements all interact in one way or another, why not
let them? Instead of allowing one to interfere with the other, learn
how to allow them to enhance the direction of your life.

--- It's a lonely job ... ---

Once you are able to understand how the different components of your
life all fit together and enhance one another. Your next task is to
determine how you can balance these components to provide a greater
level of satisfaction and fulfillment. This is your first project as
"Manager of Your Own Life."

* Job

So many people are scared to lose their jobs so they pour their souls
into it for hours at a time. The single job appears to be the only
thing that can help you survive and eventually becomes your entire life.
But, what is the benefit from overworking yourself? Since most people
are on salary, whether you work eight hours or 18 hours a day, you're
paid the same.

A job is only a part of your life and a way to provide security for
yourself and your family as well as satisfaction for yourself. It is
not your life. Evaluate your abilities and determine if it's the job or
the money that you want. If it's the money, then you must learn to find
something that pays you what you want. If it's the job, then you must
learn how to rearrange the job for greater fulfillment and prioritize to
best meet the needs of the rest of your life.

Realize that "loyalty to employees" is a thing of the past and that the
old family-oriented corporate giants no longer exist. You have to watch
out for yourself and ensure your own security. Security is important to
you and your family and it is something that you must establish for
yourself.

I found that, in my time in Corporate America, regardless of what I
achieved, I was not happy. After much searching and reorganizing of my
life, I found that I needed the freedom of freelancing. I found that
once I was able to center my talents and use them to their fullest, I
could make more money working for myself than in an office for someone
else. I was able to obtain the balance I needed by working a flexible
schedule at home to be with my family, doing something that I loved, and
still make the money necessary to provide the security for my family.

* Family

In most cases, when it's a toss-up between the job and the family, the
family will lose out. However, pressures from home and family can
affect your job and other aspects of your life. By adjusting your
priorities at work and determining what it is that's important, you can
better balance the conflicts that exist between the need for security
with work and the need to satisfy the family.

Believe it or not, the family does provide an intense sense of purpose
and satisfaction in one's life. It is something to be proud of and
cherished because it is something that you've created. If you feel that
your family has stalled or it doesn't provide the satisfaction you
desire, then you need to evaluate the reasons why things have changed.
Perhaps your time at work is taking away from your family. Perhaps the
stresses from the outside world are affecting your family life.

One of the things that I've learned with my family is that, when all
else fails, my wife is always there. We've been through some serious
situations ranging from fires and floods to death and destruction. We
even built two homes, remodeled another, and relocated to another state.
Yet my wife and I are still together and we are happier now than ever
before. The reason is that, even though we are two totally different
people, our objectives are the same. Our objectives were not always the
same, but we took the time to sit down and decide on what we wanted
together and what we wanted separately. Now, we are able to help each
other as well as stay out of each other's way so that we can reach our
objectives.

* Finances

Many people place a lot of value on money. But, money is not an
objective. Money is a way to provide security for yourself and your
family. Money is a way to measure success. Money is a means to reach
an objective. However, this one needs some explanation.

How much money is enough? If you say you want to make a lot of money,
how much is that? The amount of money that becomes "enough" is not
measurable. It is simply a moving target that becomes consuming because
there is no real metric to determine when you've reached your goal.
However, if you set an objective that you want to live comfortably and
own a nice house, then you now have a metric to measure your success.

Money will provide you with the means to live comfortably and own a nice
house. All you have to do is set a goal as to the level of comfort and
the level of home. For instance, you might want to be secure enough to
pay your bills and be able to go out every weekend. The house might be
a two story, 2500sf beauty and have certain characteristics. You now
have a set of goals for which the money becomes important. With that,
it is important to determine your personal goals in life, regardless of
finances, and then determine the finances required to meet those goals.
Your goals for fulfillment should always come first. The money is
simply a means to reach those goals.

However, you might feel, as many do, that you are in a pickle with
regards to your finances. You have doctor bills, lawyer bills, and
myriad other obligations. The same still applies. Of course, your
objective in life is not to pay off debts. Paying off debts is
ancillary to your primary goals involved in living your life. Once you
determine your goals in life, you will be able to figure out the ways
that are essential to clearing these debts and moving forward to your
goals.

* Extracurricular

Extracurricular activities are a very important part of a whole life.
You must to have something else to do besides going to work, coming
home, and just hanging out. Your additional activities should provide
you with happy, healthy satisfaction for your mind and soul.

In my family, my wife and I share our time. We are both ambitious souls
with very creative minds. We both want to do so many things and it is
essential that we allow ourselves the time to do so. We have managed to
organize our lives such that, our work allows us to bring in the money
and our hobbies allow us to be happily creative. However, we enjoy our
hobbies together. My wife sings and I produce her music. I write
screenplays and books and she adds emotion and her creative critiquing
skills. Since we enjoy our hobbies together, we are able to travel and
enjoy boating at the lake together and still do the things that keep us
happy and creative, separately.

Don't think reaching this point was a simple task. We had some serious
bouts and discussions to understand each other's needs and wants in
life. As we grew together, we came to understand that we can enjoy
ourselves together and separately without taking away from each other's
time yet adding to each other's success. How does this happen? It
takes patience and an understanding of what you want out of life. You
and your partner must know each other's needs and directions before you
can meet in the middle and come up with a life plan together.

--- ... somebody's gotta do it! ---

Once you take stock in your life and examine the various aspects that
are throwing your life out of balance, you have two choices: fix them or
get rid of them. You might feel that tossing something out of your life
is a bit extreme, but consider the situation. If you're fiddling with a
minor obstruction that doesn't somehow benefit your life, then why are
you doing it?

To begin to have a fulfilling life, your general priorities should be:

1. to satisfy your basic needs of food, water, and air;
2. to satisfy your needs of security and safety;
3. to satisfy your need for love and to be needed;
4. to satisfy your own self-esteem needs; and
5. to reach a point where you can begin to examine and experience your
own personal dreams and desires.

I once worked with a young man who was a "fixer." His goal in life was
to make sure that everyone around him was satisfied and moving in the
right direction. He would help his friends and family to the point of
utter exhaustion. I asked him why he did this and his reply was, "as
long as everything around me is good, I am good." His problem was that
everyone around him was happy and moving forward in their lives, with
his help. But, he never moved forward or did anything in the direction
of fulfilling his own life.

His situation was that he was stuck and didn't know how to get it in
gear. So, to make sure that his little, quiet, corner of the world was
safe and happy, he made sure that everyone else was safe and happy.
But, his balance came from the external world. However, as we examined
his situation, he found that his life was literally out of balance. His
entire existence was lived through the eyes of others and he had nothing
to show for it when everyone else moved on to other things.

The point is that you cannot get involved in things that do not fit into
your basic needs and direction. You must balance your life such that
those elements in your life focus on your fulfillment to help you
eventually reach a level where you can pursue your personal desires.

--- What's next? ---

Balance is the idea of bringing all aspects of your life together in
such a way as they all contribute to helping you reach your goals.
Balance can happen automatically if you can set a vision and understand
what it takes to get there. It can be a miraculous occurrence where all
aspects of your life just line up to aim you in the direction of your
desires. It can also be a struggle if you don't know what you want out
of life or where you want to go. Take control of your life and manage
the aspects of it such that you are living one, big, fulfilling life
instead of a bunch of small interconnected and interfering lives.

Don't expect to receive a pat on the back for a job well done. It is
easier for everyone else in your life that you remain out of balance so
that they can feel in-balance. It is essential that you learn to look
within yourself for your own gratification and congratulations.

It is your own inner demons brought on through years of training by
unbalanced people and environments that have given you the knowledge to
place yourself where you are now. Now, it's time to rid yourself of
those old demons and move forward with your new, balanced life the way
you feel it should be lived.

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Edward B. Toupin
Edward B. Toupin

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