We live very busy lives compared to a couple hundred years ago. A seemingly endless to-do list, with ever less time in which to complete it. We prioritise items on our to-do list, but many things are constantly fighting for our attention – the latest breaking news notification, an urgent email that needs replying to, a phone call from a telemarketer when we’re in the middle of a task.
We don’t believe that all human beings can be put into a single category – we understand that people’s definition of balance will vary; we simply want to shed light on the way that we think about balance.
Let’s use a professional marathon runner as an example. This individual by marathon running standards would be extremely fit, however, when measured against the 10 components of fitness, they’d only really tick a couple of boxes, meaning that they don’t have a good level of general fitness. Specialists, such as marathon runners, tend to live imbalanced lives, their sole focus is their chosen discipline, and this often comes at the expense of other area in their lives. On the other hand, the general population, who for the most part are not specialists, should seek general balance across all the important areas in their lives instead.
“I believe [balance is] like a frisbee balancing on a pencil … You have your work; you have your family; you have your friends; you have your faith or religion or spirituality; you have your hobbies; you have all of these things going on in your life.” (Bergeron, 2019, 00:04:34) Think about all those things having their place on the frisbee and keeping them all balanced at the same time – a tough balancing act indeed.
“To me, the biggest failure is achieving things that don’t matter. I don’t want to be chasing something that does not matter. This is why balance matters … What are the things that you [want] to look back on and say I’m really glad that I put time and effort and energy and resources into these things, and then create the balance amongst those [things].” (Bergeron, 2019, 00:11:27)
We’re all climbing ladders in different areas of our lives, but we need to make sure that the ladders are leaning up against the right walls.
For most people it has to do with 5 things:
1. Work, achievements, career
4. Friendships and other important relationships
5. Passions, pursuits, hobbies
6. Potentially also spirituality
Now, imagine we were playing a game in which we were juggling each of those things in the form of a ball. The goal is to keep all 5, potentially 6 balls up in the air at one time. Now, imagine that the balls are in fact made of glass, and if we drop one of them, it might get scuffed, scratched, cracked, or permanently destroyed. For example, we could focus on work. Instead of working 40-hour weeks, we work 80-hour weeks and completely neglect all the other balls – we might never get those other balls back. Interestingly, the one called work is actually not made of glass, it’s made of rubber, and if we drop it, it will bounce back. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of people treat the work ball as if it’s made of glass, and all the other balls as if they’re made of rubber. We absolutely should have a career, but recognise that the other ones matter just as much, if not more.
Human beings can be extremely ambitious. Our ambition often tends to mainly be directed toward our careers, because it’s easily measured. The results are tangible. Either we got the promotion, or we didn’t. Either we got the raise, or we didn’t. As an entrepreneur the feedback is even faster – every month you’re getting feedback and validation, because if you’re not doing well, you will go out of business very quickly. There’s a constant feedback loop. It’s tough to measure other areas as easily, but imagine we directed our ambition toward all the other important things in our lives. Imagine we created a feedback loop for everything that’s important to us. We think people would do things a lot differently if each area was measured and we could assess our progress as easily as with our careers.
General balance is not for everyone
Let’s return to the marathon runner example. The fact that the individual chooses to go all in on their talent is phenomenal. The amount of training that’s required to be a world-class marathon runner will undoubtedly mean that they aren’t living a balanced life, and that’s absolutely fine, provided that running marathons is what sets them on fire and brings them happiness and fulfilment.
Awareness about the lack of balance is paramount.
When they go for a run at 7pm on a Saturday night they don’t see it as a sacrifice. They don’t say “I can’t believe I’m missing out on that dinner party for this.” They’re choosing to do what they’re doing. They know that they lack balance, and it’s a price that they’re willing to pay. If we’re doing something and we think to ourselves “I wish that I was doing this or that instead,” that would be a red flag.
Now, not everyone wants to be the best in the world at what they do, or they’re not willing to pay the price in other areas, and that’s okay. We can live a balanced life instead, but happiness should always be the north star.
A few questions we could ask ourselves:
– What am I giving my attention to?
– Should I be giving this my attention?
– By giving this my attention, does it lead to happiness? Not happiness one day, but happiness right now.
Some people decide to put happiness off. They say something along the lines of, “I’m going to put my head down and work really hard for 20 years, retire, and then I’m going to live my life.” Unfortunately, by the time they retire in 20 years they’ve got no friends, no relationship with their family, no hobbies, and their health is a cause for concern. That is the type of unhealthy imbalance we’re trying to bring awareness to because it doesn’t lead to happiness.
“I want to blur the line between work and play today … I want to make sure I’m keeping all the balls juggled up in the air. If I happen to drop one, let it be work, because I know it’ll bounce back. And then from there, hopefully at any given point in my life, I can look and [say] everything is in place, I’m okay with where I am. Yeah, some places may be at an 8.5 [out of 10] and others at 6.5 [out of 10], but I don’t want anything to be below a 6 where it’s a threat.” (Bergeron, 2019, 00:25:22)
Thank you for reading this post
We hope that you found the information in the post valuable. If you’re looking for a professional coach to help you on your health & fitness journey, please feel free to contact us here.
Defining & Pursuing Balance (2019) YouTube Video, added by Ben Bergeron [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCR2igrRPjM [Accessed: 27 April 2020]