Achieving Balance

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Balance – it’s something that many of us strive to manage and achieve on a daily basis. When we don’t have it, things feel off, maybe miserable, or not how we wish we felt. There usually is much that we want to do for ourselves, and much that others have planned for us. How do you do it all or know when something has to give? You have to know yourself, and then you can identify what is important, learn to prioritize and give up that which does not serve us.

In a quest to find an answer to why I sometimes felt “off,” I created a visual of balance. I used a triangle to define and depict the things most important to me. On one side is my family, on another side is my career, and on the last side is the social element of my life, such as other friendships and personal development. It is ideal when all three sides are equilateral, but that usually isn’t the case. Normally the triangle looks like obtuse or scalene. As long as the long side is rotating regularly between family, career and the social side of life, I can manage balance. If one side of the angle remains extended longer than I like, then I too feel stretched. The other two sides become unbalanced and after a while, imbalance occurs, causing me to feel not myself. In crucial situations, I am off my game.

Years ago, I took a test designed to help me understand my career orientation. The Career Success Map Questionnaire (find a link to the test here: developed by Brooklyn Derr researched employees’ motivations in organizations. Understanding your own orientation helps you recognize where your priorities and values lie in order to help you make informed decisions about your career. Five career motivations are defined: Advancement, Security, Challenge, Freedom and Balance.

I was not surprised to find that my primary motivation was balance. I had been studying balance for some time, especially in the context of martial arts training. Physical balance is key to being an effective kicker, but also understanding the physical balance of others allows the practitioner to develop a strategy to protect oneself. Think about the legs on a chair. If one leg is shortened or removed, balance is gone. Our martial arts practice uses this premise to define technique when visualizing situations and how to avoid and leave the scenario as unscathed as possible.

Balance in Derr’s career motivation model is characterized by the desire to maintain equilibrium between work, relationships and self-development, much like I had already defined for myself with my “triangle.” Knowing how important balance is to me, the key to my own contentment, happiness and high performance is knowing how to maintain it. Find something you enjoy doing, and make it a healthy habit. That “something” is an escape. It allows you to drop your worries, even if only for a few minutes, so that you can return to your priorities with a better outlook, inner peace and ability to manage the pace of your life. Maybe you enjoy running 5k races, maybe you like painting, could be walking the dog, or maybe it’s five minutes of asana…whatever it is, do it…regularly…because the things that are important to you deserve the best of you. Your family, friends and co-workers will enjoy you more because of it.

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