Life’s Rich Balance

Life’s Rich Pageant by R.E.M.

Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned this year is to really achieve balance in my life. When I was younger, I used to put way too many eggs in one basket – I would work 70 hour weeks or I would spend all of my time worrying about my kids – the lesson I learned is you can care too much. I think naturally, men have that cave man gene – to go out and hunt and collect, and that “more is better”, leading to a tipped scale.

Work tends to be the one aspect of life where you can fall into a trap where you care too much – and when you mix emotion and business together, that’s when you set yourself up in a vulnerable position. The same thing can happen with taking care of your kids or aging adults – I know – I have done all of these things.

This year has been a year of very serious discipline – eating smaller portions of better food, going to the gym and burning 800 calories a day minimum – my highest recorded day was 3850 – but where I have averaged about 1000 calories a day. At work I have worked very hard – and yes – smarter than usual – and where I am delivering a system that is much better than last year, albeit along the same lines – but where I learned last year – no matter how good that system was – this years is much better – so don’t get too enamored with what you do today – and certainly don’t put too much emotional energy in it. I have been religiously playing guitar, and for just over 2 years I have been commuting with a bike – and I have no car of my own. I also spend time on my hobbies.

What I have learned is that switching gears and “time boxing” how much emotional and physical energy I spend on any one thing leads to a much more balanced and healthy life. I feel way better and am much happier than I was before – and I have always been upbeat. The problem before is that I did leave myself open for a vulnerability by tipping the scale too far in one direction.

I think what is happening is that I have enough separate interests and “diversions” that it acts like insurance against disappointment when one thing goes south. If one of many interests flags, I can take comfort in the safe harbor of many other things going well. And one thing you can count on in life is that “2 out of 3 ain’t bad” – is a better way to set expectations – that the best you can realistically expect is that most things in life will go well, but that its never perfect. And that many times – what seems like a really bad situation turns out to be the most enriching thing that can happen – and that the pain of it can turn into the best that life has to offer. This has happened with work – from last year to this year.

The magic in this thinking is that by proper expectation setting, all things then seem to go better – there is a balancing or blending of ingredients that is like a great recipe – where when you get all of the right ingredients in the right proportion, the meal is a big success.

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