Balance is a popular term thrown around by everyone from life coaches to therapists to financial gurus. The concept of balance is simple. Dictionary.com defines balance as:
- A weighing device, especially one consisting of a rigid beam horizontally suspended by a low-friction support at its center, with identical weighing pans hung at either end, one of which holds an unknown weight while the effective weight in the other is increased by known amounts until the beam is level and motionless.
- A state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.
- The power or means to decide.
- A state of bodily equilibrium: thrown off balance by a gust of wind.
- The ability to maintain bodily equilibrium: Gymnasts must have good balance.
- A stable mental or psychological state; emotional stability.
- A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design.
There are many definitions of balance, but for our purposes, it comes down to achieving equilibrium.
Stephen Covey's Seventh Habit is "Sharpen The Saw". His philosophy is essentially that you can't be fully effective and fulfilled by being one-dimensional and focusing only on work goals. You need to switch gears regularly to sharpen the saw -- become a well-rounded person by engaging in activities that help you grow personally so you can grow professionally as well.
You don't need 8 hours of relaxation or play to offset 8 hours of work every day. You can recharge your batteries by taking a little time to pursue something you enjoy, whether it's reading, playing with your kids, exercising, cooking, listening to music or anything else that will shift your focus from work to something different. I enjoy cooking for friends, reading, board games and working out with a friend. I also always try to add an extra day or two onto business trips just to spend a little time with friends. These are ways that I recharge and strive for my own version of life balance.
What do you do to sharpen your saw and create some balance in your life? If you can't think of anything, I challenge you to begin putting a balance plan together to take time for yourself, to nurture your physical self, your spiritual self, your social self and your relationships. I'm willing to bet adding balance in your personal life makes you happier and more productive at work.