Growing up, I was bombarded with messages from school, my family, and the media, just like everyone else. The messages I heard probably sound familiar to you – go to school, work hard, put in the effort, and you will achieve everything your heart desires. I know that many people have claimed that these messages have been damaging for the younger generations. This message became ingrained and integrated into every fiber of my being. This message was almost perfect for me….except that it wasn’t.
This messaging does not highlight that the journey will be hard or long or that your journey may get re-routed. This message does not teach you anything about HOW to achieve what your heart desires. It tells you to work hard and it will become yours. Of course, you will need to work hard, that’s a given.
This messaging does not highlight that there could be limitations, either within your area of interest or personal limitations. It does nothing to highlight the need for resiliency. Life is a journey. There will naturally be up’s and down’s and although that seems obvious, the messaging me and many others heard, sweeps this whole concept under the rug.
Do you know what else this message is missing? The fact that life should be more than achievement. This is a novel concept for someone like me, someone who is wired with achievement as the focal point. Without family, friends, happiness, health, your achievements are pretty empty. But this messaging is only focused on one’s life work, nothing else. Everything else which makes life sweet is traded or marginalized in the pursuit.
So what do you do?
Do you trade all of the pursuit for life with family, friends and hopefully, health and happiness too? No. Of course not. Life is not black and white, as much as some people would like it to be. What you do is strive to achieve BALANCE.
And before you tell me that balance is not achievable, let me stop you right there. Just like I said life is not black and white, neither is balance. Balance is not intended to be constrictive, it’s intended to create FLEXIBILITY.
What does this look like?
Instead of having a rigid approach to your life with to-do’s that must be completed every day, you should strive to outline what it is that you want to experience in your life and create a flexible plan to meet this vision.
This sounds simple. In some ways, it is. But, it requires a completely different approach to life. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say your vision includes being fit. Great. Does this mean you need to go to the gym every day for 2 hours from 5-7? No. First you need to define your standard for “fit.” Perhaps, this means you would like to exercise 3-4 times a week. This is a much looser requirement. This gives you flexibility to listen to your body and mix it up. It also allows you to feel like you are in control versus your requirements being in control. Do you know what else this does? This allows you to feel successful. If you stick with the previous definition, and you are not able to make it to the gym every day, you will feel like you can’t keep commitments to yourself. That is a very slippery slope and is not good when you’re trying to achieve a sense of balance. This new approach lets you adjust. For instance, you could go for a run around your neighborhood one day, take a yoga class another day, hit the gym and the weights on another day. Do you want to know a secret? This approach also keeps you excited about life and your goals versus feeling like you “have to” do something.
Feel like sharing? What do you do to achieve balance?
Seize the carp!