I am a big fan of living a balanced life. But what does this mean? Numerous articles and blog posts opine on balance but none describe what it looks like. Knowing it takes physical, mental, and spiritual resilience to achieve overall fitness, does that mean you should spend eight hours a day on each one? Or should time spent on each be apportioned evenly on a weekly or monthly basis?
Achieving and maintaining fitness in the physical realm is going to take the bulk of your time. You need to sleep seven to eight hours a day. When you add eating, exercising, and working, this one realm consumes at least one-half of your life.
Having worked with service members and civilians struggling to attain balance, I am convinced time is only one factor. But because it is easily quantified, people default to it as the standard for measuring balance. But other factors influence whether the time you spend is appropriate within the context of competing priorities that support a balanced life.
Here are some balance points to consider:
- Stage of Life. Creating a primary relationship requires more time creating than maintaining it. Young children need more attention than adult ones do. Building a business or career typically consumes more time in the early years. How you define balance changes as your life progresses.
- Skill Level. Being adept at sustaining interpersonal relationships makes them less demanding than pursuing an objective, such as healthful lifestyle habits, at which you may be less proficient. Devoting more time to developing certain skills and habits is a long-term investment in life balance.
- Age and Degree of Maturity. Fashionable as it is to discount these factors, young people tend to need more time to sort through challenges and issues simply because they have less experience. Greater energy does not compensate. Gaining spiritual resilience challenges young service members far more so than their seniors. Many would gain greater life balance by devoting considerable time to strengthening their spirituality.
- Intensity. For some pursuits, the more vigorously you engage in them the less you need in conjunction with other tasks. It takes less time running than walking to maintain fitness. But beware of applying this to all things. Notions such as quality time, rather than quantity time, do not support bonded relationships.
- Essentialness. Balance requires accommodating those aspects of life crucial to your wellbeing and achievement of your goals. It is not unusual to convince yourself that certain task or interests are crucial when a more critical analysis would show them to be less important. Running a marathon may give you an enormous sense of accomplishment. But if you get enough exercise and your marriage is suffering, striving for life balance necessitates finding fulfillment by devoting time to improving your marriage rather than additional physical training.
Rather than measuring life balance as a function of time, think of it in terms of attaining goals reflective of resilience in the realms of physical, mental, and spiritual resilience. Click on each realm to get an idea of what constitutes fitness.
If you are making progress in all three, it is a fair bet your life is balanced.
What are the balance points in your life?
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