life in balance

Life in Balance: Finding Fulfillment in Work Life and Leisure

In the last couple of posts, I’ve written in detail about activities that Brendon Burchard suggests that we make regular habits as high performers.

Being a high performer in one aspect of life is unfortunately what a lot of people focus on. This aspect is going all out in their work. They essentially become work-o-holics because that’s what is promoted. Their life is based on playing their particular game or professional at the highest level.

Many people put work over other priorities in life.

However, when someone goes head deep in their work, they often find themselves unfulfilled. In another recent post, I wrote about how in the next couple of years, we’re going to start seeing several of our favorite “hustle” based entrepreneurs and thought leaders talk more and more about life balance.

Making the Case for Life Balance

When we think of ourselves outside of our work life, things get interesting quick. Reason why is that in western culture, so many people define themselves by what they do for income. And it’s easy to see why this is the case.

However, as previously mentioned, it’s imperative that we see ourselves as more than what we do as a day job. The worst thing we can do is set ourselves up in a situation where if we are somehow relieved of our duties, we end up not knowing what to do with ourselves.

For those of us in the traditional job world, this often comes through retirement.

Some of us have probably seen the effect that comes with retirement on our elders. Once they’ve retired, many feel like they need to go do some random job just to feel relevant again. Or worse yet, they simply pass away.

In that same vein, I remember the additional stress that my mom was going through as she was nearing retirement. After being a teacher for 30+ years, she really didn’t have much of an identity outside of that. She was quite concerned about this when she passed.

Since then, I’ve talked with a lot of her peers and people her age, and the number one thing I’ve heard that has “saved” them is that they learned how to “keep busy” outside of their old profession.

Getting Clarity on Life Balance

So how do we keep busy in a way that’s meaningful? It’s all about maintaining a life balance. But what does life balance really look like? Depending on who you ask, I think it tends to vary. Some would say that you need to balance your time with your family. Others would say that you need to step out of your comfort zone and be more adventurous. Yet others might say “start a hobby” or work on yourself outside of your work skills.

So which is it?

I’d say it’s a combination of these things.

When I first started the NI blog, I wrote about the 5 Pillars of Happiness (and I would later revisit it when I rebooted the blog 5 years later in 2015). Fulfilling each of these gives you a lot more overall happiness.

However, as I’ve been thinking about this topic a bit more since then and talking with multiple guests of the AoL Podcast, I’ve come to realize that you can break these pillars down further into more specific items.

So let’s look at this further break down.

Further Breakdown of the Pillars of Happiness

1. Mental

In the previous post, I suggested that relationships were a part of mental fulfillment. They are. However, they’re a two way street. So I want to make this differentiation a bit more. Things that fall within the mental category are items affect our perspective of the world. They live in our own mind.

So personalities, attitude, expression of emotions, need for adventure – these are all things that when we fulfill them, put us in a better or refreshed state of mind.

2. Relationships

When it comes to relationships, what’s important here is not so much what we get out of relationships. In fact, it’s the value that others get from us. Are we an elevator or a weight on them?

So what’s our effect on our families? Our friends? How do our spouses or significant others feel about time with us? Do they all come away better after spending time with us or do we suck the energy out of them?

If you really want to have a cheat when it comes to this category – learn about love languages. By default, people generally treat others by utilizing love languages they prefer.

3. Health

One of the things that Brendon discussed in the Habits book, was having energy as a high performer. I really like how he breaks that down. Sure, eating the right things, exercise, and sleep are all parts of having energy.

But there’s more to it than that. We need to also be more preventative about our health as well.

For example, if you were to think about the energy of the car, you’d think a car gets its energy from fuel. However, if you want to have a “healthy” car – you’d make sure that you regularly check the oil, the transmission fluid, and all the other caps that are fairly easy for us as operators to access under the hood.

Well, the same is true for people. We need to make sure we keep track of this stuff more and more as we get older. Otherwise you’re going to end up with a problem that isn’t a cheap fix.

4. Spiritual

Ok, now, this is one that people have kind of lost sight of over the last few decades. Due to the fact that as a culture we’ve become more educated and don’t see the need for religion as much as we once did, spirituality has kind of taken a back seat.

However, when we’re talking about our passions, our purpose, and the work we’re supposed to do in life, spirituality is right at the top of that discussion.

The questions “What do you feel you’ve been called to do?” or “What were you born to do?” instantaneously takes you to that discussion.

One of the biggest problems that people goof up on today is that they associate their work with the next pillar, finances. They feel that as long as they’re getting paid, then the job that they’re doing is what they should be putting their time into.

This is such a bassackward perspective that it’s no wonder that people are unfulfilled at the work they do. When you take a position based on what motivates and drives you instead of it paying the bills, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll be fulfilled with that role.

However, when you can take your 3 P’s and base your own company from them, then you have a much higher potential of achieving true personal freedom.

5. Finances

So if the finances pillar isn’t about having a job, what is it?

It’s simply your ability to properly manage the income that you get. Meaning that you have bills to pay, true – but what’s the priority of those bills versus saving for the future?

Maybe it’s even something at another level. Maybe it’s not even not trying to keep up with the Jones’. Having less to pay for gives you less stress on your income. Therefore, you have more time to develop your other pillars because you won’t need to work as much.

If you’re in a situation where you feel drained all the time because you’re working a position which is just paying you and not giving you any fulfillment, then you’re a paid slave. That’s why you’re not fulfilled and unhappy.

6. The Little Things:

There are things in this world that we use to get our minds off of all the stuff that’s going on in our lives. Hobbies are a great example of this. Gaming has always been my getaway. For people who aren’t digitally inclined, it might be working with their hands. I always remember Gibbs from NCIS working on his boats in his basement when I think of hobbies.

However, just remember that this isn’t what you should make your life about (well, unless you really want to be the next Twitch Streamer or YouTuber). They’re simply a way for your brain to turn off a bit just enough so you can clear your thoughts.

Action Steps

So, if you’re into your work so much that you’re letting weeds grow in the rest of your life, you might want to consider that. Chances are that the more balanced you are, the better luck you’ll have in your work and – if done right – your mission.

Let me know below if you have any questions or have recently found new habits that have worked for you in these pillars.

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