For the longest time in my life, I’ve struggled with finding balance. I was always the guy that would get ridiculously excited about something and then let my world revolve around it until I lose interest. This has happened with everything from golf and rock climbing (which I usually get reinvigorated on about once a year) to business start up ideas. Oh the business ideas. I could go on for days with things that I was convinced would be the best businesses ever, only to lose interest a week later.
The point here is that rather than staying level headed and continuing to live a balanced life amidst the new found obsessions, I’d let them dictate how my life went. It is a very unflattering trait considering the lack of follow through on all of these things. It may not be so bad if in the process I became a scratch golfer and a millionaire 20 times over after selling so many successful businesses. But alas, this is not the case.
It can be even more difficult to find balance in an entrepreneurial and/or location independent situation. At least in a 9 to 5, you know that work is (hopefully) only going to take up those hours of the day. You have a convenient one hour window during lunch where you can work out, and then the rest of the time is spent doing whatever it is you want to be doing.
Well now I have 24 hours in a day to do whatever it is I want to be doing. Things aren’t so convenient anymore, and without a little discipline I end up letting Mr. Tropical MBA buy me buckets of beers every night.
NOTE: I should probably mention I’m at a bar drinking beer right now…well hey, I’m getting better at balance already! But I digress.
Now I have to force myself to structure my life in a way that I will be productive, and it has taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what that magical formula is. Even now that I know what it is, it certainly isn’t always easy to follow through. Much of this relates back to my post about Pretending to Have a Boss. I’m usually most successful when I plan in advance, and treat my life as though I have “real” job; although there are definitely people who disagree with this as evidenced by some of the comments.
If I don’t plan, I fail. Simple as that.
The days I’m most productive are the ones where I set a schedule the night before. I have a to-do list, which is set in stone. Meaning, once I finish something, I don’t add more stuff to the list. In an environment where you are thinking about work or projects 24/7 it allows you to remember to take some time to enjoy life! I should clarify that most of what I do I don’t consider work, since it excites me and I enjoy doing it. But sometimes even that isn’t enough to let procrastination slip in.
There are also a few key bullet points I’ve found to be absolutely vital to the idea of maintaining a balanced life:
- Get Enough Sleep. This week I got my first cold since I’ve been in Asia. I think the biggest reason for this was not getting enough sleep. I’m not gonna lie, when buckets of beer are only 3 bucks, it makes it really easy to stay out way too late. Especially considering that drinking seems to be about all people do in this country. You think I’m joking…
Note: I am not the alcoholic that this post is making me out to be.
- Exercise and Eat Well. I’ve never been very good at either of these things. Sure there have been periods of time where I’ve stuck to a fairly diligent workout schedule and ordered a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but let’s face it, it is way easier to be lazy and eat like it’s going out of style. This is a huge issue here in the Philippines. You are surrounded by American fast food joints, and Filipino food is even MORE unhealthy than that, if you can believe it. I think I’ve gained about 10 pounds in a week and a half. Since I finally made a vow to eat fruit, drink water, and swim 20 laps a day, I’ve felt better than I have in a long time. Well, at least I do today – the first day in weeks that I combined tips 1 and 2 together…I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes.
- Forget About Work. As I mentioned earlier, work can have a tendency to consume you if you let it. SO DON’T LET IT. Make time for all the things you really want to be doing. This goes for those of you in jobs too. I know a ton of people who have months of vacation time saved up, but feel too bad about using them. Take your vacations. Go to Bali with me.
- Ignore the Fact that these are Really Generic Tips. Because you know what? They are absolutely true. This is one of those posts that I’ll go back and review once a month when I forget all of the stuff that I am talking about here. Sometimes the answers are simple, you just need a good reminder.
Balance is essential to success in life. If you over indulge in one aspect or completely ignore another, it’s going to catch up with you eventually. That’s something I know you can all attest to as well. It doesn’t matter if it is drinking too much, working too much, not working enough, or even not having enough fun – life is a balancing act, so join the circus.
I’ve really gained perspective on this lately. Sometimes it takes being out of your element for a bit to bring things back to the basics of what is important and how to achieve that.