Chapter 23 of my First book: Finding MY Balance. My Work-Life Balance! And trying really hard to maintain it, at first
CHAPTER 23: Finding MY Balance. My Work-Life Balance! And trying really hard to maintain it, at first.
When I think of Work-Life Balance,
I picture a stool.
In my case, because I now have 4 Life Quadrants,
I picture a 4-legged stool.
If one, or more legs (i.e. Quadrants) is broken, or in need of repair,
it is pretty tough to maintain one’s balance,
when sitting on that stool, or if you prefer, a chair.
When all 4 are synchronized and working well,
it makes that balancing act a whole lot EASYer.
But, that is often EASYER said, then done.
There is interaction and overlap between the Quadrants (i.e. Legs)
They are separate yet intertwined.
Hence my choice of this picture for the shape of my stool.
“Life Is Like Riding a Bicycle. To Keep Your Balance,
You Must Keep Moving” – Albert Einstein
January 19, 2018 until the Day I Die (Exact Date TBD): Managing my Portfolio. My BALANCED portfolio
If balance is all about continuing to move forward and, who am I to argue with Albert Einstein on that one, then the question that I am asking myself is, how do I make that EASYer on myself? In today’s crazy, go-go culture and environment, trying to find balance between work, rest and play sounds about as easy as finding the Holy Grail. And Finding the Holy Grail does not sound all that EASY.
Well, when I think of that desire to live a balanced lifestyle, that Holy Grail, I picture a juggler, standing on a stool, juggling. In this case, the juggler that I am picturing balancing on that stool looks a lot like me, little old me. Not only can I picture him, I can picture him at various times during my recent life journey. My recent life journey of change.
When I look back on him during that nasty period of time, there does not seem to be a whole lot of juggling going on. He appears to be just lying there, letting life pass him by. When I look back at him during that time, I don’t see much a stool there supporting him either. There are not many legs attached to his stool, and those that are still attached, are broken and in need of repair.
When I look back at him, a little later on, a few years later on, his stool, his THREE-legged stool, is starting to look a lot more stable and he seems to be really enjoying juggling his THREE balls on it. He seems to be pretty good at it as well. He seems to be enjoying interacting with other jugglers as well. Sometimes they even pass their balls back and forth to each other. A few drops along the way, but not bad. He is becoming a much better juggler.
When I look back at him again, even a little later on, as in just recently, he looks as if he is enjoying himself even more. And his juggling seems to be getting even better, despite the fact that he is now juggling FOUR balls and not just three. He looks even more stable despite juggling that extra ball. Maybe that is because his stool now has FOUR legs and not just three. Maybe that is because that stool is really starting to look sturdy. And maybe that is because, not only is he looking well practiced, so does that other person, or people, who seem to be there, to help him pick up that ball, every once in a while, when he drops it. Ok, maybe more than every once in a while. But hey, have you ever tried to juggled 4 balls?
Have you ever tried to juggle 4 balls on a stool that was not only missing a leg or two, they were all either missing or wobbly or in need of repair? I have. I tried it during my nasty period and I did not enjoy the experience. Moving forward, into my second half of my life, I have decided to employ a different approach.
For those of you who are already tiring with my overuse of analogies for leading a balanced lifestyle (i.e. juggling and stools and riding bicycles) I have one more that I would like to add to the mix. I have called upon Dave the “accountant” on a few occasions before. Well, now I am going to call on Dave the “Portfolio Manager”. And in this case, I am going to ask him to share with us his approach to managing a balanced portfolio (a.k.a. a balanced life).
You hear that Portfolio Manager Dave? You might have screwed up the portfolio for your investment club a long time ago by putting all of your eggs in one basket, but here is your chance to make amends. For the sake of us non-financial gurus, could you please share your approach. How is that for a challenge? As if juggling four balls for the first time in almost four years is not challenging enough.
I hear you Dave. Challenge accepted! Here you go! Here is my 3 Step approach to maintaining, or at least trying to maintain, a balanced portfolio.
Step 1 is to choose the number and type of asset classes that you would like to have in your portfolio. In your case, it sounds like after having tried out three for a while, you have decided to settle on four.
Step 2 is to decide what you would like to put into each one of them, or in your case, what activities you would like to undertake in them. You will be monitoring and changing them constantly so try not to choose too many. Some will go as planned and others will not. You will want to adjust the mix accordingly. Oh! And don’t forget to keep an eye on the objectives of your balanced portfolio (a.k.a. YOUR Values) when selecting what you do, and most importantly, who you do it with.
Step 3 is to continue the monitoring. As long as your portfolio is active, you will want to check up on it every once in a while, to see if it is still balanced or if, for some reason, it has become un-balanced, in which case you will have some changes to make. Some changes to WHAT you are doing or HOW you are doing it or most importantly of all, WHO you are doing it with.
There you go Dave! How did you like your balancing your life portfolio 101 course? Now, if you don’t mind, I have some business-related emails to send out by 3:55 PM. Then I am heading out to pick up the kids. We are going skating tonight. Finishing up my first draft of my first book will have to wait until tomorrow. Two days and 4 chapters to go in order to finish in time for my 53rd Birthday. I will be celebrating it with a beautiful woman in my life this year. Yes, my 4th Life Quadrant is now, once again, part of the mix. Go Davey Go. And Happy Birthday Buddy!
Summer of 2017: Finding my discipline. Adding another balancing act to the mix
IDEATION. As previously mentioned, coming up with ideas is one of my “strengthfinders 2.0” strengths. Turns out, it was also a big part of my communication style. Apparently, my communication style, according to the PCSI framework, is that of a “Presenter”. One of the strengths associated with this presenter communication style is that the individual is “an idea factory”. Another strength is that they know how to have fun. FUN! Wow! My new-found state of being! How cool is that!
What about the blind spot(s) associated with that communication style? One of them is supposedly “poor operational follow through”. Say what? You mean that I am actually supposed to follow through with all those ideas? There are way too many of them! Even too many for my “strengthfinders” ACTIVATOR strength to balance things out. Yikes! Now I am starting to realize how come I often feel like I am all over the place.
All over the place, and all over my Four Life Quadrants, and often, all over them all at the same time. Ever heard of the saying “trying to do too much in too little time?” Ever heard of the saying “trying to eat more that you can chew?” Wow! Talk about a lack of presence. And remember, there are only 168 hours in a week. Subtract 52 hours for sleep and there is not a whole lot of time left for squeezing in everything else that I want to do. 1,680 hours in a week is likely not even enough to pack everything that I want and sometimes try and do in. No wonder I was feeling a little all over the place. And the 1,680 hours is just for the fun stuff.
The non-fun stuff is not included in the 1,680 hours. The non-fun stuff that I was basically avoiding and just letting slide. Letting that stuff slide, until it would come back and haunt me, usually when I was in one of my other life quadrants. Well, it is hard enough being present in this day and age, so having stuff from one of my other quadrants, distracting me while I was in another quadrant, was not doing much for my attempts at being in the moment. What to do?
Well in this case, I decided that in order to find my balance among my Four Life Quadrants, I would require a little more balance in how I was managing them. And that balance came from embracing a bit more discipline. Fun was still going to dominate my thoughts and my dreams and my actions but I was going to balance my actions with a little more discipline. And how exactly was I going to do that?
Well, firstly, I would draw upon one of my other Top 5 “strengthfinders” strengths, and that was, RESPONSIBILITY. People who possess this strength “take psychological ownership of what they say they will do.” Next, I would draw upon the functionality of my electronic calendar, in order to start setting some time aside to actually start doing some things. Both the things that I wanted to do and the things that I needed to do. And I would use a color coding scheme to keep track of them.
I decided to use the color red, the color of my heart, for time spent with my sweetheart and yellow, the color of the sun, for time spent with my family. My time at the office also had a color. Remember, I am trying to limit myself to an average of 40 hours a week in my business quadrant, so what better way to keep myself honest, than tracking it. Sound a little anal as approach? Maybe, but, hey, if it works, go with it. And then, last but not least, it came down to execution.
I still remember one Monday during the summer of 2017. I was in a quaint little coffee shop out in the country, typing away on one of my blogs, drinking tea while listening to my music on my earphones. I was focused. I was in my zone. I was in my quadrant, my business quadrant in that case. The writing was flowing. Writers block! What is that? And then it happened. I got a 15-minute calendar reminder that 5:00 PM EST was fast approaching, and that I had an appointment elsewhere. Turns out that I had a date with my sweetheart. Dinner, and a walk and some talk in the country, was on the agenda. So, I finished what I was doing and started packing up, and off I went to spend some time in my next Life Quadrant. And, as it turned out, the walking and talking is all that I ended up doing that night. I was spending time with my sweetheart, quality time with my sweetheart, one of our top love languages by the way.
I was spending time with my sweetheart. I was not spending my time thinking or worrying about my book, or my business, or my finances, or my kids, or paying that overdue bill. No, I was in the moment, and it felt really great. The bill payments would have to wait, until Saturday morning, according to my calendar. The bill payment and thinking of the bill payment would have to wait because I was being disciplined and spending my time where I was supposed to be spending it. I was spending it with who I was supposed to be spending it with. She showed up for our date, both physically and mentally, so it only seemed fair that I do likewise.
Would I be as disciplined when it came time to deal with some of the activities that were less fun? Well, that is where the discipline really comes in handy. Either I figure out a way to make those activities fun, or I outsource them, or I just do them and get them out of the way. Either way, if they need to get done, then I want to get them done. That way, when my next calendar invite comes up, I will be ready.
I will be ready to spend some quality time on that activity in that quadrant and not thinking about my unpaid bills. Ready to spend some more quality time with whoever that might be with. Be it myself enjoying some downtime, or enjoying some time with my children or some time with a client or with potential client. I will be there. I will be present. Maybe not all the time, but with little bit more discipline, I am aiming for, at the very least, most of the time.
So, What did I learn?
How did I make change EASYer on myself 😊 (or not ☹)
In this chapter, you heard from Investment Portfolio Manager (a.k.a. Balanced Lifestyle Manager) Dave. But I would be remiss If I did not mention one of the greatest investment managers out there. His name is Warren Buffet. What would Warren Buffet have to share with us in regards to making managing our balanced life portfolios EASYER on ourselves? Well, if he ever reads this book, I certainly welcome his input, but in the interim, I am going to speculate.
Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Warren Buffet he is a VALUE investor, so I am confident that he would remind us to not forget about OUR Values when choosing where to spend our time both within and between our Life Quadrants. Not just where to spend it, but also with whom to spend it with.
Warren Buffet is also a big proponent of holding on to your investments for the long term. Earlier on we learned about the principle that “You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with”. Well if that is the case, and like Warren Buffet, you are a proponent for the longer-term approach, then you will really want to choose those people wisely. Once again, your Values might come in handy to that end.
Wow! Talk about a Value based approach. Values! The compass that I was referring to earlier on. Following your compass. Maintaining your balance by using your compass. I am not sure how you can make your life journey any EASYer than that. Well, I hope so, because that is what I intend to do in the second half of my life. It took me a while to figure that one out, but better late, then never.
That was all about me. What about YOU?What are you doing to make your journey of change EASYer on YOU? 😊 (or not ☹)
Are you showing up in all of your life quadrants as often as you would like to?
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