The word balance implies that there are multiple forces and weights pulling and pushing at different and sometimes opposite ends and directions.
And it implies that somewhere, somehow, there is the possibility that those forces can be counterweighted in a way that allows something to achieve a peaceful, stoic central state.
(I’m sure there is some math behind it, too.)
Does this (tortured) metaphor work when it comes to balancing one’s work and family life?
Accidentally Retired takes a look in this guest post.
After having kids and taking on the CEO role for my company all within the same time period, it became clear that there was going to be a push and pull between work and family.
But no matter what I tried, my mental focus continued to drift back to the urgent, pressing, and hard-to-solve problems of running a company.
The longer this went on, the clearer it became that something was going to give.
It was literally family vs. work.
And the loser of this battle was yours truly.
A Wobbly Wheel
Imagine the different aspects of your life as the spokes in a wheel: health, wealth, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or however you divide it.
If any of these are lacking, it makes a lopsided, wobbly wheel, causing you to crash.
But if you keep the parts of your life balanced, your wheel is round, and you can roll easily
— Derek Sivers, How to Live
As a father, husband, and CEO, my wheel was wobbly. It just wasn’t right.
Thankfully, a solution presented itself after a long and drawn-out divestiture process in which my brand was sold to another company.
The new company presented me with a ridiculous legal contract that no one in their right mind would sign.
Realizing this was a sign, I negotiated severance and decided to take a mini-retirement.
Now, two years later, though many things are more in balance, my wheel continues to be lopsided in many ways.
Because the challenge in life is not just family vs. work. The real challenge in life is family vs. productivity vs. health vs. romance vs. friendship vs. money vs. fun
It is you vs. everything. And if you don’t find a way to balance it in a healthy way, something gives.
It always does.
We All Struggle
I know for me, finding balance has been harder than one would anticipate.
Being retired is great, but inevitably I’ve filled up the space where work used to be with more. More work. More commitments. More, more, more.
I now own an affiliate website that has turned into a daily struggle, coach my children’s sports teams, run this website (which brings me the most joy), manage our own DIY investments, AND handle all of the other responsibilities that come as a parent and spouse.
For one person it just all turns out to be too much at times. Finding balance is hard.
I struggle with being a good friend.
I struggle with being a good spouse.
And I struggle to have as much free time and fun as I want to have.
But it’s not just me. My wife for instance is a stay-at-home mom, and she continually struggles to find the balance.
Often she is taking on too much, be it pressure from society, family, and even me. She wants to be a great mom, so she takes on too much and her wheel is wobbly.
How to Find Balance When Finding Balance is Hard
Here, you have two people in a really great financial position, with more time (in theory) than the average person, and yet we are still struggling to find balance. It’s effin hard.
If we are struggling in our very fortunate position, surely there are many others struggling out there too.
But like I said in my last post, the good thing about hardship and struggle is that it helps pave the way for clarity.
For me, this clarity means accepting that I have taken on too much. I need to take a step back mentally and look at where I am running short:
My focus needs to be on building back these portions of the wheel.
- That means putting less mental effort into work activities and more into my wife
- That means putting less mental effort into money and more into having fun.
As you can see this is a constant process.
Once I put effort into plugging the holes, then I’ll need to observe again to make sure that I’ve achieved what I am looking for.
There is no doubt in my mind, that I will have to re-balance again, and again, and again.
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So the only feasible solution to finding balance is to:
Once you observe that your balance is out of whack, and you accept that balance for what it is, you can come up with a plan of action.
But the minute you get close to figuring it all out, you’ll probably drift astray again.
And that is perfectly OK. Finding balance is elusive, but it’s not going to stop me from trying.
So right NOW, I’m going to start to work on course correcting. How about you?