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Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World

Almost everywhere we look we find imbalance: politics, economy, society, values, ethics, and, of course, the environment. What we often overlook though is the imbalance that is much closer to home – the imbalance in our own lives. We lack both balance and stability in our lives, due largely to the demands and stresses of today’s professional world. We are required to work more, often with diminishing resources, both human and financial, and our free time has been largely infiltrated by our work. Many of us either voluntarily or by demand are now connected to work electronically 24/7. We may even feel obliged to do so. Now, more than ever we are working around the clock, and even when we are not working, our minds are on our work. The higher our position and responsibility, the more we are connected to our work.

The effects of this imbalance are extensive – our physical health declines, at times with drastic results, our mental health suffers, our emotional stability is thrown out of synch, our family stability and harmony declines, even our children’s mental and emotional balance can be thrown off and affected by our own imbalance. Our happiness and satisfaction plummets with these high demands that our work requires. And finally, the most ironic fact is that our own productivity at work is one of the first areas to be affected – our professional performance declines as our stress and work demands rise.

Never before have we seen such a prevalence of conditions that affect both our work and our general health, and that of those around us. Absenteeism due to burnout issues is on a worrying rise in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia amongst other highly developed nations. Companies and corporations, and social security systems are paying out millions due to this stress-related absenteeism. In many countries, depression, stress, and burnout syndromes are the number one causes for missing workdays. Several countries are now beginning to implement measures to help avoid this “epidemic”.

Ideally we should all cut down on our work time and responsibilities, and disconnect totally from our jobs the minute we close our office doors. But we do not live in an ideal world. The fact remains that as things stand our socio-economic system and corporate structures require more dedication of time and mental focus than ever before. If we want to work and thrive in today’s professional environment, we may need to perform at a level that demands more of ourselves than is perhaps optimum for our general wellbeing. If, however, we wish to achieve continued performance over the long term, we may have to change how we are balancing our lives. Currently the majority of us are living highly unbalanced lives.

We need to change. We can’t immediately change the corporate structure, we can’t change the demands our economical system puts on us, but we can change how we balance our lives. The most powerful changes begin with ourselves, if we can find the necessary balance and implement it in our lives, then, and only then can we possibly affect the balance on a wider scale. We can improve our health, our productivity, our happiness, and the wellbeing of our families simply by readjusting some fundamental issues.  

There are four key issues we need to address if we wish to find the necessary balance for long-term productivity, health and wellbeing. We need to focus on:  

  • Our personal and professional development
  •  What we eat and drink
  • Our exercise
  • Our rest, recuperation, and enjoyment

I like to look at it like the four legs of a chair; if one leg is broken or missing we can manage to balance ourselves with relative ease, if two legs are gone, it becomes uncomfortable and difficult to balance, and if three legs are missing, then too much effort is put into attempting to stay on the chair, thus leaving us unable to do anything else productively. And obviously when all four legs of the chair are not functioning, we hit rock bottom. We can apply this analogy to any area of our lives.

It’s clear to most that we need to focus on our development as individuals – in fact more time, energy, and money is usually directed here than in any of the other areas. But for us to reach our maximum performance and continue doing so over the long term requires us to address the other areas also. Our food and drink directly affects our general health, our mental health, and our professional performance. Our mathematical ability, our patience, our interpersonal communication, and our energy levels are positively and negatively affected by our nutrition. Whether we exercise or not raises or lowers our productivity at work, and of course exercise benefits our general health. And finally…we all need to rest, and we all need to play. An athlete cannot reach his or her top performance and maintain it without rest and recuperation and without time disconnected from sport. The same applies in every professional area – we need time to rest, time disconnected completely from our work (physically, mentally, and electronically), and we need time to pursue leisure activities, whatever they may be.

There isn’t one solution for everyone – we need to customise solutions that fit our own particular needs, work demands, family structure, and desires, so as to be able to optimise our time and efficiency, and for us to function at our maximum in every area of our lives over the long term.

Not one of us is exempt from this need for balance, and yet most of us balk at the idea of having to do it. We see it as impossible – we are rigid in the belief that we have no other options that will take into account our professional demands. But there are solutions for each and every one of us, though we do need to open our minds and our schedules to allow us to change. Change begins within first and foremost in our attitude – open that and you too can find your balance even in such an unbalanced world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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