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Monday, August 8, 2011

Looking for Balance

Do you ever feel like this elephant? 

With all of the demands on our time and attention, life can feel impossible at times.  And there's no doubt that we do it to ourselves through the choices we make.

I've hatched countless schemes over the last couple decades.  On the short-term end of the spectrum, my vending machine "business" lasted about 2 months.  The mortgage company, on the other hand, lasted almost a decade.  When market conditions and a thousand mile move made the business stagnant, I was happy to move on to a new venture.

That's when I started writing.  I had thought about writing and studied writing for more than 2 years before I even picked up the proverbial pen.  Nobody, not even me, knew if it was just another venture that would flare then phase away or if I would stick with it long enough to make it big.

Four and a half novels later, I feel like I'm here to stay.  Writing is what I think about when I don't have to think about anything.  Shoot, it's what I think about even when I'm supposed to be thinking about something else.  That leads to my current problem -- balance.

I spend a lot of time with my kids.  I go to church religiously (pun intended).  I date Wifey nearly every week.  I manage our vacation rental and I put hours and hours into the yard every week.  But I've come to realize my even though my body is participating in a wide variety of activities, my mind isn't always entirely present.

It sucks to admit it, but I gotta find some balance in my life.
'Balance of Life' created for slashTHREE Exhibition #15
Balance of Life by Wojciech Magierski
You're probably waiting for me to tell you what magic pill I've found to bring my life into balance.  Well, it's not coming.  I'm still working on it. 

I started by calendaring my week.  But I didn't define my roles well enough and with the exception of appointments and obligations, almost everything in my planner related to writing.  So next week I'll write out my roles and be sure to schedule items that help me make progress in all of them.

I managed to run just for the health of it this week.  Even though I've run hundreds of miles over the last couple years, it's all been in training for a race.  Running without a goal turned out to be a good physical boost.

Other than that, I'll continue to get more central in my thoughts and actions.  When I'm writing, I'll give it 100%.  And when not writing, I'll put my attention where it belongs.

So give me a hand here.  What are your thoughts?  I know I'm not the only one off balance.  Give me some ideas of what has helped you find balance in your life...


Pablo said...

Balance? who needs it? it's all relative anyway. think about that for a bit. it's all relative. any creative individual that reaches the pinnacle of their chosen field does not do it with "balance". some things require an all out consumption of time, at least for a period of time. the old adage "moderation in all things" is a half truth, thus making it a lie. if anyone in the creative fields wants to "make it" they must be willing to sacrifice most everything else. the only disclaimer I include is this; if that sacrifice includes God or family, in the long run it will not be worth it. but, with that said, I'm a firm believer that many, many other things can and must be sacrificed in order to attain creative success. If one is not willing do that, then quit now, for mediocrity is a death not worth sacrificing for.

Emily said...

I am not very good with this which is why I am normally stressed. I find that I have to plan out what I want to accomplish for the week. My writing is important so I make goals every week and I report to a group on how well I did. My husband is also helpful in this with his encouragement as well as forcing me to stick to goals and deadlines. I wouldn't accomplish much of anything without him.

Daniel Coleman said...

Pablo - You make some EXCELLENT points. No matter what we choose in life there are sacrifices. I think economists call it "Opportunity Cost", meaning that when we spend time, effort, or money on one thing, we sacrifice the best other alternative for it.

I've made considerable sacrifices for my writing (other hobbies, time with friends, a side job, sleep, gaming, reading, gardening, etc), but I am not willing to sacrifice my family and my church life for any amount of success. I can tell we agree on that point.

That is my current quest: to balance my writing with the other things I value.

Thanks for weighing in!

Daniel Coleman said...

Emily - Yes, measurable goals and support of family and friends are HUGEly important. Sometimes my goal for the week is: I want to write a lot. That doesn't work so well. Thanks!

lizardofoz said...

"opportunity cost" was one of my most favorite things i learned in college (my second time around...i'm now on my third). i suck at balance. i am a bit of an obsessive person, and when my brain starts with an idea, it goes whole hog. it's the main reason i closed my photography business, the opportunity cost was too great, and i did not have the ability to b-a-l-a-n-c-e. i've done pretty well with being in school this time, but i have absolutely no advice on how i accomplish it. how's that for a nice helpful comment?

Daniel Coleman said...

Liz - It was about as helpful as the blog post, so I guess that's fair.

Rachel Brooks said...

Balance is important but is easier said than done. Plus, balance is different for everyone. One person's "balanced" life might look stressed and chatoic to someone else. As long as you're happy, that's what's important.

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