“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
Balance has become a popular topic in our culture, particularly “work-life balance” (as if work and life were two separate entities). I myself have written about the importance of having balance in one’s life and have worked with clients who wanted to achieve a more balanced life.
But what, exactly, does a “balanced life” mean? If you work 10 hours a day (including getting ready, commuting, and decompressing), must you then spend 10 hours with your family, 10 hours taking care of yourself, 10 hours deepening your spiritual life, etc.? Well, obviously, that ain’t going to work.
You easily see that balance can’t mean spending an equal amount of time in all areas of your life each day. So let’s say you work 10 hours per day. You sleep for maybe 7 hours. That leaves 7 hours. Should you dole out those 7 hours across all the other parts and activities of your life to achieve balance? Some people try to do this and end up frustrated and tired, so they go back to watching TV.
There is another perspective on balance. I like to think of it as the “seasons” of life. In his book, Take The Stairs, Rory Vaden, author, consultant, and champion speaker describes the “Law of the Harvest”. During harvest time, a farmer may work 18 or more hours per day. Calling in sick, taking a day off, or deciding to postpone the harvest until next week is not an option. Instead of deciding in the heat of the moment, or going for “work-life” balance, the farmer “sets up his life in a way that allows him to prepare for the coming harvest time so as to maximize the reap.” [Vaden] The farmer lives his or her life in seasons – a time to plant, and a time to reap, and a time for rest and rejuvenation.
This is the long-time perspective. Rather than looking for balance day-to-day, he or she sets up his or her life to be in balance over the long run. This taps into the natural rhythm, the ebb and flow of life. Parents know that you don’t treat your children equally. They are individuals – you give each one what he or she needs. Life balance is the same. You must spend time and effort in the appropriate area at the appropriate time. Just as the farmer can’t reap in the spring or plant in the winter, if you pay attention to the seasons of your life, your “focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing.” [Vaden]
Look at all the areas of your life or the roles you have: Family, Finances, Health, Career, Recreation, Relationships, Spirituality. Or you may have another way to categorize them. Consider each one — where are you in this area? What “season” is it? Is it a time to plant or a time to harvest? Then you want to spend the necessary time and effort to advance that area or to reap the results of previous work you’ve done. Being in balance doesn’t mean you have to spend the same amount of time and effort in each area every day. Take the long view. Let the season tell you where you need to focus. That’s how you embrace your Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Productivity™ — improving efficiency and effectiveness — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Vaden, Rory. Take The Stairs: 7 Steps To Achieving True Success. New York: Penquin Group, Inc., 2012.