HOW MANY IS TOO MANY?

How many activities are you trying to balance every day in your life?

I once listed what I think are the most important ones we need to tend to or work on every day. Here they are:

Personal—health, grooming, education, just taking good care of ourselves.

Family—same here—take care of their health, education, and their other needs that they need you for. These will differ depending on each person—spouse, children, parents, even friends.

Career or other Main Interest—this is self-explanatory, except if you’re retired. Then you should think about doing something fulfilling with your time, not just fritter it away. Travel, volunteering, part-time work, engrossing hobbies can all be considered.

Financial—tend to your finances every day, and you’ll be in good shape financially!

Spiritual needs—again, self-explanatory.

These are not in any particular order, except the first one should be top priority because if you aren’t at your best, whatever that can be, then the rest is much harder to do. After that, they are, I believe, all of equal importance. All are connected. If your career is going well, you’ll be a happier person for your family to live with. If your finances are a mess, it impacts everything else. If your family doesn’t receive enough of your time, everyone, including you, losses. And if you don’t have a strong moral code, have beliefs that sustain you, then you will run into trouble when the going gets rough, and it will. We all know, it will.

When you break it down to these five important aspects of everyone’s life, it’s easier to see what needs to be done each and every day. Some days you’ll need to spend more time on one thing than another. And other days, it will reverse. But it wouldn’t hurt to spend a few minutes at the beginning of your day to consider each one and decide the most important thing you can do that day to tend to those needs. And at the end of the day, do a mental recap, or write in your journal what you accomplished. Then you can nod your head and say you had a good day, or you can decide how you can make tomorrow even better.

OBSESSED OR BALANCED?

There are currently at least two ideas about living a good life by accomplishing all your goals.

Probably the most common is aiming for a “balanced life.” With this plan, you set out your goals and you work on each one, or most of them, every day. Like the steady drip of water, you wear away all obstacles and achieve all your goals, as long as you stick to them long enough.

Another, maybe newer, idea is to alternate your obsessions—pick one to concentrate on for several weeks or months at a time, then go on to something else. For example, writers might write as much and quickly as we can on a novel to get the first draft done, cutting way down or eliminating marketing, editing other work, and certain things in private life (your pick) to get that draft done. Then we might obsess about editing that book. Then marketing it.

Which is more appealing to you? I suggest you try both, if you haven’t so far. I’ve been doing the balanced life idea for many years now. How’s it working out for me? I’m not so sure. I feel I’ve accomplished a lot, but I’m wondering if I’d been more obsessive about certain projects I might not have done them better and even quicker. And had more enjoyment, as well.

It’s like when you move into a new house. Generally, your focus in on getting everything set up as fast as you can. And then, in six months to a year, it’s pretty much done. But you could stretch it out over several years if you also tried to write a new novel and edit an old one plus do some marketing every day. Or if you decided to start a new business, train for a marathon, and take a college course or two.

My final thought is that the best of all worlds is to combine these ideas. Use a period of obsession to get something that is vitally important to you done. Then take some down time to catch up with the rest of the people and things in your life. During that downtime, have a more varied schedule. But I do need to try out the obsessive idea because I’ve rarely, if ever, done it. Unless we moved into a new house or I decided to only edit a whole novel as fast as I could. Those are the only two things I can think of that I ever did obsessively. The rest of the time I was a drip.

Slow and steady or fast and furious, that is the question. Here are a couple of links with more information about both ways to live your life:

Balanced: At MOM MD a pretty complete overview here: http://www.mommd.com/canyouhaveitall.shtml

Obsessed: Scott H. Young’s idea at http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2011/07/13/obsession/

Now I’m off to obsess about something or other.