“Balance is not about spending equal amounts of time and effort in all areas of your life. It is about spending the right amounts of time and effort in each area. And that is a moving target.”
-Gerry Seymour{readmorelink}Read the whole article{/readmorelink}

What is balance?

When we think about being successful, we all have different pictures. Most of us simplify success to a single concept. Maybe it’s being debt-free.Maybe it’s having lots of friends. Maybe it’s having enough time to do what we please. Or maybe it’s having enough money to afford nice vacations or material possessions. I don’t disagree with any of these, but I disagree with all of them. No one of these, alone, can fully define success, because all are out of balance. What good is time to spend as you wish, if you have not enough money to do what it is you wish? What good, the money, if you have not the time? And what good is either, if you have not the friends to share the time with – friends who also have time and money to enjoy life.

Are you balanced?

Some will argue that money does not belong in this definition, but I believe it must be a part of the balance. Those who say “money cannot buy happiness” are correct. Lack of money, however, can bring no end of strife and discomfort. I’m not suggesting we must all be wealthy to enjoy life, but we cannot fully enjoy life if we want for basic necessities. And having some amount of money to spend on what we and our loved ones enjoy can make life so much fuller and more richly satisfying. If you doubt this, simply think of the joy you’ve experienced at holidays, vacations, and parties. These occasions generally involve some measure of money beyond what is required for basic necessities (gifts, travel, or food for friends).

So, I say that if you do not yet have sufficient money to save for emergencies AND enjoy the pleasures of life you would spend with your friends and family, you cannot yet find balance.

But what of time? Who among us does not know at least one professional who earns a nice sum for his services, but who rarely sees his or her family? Is this person truly successful? This person is seriously out of balance, and (in my opinion) mis-spending their life. They are seeking the material, and leaving out the true joys of life. In the end, it is these joys which we should be striving for – money is but a facilitator, and useful mostly for its ability to buy back time and experiences for those people and activities we love.

I know precious few people who have both enough time to truly experience their lives, and enough money to enjoy the experience without reservation. Most people are badly out of balance, and would find life much more rewarding if they put forth the effort to get into balance.

Getting into balance

So, how does one get into balance? This depends on which way they are out of balance. For some, who have  accumulated a significant amount of money and possessions, geting into balance may be as simple as deciding that what they have is sufficient. They can then change their approach to life to reclaim the time they need to enjoy the money and possessions with the people they love.

For others – those whose life is out of balance because of lack of money – they must seek a way to gain that money. This, of course, is easier said than done. If it were easy, we would all already have more  than sufficient funds. To earn this half of the balance, we must be willing to do today what others will not, so that we can enjoy tomorrow what others cannot.

Getting out of balance to get into balance

Here is the sticky part: for those whose life lacks financial balance, they may have to create a temporary imbalance. They have so long been out of  balance that they must put forth extra time and effort for a short time to reach a point where they can begin to balance their life again. This is the position most people find themselves in at the time they begin to reach for true success.

How to begin? Find a mentor – someone who has the ability to help you find the success you seek. Find someone who understands true balance, and who is ahead of you on that path. Do what you must to get their advice, then follow that advice completely. Remember that your current mindset is what got you where you are today. You need to borrow someone else’s mindset for a time, while you adjust your  own.

And if you do not know someone like this? I suggest you go looking. Start by reading the right kinds of books, books that successful people read. Start with those on the reading list – these books have a commonality of mindset and will help you adjust your mind toward success.

Once you begin to improve yourself through reading, you should be better equipped to find a mentor. Look for people who follow the ideas put forth in these books, or who follow the principles of other successful people in history. Make the effort to get around those people whenever possible. Attend meetings with them, travel with them, buy them dinner, if necessary. Soon enough, you’ll find the right person to be your next mentor.