Monday, August 31, 2009

The truth about balance in life

Guest blog post by Mohd Firdaus Bin Mohd Johari:

It was a normal morning, stuck in a traffic jam. Rude drivers cutting through traffic and I let them pass. A friend of mine who was carpooling to work with me asked, "Why do you let that happen?" I replied, "Are we in a hurry? We always leave for work at this time and we reach the office with time to spare." "But you cannot let people walk over you," he answered.

"I'm not." And I explained further. The Taipei 101 skyscraper was built to withstand earthquakes and storms. How? By being flexible where it can afford to, and being tough and stern where is must be. It also applies to our lives. In the case of my argument with my car pooling friend, I know I can afford to let some cars go by, because I have spare time to reach the office. But if it was a matter of life and death, then I wouldn't react in the same way. In a conflict you must know when to compromise and when to stand your ground. Sounds obvious right?

A lot of people talk about 'balance' as far as how they navigate conflict but it is these same people are the ones not being able to uphold this balance. More often than not, they themselves are the ones who get mistreated in conflicts. There is no perfect 'balance', it is not practical.

The 'balance' can be attempted, which ultimately brings us to an acceptable range. However, people fail to do this for three reasons:
• Lack of objective
• Lack of defining their thresholds
• Lack of self-awareness

When you do not know what you want in life, then you will not know what you need to achieve it. If you do not know that, you will not know which aspects of your life that you should prioritize and what you cannot compromise on. You would know your boundaries. All this wouldn't be a problem if you are honest and sincere with yourself, having a better understanding of who you are and what you want to be.

How do you balance your life?

Mohd Firdaus Bin Mohd Johari is from Malaysia, hosts the Beyond Uni blog and a member of the LiaV community.


Michael K said...

Ah, "balance" - it's a simple, yet so complicated word. As I started to read your posting, the first thing that came to mind is my time spent in congestion, rude drivers, and well, I live in NJ in the NYC Metro area, so frankly many people that should not be allowed on the road for many reasons.

The book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt puts into perspective the influence and analogy of "traffic" in our lives.

Your point of picking the right battles to fight is a good one.

The old Serenity Prayer is something I cycle through regularly in (paraphrase) "...accepting the things I cannot change, the courage to change and impact what I can or should, and (here's the key) the wisdom to know the difference..."


Unknown said...

Inspiring prayer at the end of your comment. May I twit it?

Suman said...

There are people who accept life as a roller coaster and others who don't like getting dizzy, thank you very much, try to find the balanced way to walk the rope. :)I guess tho most people would love that occasional roller coaster ride and get back to being balanced. As for me, I just like to watch roller coasters on TV, altho' it seems to mean compromising on excitement and perhaps personality and in some cases the freedom and the need to be imbalanced.

I think watching from the balanced people I know, they do it by anticipating and mitigating surprises and top that with curbing or neutralizing their reactions to it.

The idea in the article seems to be about balancing time, one's behavior and reactions to conflicts, and achieving. As some say, its not what you achieve but how you play that satisfies you :)

As for the traffic, definitely a nice to have and expect for health reasons.

Suman said...

Also, if you think like me that's its inefficient to commute and if you have the luxury to live closer to everywhere you want to go, there are still places like that!

Howard Richman said...

Good allegory to life in general. Balance is about knowing your boundaries, your priorities and adhering to basic principles. It's about how you apply these things to both the expected and the unexpected events at work, and in life. We all get out of balance at times - the real question is how we manage that to not let it become our status quo.

Anonymous said...

Your comment regarding, "Lack of defining their thresholds " is so true.

I think most of us have been in situations where we simply over-schedule ourselves to the point of exhaustion. We somehow believe there is more time in a day/week than what is actually there. We grossly underestimate the value of time.

I'm learning this the hard way. I recently entered my graduate program at half time status. While I was warned about the course load, I made the decision to do it anyway. I was looking back at the amount of courses I took for my Bachelors degree, and thought if I can do that many then, I'll be fine with this. I didn't account for the extra volume of time and effort a Master's requires. Working full-time in conjunction with this also has taken its toll.

So, I'm getting to my destination however not enjoying the journey like I would have hoped to.

Time is quantifiable, we need to be realistic of this constraint.


Tim Engel said...

I agree - pick your battles wisely. You don't have to fight every one that comes your way!

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