Success Starts Early - Balance
Why did the bicycle fall over? It was two-tired!
Let's talk about bikes. As a dad with three kids myself, I've taken a few turns teaching my girls how to ride without training wheels. The funny thing to me is that, while each of them learned in different ways or needed me to try different techniques with them, they all had one thing in common: none of them ever wanted to go fast enough. I guess that's a natural feeling, because the more speed you have the harder you are likely to crash. But as anyone who has tried to keep a bike standing up on two wheels while not moving will tell you, that's just not going to work. Movement helps you stay up! Let's look at the secret behind keeping these leg-powered vehicles upright - balance - and maybe it'll help us learn something about success along the way.
The spokes on a bicycle wheel are a good place to start the conversation. Obviously they all extend from the hub in the center of the wheel to the outer edge where the tire is. What happens if they're different sizes? That's going to create a wobbly ride on a very uneven wheel! So far in our success conversations, we've established the idea that accomplishing all of our goals in one area of life isn't going to get us where we want to be if it comes at the expense of other important areas. For instance, if I practice my baseball swing until I'm ready for the major leagues but I don't exercise and eat right, then I'm still not going to accomplish what I really want. If a person sets out to be the perfect friend with a great social life and strong relationships, but doesn't put any effort into some kind of job or business, the end result will be financial problems and possible homelessness. Friends may not appreciate you as much if you have to live on their couch because you couldn't pay your rent!
It may be helpful to imagine that each spoke is an important area of life that have to reach all the way to the edge, and maybe thinking of these six "F categories" will help: faith, family, fellowship, fitness, financial, and fun. While all of the spokes may be the same size on the bike, that's not to say you should spend identical amounts of time on each. For instance, if I have a job that requires 40 hours per week, then I'm obviously not going to be able to devote exactly the same time on working out, hanging out with my kids, etc. You'll see that there can be overlap, however, as you may be able to fellowship with friends while at a Bible study, or have family time with a hike or other activity that helps keep everyone fit and healthy. The point is to not let any of the important parts of life become neglected, and the amount of attention each will require may vary from time to time.
Back to the analogy of keeping a bike upright, you'll remember we discussed motion. If you are moving forward, it actually allows you to temporarily get unbalanced without crashing. Movement can help you here as well! For instance, it is sometimes necessary to make the choice to push hard at something to accomplish a goal. Maybe you have a big work or school project, and you have to sacrifice the fun event you'd planned or you have to take a break on your regular workouts. If you have taken care of these areas consistently, a temporary period of increased focus on one shouldn't upset your smooth bike ride! Just remember how you define success and keep coming back to what helps you accomplish your goals - don't let the urgent things in life take the place of the important things.
Draw your own wheel and write down what spokes you need to take care of in life, and take a moment to determine each one's importance to you. Faith may be more important than fun, for instance, even though you'll need to ultimately take care of each in some way. Then honestly decide if each area is where you want it to be. Some areas may require more time. And this may be difficult, but some may require less time. Write down some ideas on how you can change how you're spending your time to become better at creating balance.
Dr. Ron Jenson is an author who has devoted his life to coaching others, and his book Achieving Authentic Success is certainly worth reading. Chapter 6 is entitled "Integrate All of Life - How to Have It All" and it covers concepts such as balance, time management, and self-control in much more detail.