Here is a tricky life skill to learn…you need to learn to balance out the opposites in your life. For example, if you are an introverted homebody, you are not likely to marry someone who is exactly the same. In many cases, your partner is going to be an extrovert and love to be out doing stuff on the regular. While it is true that opposites attract, you do need to have some common ground to operate on. Allow me to elaborate…
In an ideal scenario, you and your partner compliment one another’s strengths and tendencies, but there are times where it is tough to find common ground. If you are not the social butterfly of the equation, you need to find ways to get comfortable being in those situations. Here is an example from my own life, I don’t like going to weddings and I do not dance. So on the rare occasion that my wife and I attend a wedding, I go in support of her desire to do it and of course for those who invited us as well. But when the ceremony is over and the music starts, I want to leave. So we have a deal: I will dance with her for a slow song or two, but other than that she is free to dance without me. I can’t do much other than sway back and forth, so slow songs are it for me. If she wants to tear up the dance floor, have at it babe. I don’t want to keep her from having fun just because this isn’t my thing.
This is a balancing of opposites. I don’t want to be there at all, she does. I compromise and go, with the contingency that she grabs me for a few slow songs but doesn’t harass me about dancing for anything other than that. I can sit at a table by myself, or talking with others while she does her thing. When it comes to fishing, she has gone a couple of times, one floating around in the canoe on the lake and another time that was half canyoneering and half fishing She enjoyed it, caught fish both times, but doesn’t choose to go with me on fishing trips. She is fine at home or out with friends, and would rather do that than fake it on a fishing trip. Perfectly fine, we are different people with different interests, and compromise only goes so far.
Another example of the balancing of opposites is from my life directly, which is navigating my obsessive compulsive issues with general productivity. I have the ability (and curse) to fixate on one thing for a long period of time. This can be sitting and writing for a three hour session, fly-fishing for eight hours straight without a break, or chasing a long term goal like Pro Racquetball or Public Speaking. While this ability serves me well when I use it to my advantage, I also have to be careful that other things in life do not get neglected in the process. When I am fishing for example, I become so immersed in what I doing that I will forget to eat or drink anything for that eight hour block. I will literally get a headache from dehydration and low blood sugar. It takes ten minutes to sit down and resolve this issue by consuming the things I brought with me for this specific purpose, and yet I will not do it without some major prompting. I come by this honestly, as my father is way worse about it than I am. He will go sixteen hours, back to back days like this, and end up getting really sick after a fishing trip, at least when the weather is hot out. And when I am on a fishing trip, I have to remember to call my wife and check in,, as I am in the moment of the trip and sometimes I forget to call her. Sad, but true.
The skill of hyper-focus has served me well over my life, but again, everything has to be in balance for you to have a well-rounded life. When I was a competitive athlete, its all I ever did and thought about. Entrepreneurs function in the same manner, they don’t care about work-life balance. And just like my athlete days, to a large degree they can’t. You cannot casually and sporadically run a business employing a bunch of people. There is no off switch when you the one driving the bus. That life is not for me, I have done it before and I learned my lesson. I want different things. I will settle for the six figure salary and the ability to clock in and out, forgetting all about work over the weekends and holidays versus suffering for years hoping for the eight figure exit. I want to live life, travel, explore things and enjoy the overall ride, not just grind away hoping that eventually I will sell the company and have all kinds of time and money on my hands. Things don’t always work out that way, so I am hesitant to put all my chips in on something with such a low chance of success.
The search for balance has been a life-long quest for me. Currently I think I am doing a better job than ever, as I have trimmed one of the most time-consuming side gigs I had going, which was coaching the ASU Racquetball team. After 15 years of this commitment, I have decided to focus that same amount of time and energy on developing my Public Speaking and Coaching business. While I have a day job that at times keeps me quite busy or has me travel, I do still have a fair amount of time to allocate elsewhere. I am not running around with my head on fire trying to keep up with everything, a sin of the past for sure. Just because I can juggle several things at once doesn’t mean that I should.
One more easy analogy on this topic is balancing fun with work. Use the term “work” loosely in this example, as it can mean school work or a job. If you are college student with classes on Tuesdays and Thursday, it seems that you have five out of seven days a week to do as you wish. But you know that is not true, you have homework to do for the classes you have, and if you’ve clumped everything together into two days, you are not likely going to have time on those two days to do all the work needed to be done. Now comes the hard part; you have to find the balance of enough time for working on the assignments that are due as well as maybe also holding down a job so you have some money in your pocket. Oh, and don’t forget having fun while you are there are school too. Whether it is playing video games for hours on end or going to parties and bars, these activities eat up a fair amount of time as well. Striking a balance there can be tough, but it is good practice for the future. Wait until you add a high pressure job and a spouse and kids into the mix! You’ll need to be a skilled juggler by the time those days come, so get your practice in now!
Everyone has a different view of what balance in life is, and that is a good thing. There are not many blanket rules that apply across the board, so make your own rules and live accordingly. But be sure that you are doing what YOU want to do, not what the world thinks you should be doing. If you don’t want to be married, have kids, and a house with a white picket fence, then don’t do it. I didn’t want some of those things, so I didn’t pursue them. I am married, but no kids was by design. We have freedoms others don’t, but my family surname dies with me. There is a cost for everything, so choose wisely.