This week’s episode takes a totally different format as it’s a discussion rather than an interview.
I recorded this episode with our spiritual guru, Damien Price, for another podcast called The Universal Man, a Not-For-Profit organisation dedicated to helping men operating at their best in the modern world.
You can connect with Damien on LinkedIn.
He’s also been on the podcast before; check out episode 31.
Key Quotes from discussion with Damien Price
What is balance?
- When we are out of balance, there's a sense that you're just going around, you're spinning, you're on a treadmill. You feel a sense that you've got no particular power, and you’re just rushing, rushing, rushing, go, go, go. You’re out of balance.
Aligning balance to your life vision and life chapters
- We've got to look at the particular context of where we are in life; it's our vision, it's where we are at this point in time. What chapter of our lives we’re in.
- There is a famous story where a university professor gets out a large jar. He puts in three or four relatively large rocks and says to the class, “Is the jar full?” And the class says, “Yes.” Then from under the bench, he pulls out a container of fairly large pebbles. He pours that in, shakes it up, pours more in, and again, “Is it full?” They all say, “Yes.” Then he goes under the counter, pulls out a container of very fine sand, pours it in, shakes it, pours more in. “Is it full?” And they're all very, very quiet. Then finally, he goes under the bench and pulls out a pitcher of water, pours that in and it fills the gaps.
- Therefore, balance is about the different stages of your life ie. the chapter of your life. What are your particular rocks and the pebbles at that point?
The role of core values
- You don't want to be so busy in life, that it's impossible to have any flexibility.
- So balance comes when you become aware of the particular chapter you’re in, and then you work out your rocks, your core values, your core tasks, who you want to be, or what you want to do. You’re deliberate, and you name them all and you plan around them.
Building your life scoreboard and defining achievable success
- A life scoreboard has a list of all the most important things to you in life. This might be a partner, your family, your wider family, mates, your career, any volunteering contribution to the greater good, health, fitness, finances, hobbies, travel, whatever's most important to you.
- Give yourself a bit of a score on each and every one of those, to tell you how you're currently going in each of them. And that gives you a sense of whether you’re spending your time right, given what's most important to you right now.
- When you are clear in your planning and you know your achievable outcomes, you deliberately plan them, and they get energy. All of a sudden, you're getting up at 5am for that run or for the gym session or for the work, you've got into a pattern of it, you've got a discipline wrapped around it. You are ticking off a rock within your life. You've got a particular sense of balance then.
Beating guilt of not doing certain things
- If you're in one place and feeling like you need to be somewhere else, that's when the guilt comes in.
- If you have a partner, it has to be negotiated and agreed with them. You say, “I'm going to go away for a few days. I know it's a bit of an extra pressure on you. Why don't you do this? Is that okay?” And when they go away, make sure that there's that same discussion. What it means is that when you're away, you're free to be present.
- It’s the same with work as well. There's absolutely nothing wrong with saying to your boss you need to be at an event or that you’re picking your kids up from swimming twice a week at 4pm. But then you say what you’re going to do in exchange.
- Bill Gates said, “People vastly overestimate what they can do in one year, and hugely underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Let alone a week. Sometimes you get to the end of the week and you feel like you've done nothing. You need to cut yourselves some slack. And one thing that I do, is on a Friday afternoon, I sit down and I say to myself, “What are all the things that I have done this week?”
- You may have periods when you'll be lacking a tiny bit of balance, like a business trip. But in the bigger picture, you can claim that back.
Creating your rhythm and optimising time
- Either on a Sunday afternoon or a Monday morning, spend a bit of time, either on your own or with your partner, to plan the week ahead.
- Rituals and traditions over a year are vital: my wife and I go to this local café every Saturday morning. We know we get that moment every week to reconnect with the family.
- Make a list of all the activities in your life that you have to do every day. Go to work, your commute to work, pick up/drop off kids, etc. And then list all the things you want to do on top of those, such as going to the gym, doing a hobby, whatever. Then write how many hours per week you have to (or want to) do them. Every single time I've done that with someone, the number of hours in a week that they want to spend on things is far more than the numbers of hours in a week. Which means their unconscious criteria for balance is impossible to achieve.
Simplifying life and buying back time
- Look at the number of rocks and pebbles you have got. A little process of simplification doesn't have to be a lot. But the art of saying no is so important in being able to achieve your life vision and your career goals.
- You cannot do it all. You have to make some hard decisions. Instead of doing that thing every week or month, go back to doing it once a quarter or year. Ritualize it; make it a tradition.
- We also create rocks over stuff which actually isn't. Step back and ask, “Do I really, really have to do that thing?”
- You might be sitting there thinking, “I just wish there were more hours in the day.” How about getting rid of social media? It's costing people hours and hours a day. How many hours were you on Facebook or Instagram today? Yet you’re so busy. Same with TV.
- Sleep is important, and you've got to have recovery. But if you go to sleep a little bit earlier, you can have very early mornings and therefore you've bought yourself time to work when everyone is asleep.