If you find yourself struggling to maintain balance, throw that idea out of the window and begin living whole.
I came home from work with a mild pain in my left arm and a dull ache in my chest. As the discomfort grew, the theater of my mind began an award-winning performance.
Before I knew it, I was lying on the bed as fear shot through my entire body. I was certain that I was dying of a heart attack at thirty-two years old. Fear dominated my thoughts. Why had I wasted my life with so many things that now seemed insignificant? All I could think about were my three sons and my beautiful wife, and I began questioning why I had squandered precious time with them in exchange for achievement and ambition.
At that moment, prayer didn’t calm my anxiety. I felt helpless. I was quickly rushed to the ER where test upon test was performed to diagnose the problem.
Every test came back negative. Nothing. I was completely healthy. Surely the doctor must have gotten it wrong. I couldn’t possibly be okay.
Yet, as much as I longed for certainty, I couldn’t have it. No test, no proof existed to convince me that I was fine.
I soon realized that my condition wasn’t medical at all; it was a side effect of misplaced priorities.
You see, my professional life and my physical health were perfect on paper, but emotionally and spiritually, I was a wreck.
I’ve since learned that professional success cannot trump personal discontentment, and personal success cannot thrive in the midst of professional dissatisfaction.
Your Whole Life
Just as a whole cake cannot be missing a slice, our whole life cannot exist in pieces. Our life cannot be fully lived when it is fragmented.
For the longest time, I segregated my life in this way. There was my family, my career, my health, my spirituality, and my relationships. Life was a giant juggling act. And some of those balls were more difficult to juggle than others.
What I soon realized is that when certain areas or pieces of my life became too tiresome or too difficult, I focused on the areas that I was good at, namely my profession and my physical health.
I became consumed with being successful at work, and I was an avid triathlete, training my body to endure and persist.
I thought that if I could outwork, outperform, outproduce everyone else, it would solve the strain on my marriage, which it would somehow help me be a better father to my sons. Those were lies, robbing me of the very life I longed to live.
Align Your Life Correctly
I’ve since learned that a whole life must exist within a certain designed context, a framework if you will.
We are whole beings and to live fully, we must become whole. If we try to alter that context, it simply will not work.
One of the best practices that I have developed is a clear understanding of my priorities. When we align our life correctly, each of the priorities begins to fuel the priority directly beneath it. It’s like channeling energy through your actions, a domino effect of abundance.
For me, spirituality (in which I would include personal development) has to be the first priority. I begin every day with reading, journaling, and prayer as a way to clear my mind, get my bearings, and cultivate healthy thoughts.
It energizes me and acts as a moral compass, setting my course straight for the day.
Second is my relationship with my wife. She is my next priority. When things weren’t good between us, I was trying to love her simply by providing for her. What I had to learn is that I needed to be with her. Every beauty wants to know that she has someone fighting for her.
It’s my job to show my wife that she is worth fighting for.
Third are my kids. Being a good father is the most challenging thing I have ever done. Note, I said being a good father. Being a father requires procreation, whereas being a good father requires selflessness, patience, and discipline. Those aren’t easy to cultivate, but they’re essential.
Loving my kids well isn’t a popularity contest. It’s a daily act of surrender.
Fourth is my career. It is the provision for my family and the professional expression of my gifts and talents. This is one of the most dangerous priorities for me to understand, and it is probably the most threatening to living a whole life. It can sneak its way up the ladder if we’re not careful.
Our career must be fueled by success within ourselves and our family.
Finally, our physical health. For the longest time, chicken wings and beer threatened to derail my physical prowess. I had terrible indigestion, and my body wasn’t functioning as it should. I was keeping my weight down by working out extensively, but I wasn’t healthy.
We are a byproduct of what goes in.
When we keep these priorities in check, personal and professional success will abound because they are working in unison. For years, I tried to cram the round peg in the square hole and do life on my terms. What I found is that the different areas of my life were fighting with one another.
It’s when I began to understand the greater context and abide by its prompting that I began to understand how to live wholly.
If you find yourself struggling to maintain balance, throw that idea out of the window and begin living whole. You’re not a clown; you weren’t created to juggle. You were created for abundance.
Photo: Flickr/ Vasile Hurghis