Posts made in November, 2011

Reflections: part deux

I think the best part of birthdays is that they call for a fresh start for a new year.  They also call for reflection on the events of the year that’s passed.  As we get older, we’re supposed to get wiser, so I guess this is one way to do that.  It’s easy to celebrate and let the day pass, but upon looking back, it’s great to take the time and pat yourself on the back for successes and accomplishments, as well as grow and learn from mistakes and failures.

Now at the tender age of 28 (and 4 days), I reflect back on 27 as filled with many ups-and-downs, appreciating each for the impact it’s made on me, big and small.  27 included stifling blows to my business, as well as record growth and rejuvenation.   I changed my first diaper (still only one though) and babysat alone for the first time.  Tried new forms of physical activity including Krav Maga and learned a new level of physical pain.   Surpassed my goal to travel monthly, which was assisted by a light wedding season (nice change of pace).  Debated cremation versus burial and completed my will.  I committed to several themes for the year, including ‘calm’ which I exercised with more ease than ever in the past.  Read more books on business, personal development, and Harry Potter than I care to count.  Was featured in the AJC.  Dated.  Hiked the highest peak of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia in the middle of the night.   Started a new business/networking venture that’s exploded.   Paid my first visit (and likely last) to Mardi Gras.  Was named the ‘Ambassador of the Year’ for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.  Learned how to slow down and ‘stop and smell the roses’.  Started yoga.  Had my hair accidentally died red and remembered how tied we can be to our self-image.  With a heavy heart, said goodbye to my daily dose of Oprah.   Leaped out of my comfort zone to speak to my first several hundred person audience and launch a national partnership.   Learned that adults can still be bullies.  Worked on communication skills in my most challenged relationships.  Paid off my car (early).  Marked 4 years of home-ownership.  Welcomed my second niece.   My absolute disdain for AT&T grew exponentially.   I planned and celebrated my 5 year college reunion and then welcomed a best friend to his new home in Atlanta.  Said goodbye to a terrible roommate and welcomed a wonderful new one.  Finally left the world of Blackberry and got an iphone.

Lots to celebrate and mourn in 27.  Good decisions and bad, but all a part of the experience and the memories.  Farewell 27, hello 28.  New memories to make and experiences to have.

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I’ve spent a lot of energy over the last few years tying to wrap my head (and my life) around the concept of balance.  It’s easy to see it when our peers are clearly off-balance, but oftentimes harder to see the spot on which we stand.  Do you notice yourself or your peers working 15 hour days, spending all your free time with your girlfriend/boyfriend and none with your friends, or maybe even going to the gym 3 times a day?  At the foundation of each of these activities are good intentions.  In-and-of-themselves, there’s no harm in working, dating, or working out.  But like anything, there are tipping points (think of the person who over-eats or over-drinks).  Where are the limits?

I unquestionably believe that the boundaries are different for everyone.  For some, working 8 hours a day is their threshold whereas for others, it can comfortably (and enjoyably) be 12.  But, how does one balance work, social, love, spiritual, and family life? Certainly for some, these pillars will vary.  But, I think we’d be kidding ourselves to think that spending 90% of our waking moments focused on one of these categories will be fulfilling.  Think to the mom who spends all of her time caring for her family and forgets to take time for herself.  Her intentions were spot-on but still resulted in some amount of stress or dissatisfaction.

Let’s look at it this way: there is no black without white, meaning it’s tough to see the good in one situation if not juxtaposed with something else. It’s tough to enjoy your time at the office if you have no ‘me’ time.  It’s tough to enjoy your monetary success if you have no time to do so or no one with whom to enjoy it.

About a year ago, I asked a successful businessman how he achieves balance as he runs a large company, has a family, volunteers, and has an avid social life.  He explained to me that he doesn’t look at it as balance as much as integration.  He continued to say that if something he commits to doesn’t hit on at least two cylinders (social and business, family and social, etc) he doesn’t do it.  By integrating his worlds, he no longer feels off-center.

I continue to check my own life to see how this plays out.  And typically, it doesn’t take much to do a self-assessment because I can tell by my stress levels and happiness.  When I’m feeling calm, satisfied,and generally content, I know things are relatively integrated.  When I’m feeling rushed, uneasy, and stressed, I know something is off.

I went to my first yoga class since college last week.  Not only was it a wonderful experience of both mind and body, but I got to enjoy it with one of my best friends.  It’s taken me about a year to come to a conclusion as to what could be a good physical challenge for me, but also be enjoyable.  For now, at the very least, I’ve found this solution and feel I’m rounding out that side of my circle of balance, which for some time looked like it was drawn by a 3 year-old, a bit lop-sided.

As things change in our lives during our Betwixter years, I can only imagine how the shifts in  balance will occur, but we’re fortunate to have this stage of our lives to build the foundation for those future changes and challenges, hopefully more equipped to better handle them down-the-road.

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