Balance is crap. The concept of balance is not only a discordant metaphor for how to spend your time but an ineffective strategy. Striving for "work-life" balance is an impractical standard; it's one that won't bring you the results you truly seek -- and it should be avoided.
By definition balance means "equal force in opposite directions," which implies that to be balanced our time and energy should be spread in a perfect distribution across various tasks we have in our life. But if we sleep eight hours a day and work eight hours a day, then to truly be balanced we could only do one other activity and it would have to be eight hours every day. That concept is absurd and outdated.
Success in business, at home, and in life doesn't come from applying our resources proportionately throughout different areas. In fact, it's just the opposite. Success usually is the result of focusing our talents, money, time or energy in one priority direction for a shorter period of time to create a desired result -- called a season. In one word, a season is best defined as imbalance.
- For example, if you were thousands of dollars in debt you wouldn't get out very fast if you were only paying off an extra $10 per month more than your minimum balance. You'd have to find a way to make sacrifices in other areas of your life to throw more and more money at your debt problem until it was gone.
- If you were 200 pounds overweight you likely wouldn't get the transformation you wanted by working out 10 minutes per week. Instead, you'd have to arrange your life for some time so you could work out more like 10 hours per week to get you to an acceptable level of heath.
- An entrepreneur would take forever to get her business off the ground by working just 30 minutes per week on the side. If it were going to be significant it would take much more time than that to get it started.
Think about a farmer... if they worked a balanced schedule throughout the year including the harvest season they would have much less production. When the harvest season comes they must work harder and longer because they only have a short window of time to maximize their reap! So, during harvest season farmers work up to 18 hours a day.
The beauty about imbalancing your resources in one direction for a short period of time is that once you create your desired result it is usually much easier to maintain that level of performance post-season. It becomes comfortable to consistently stay in the new range and usually requires much less effort and/or little thinking at all. A panoramic view of a season and post season leads us to the strategy of "working double-time part time for full-time free time."
- Once you get out of debt and you have no monthly payments its much easier to get rich and stay out of debt.
- After you get into shape it's pretty easy to stay in shape working out just a couple times a week and having only a semi-strict diet.
- A successful business should eventually become a revenue-producing asset for the owner with only fractional time spent managing it once all of the necessary systems and people to make it run have been implemented.
All of these are examples of the payoff resulting from embracing a "double-time part time for full-time free time" strategy. The metaphor of a season not only makes more practical sense when applied to every area of daily life but is also the actual practice of "well-balanced" high performing people.
Here are three interconnected elements for advancing your mindset from "Time Management" to "Season Management":
- Redefine Balance: Balance isn't equal time spread across equal activities; it's appropriate time spread across critical priorities. Don't worry about the quantity of time you are spending on something but instead focus on quality of time. In other words, don't measure success by the amount of time you're spending on something -- measure success simply by the results you're achieving.
- Imbalance Seasonally: Decide what your top 1-2 priorities are for right now and throw yourself fully in those directions for a short period of time. Once your focus has allowed you to achieve the desired result then select new priorities (perhaps in a different area of life) to zone in on.
- Say No: One of the natural by-products of the season mindset is that your intense short-term focus on a few items will cause you to have to turn other opportunities down. It's hard to do, but being able to say no to things you shouldn't be doing is one of the most defining characteristics of what separates top performers from average performers. You'll have to learn how to say no and you'll have to learn to be okay ignoring the small stuff temporarily while you focus on the big stuff.
"Balance" is more often an excuse for justifying underperformance than it is a valid explanation for why we're not achieving the results we want in the different areas of our life. Balance is not a benchmark you should be measuring yourself by, and it's not a standard that will bring you a life you love.
Embrace the season. Embrace the focused imbalance. Embrace working double-time part time and you shall soon embrace the full-time free time.
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