There are many balances in life we often overlook. When thinking about them directly, they are obvious. But it is very easy to get caught up in your day to day routines that you lose sight of what you set out for in the first place, or you get sidetracked because the society you live in tells you otherwise. Our default setting isn’t to think about them, so we have to consciously make an effort to think about these regularly to get the balances in our lives correct.
Below are a few of the main ones worth thinking about, and I hope this post encourages you to think about them more.
Money vs. Time
It’s obvious thinking about it, but virtually everyone in the world overlooks it. People say “we spend so much time caught up in the action of making money and the constant chase that we forget why we’re doing it in the first place”. Everyone wants a million dollars, but why? How much of a life sacrifice is actually $1M worth? Would you rather make $100,000 doing nothing or work for 5 years very very hard to make $1M, and why? How valuable is time to you, and how do you balance earning money and having time?
Most people work to make money, and if they weren’t making money, they wouldn’t work. The money is then used to fund the necessities, like a house/apartment, as well as the luxuries like a cold beer, a vacation, a car, etc. People save for retirement such that someday when they don’t have to work, they can finally have all the time in the world to do things they’ve always wanted to do, and such that they have money if and when they aren’t able to work. Another way of looking at it is people spend their time to make money, and then spend their money to buy time.
If the goal of having money is to live a more free life (to buy the things you want and go the places you want without worrying about money so much), then why do we spend half (24 hrs in a day, 8 hrs of sleep, 16 conscious hrs/day) of our conscience lives solely trying to make money?
Perhaps your goal is to create a change in the world, and therefore that variable has to be added in (though most people rarely do things that change the world), but you have to balance how much time is worth creating the change, how much money is worth your time (if any), and the sacrifice of time that you could have spent doing other activities.
It’s important to balance the chase, or the drive or motivation or whatever it is, with the time factor. Remember you can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Live while it’s here, and don’t let money dictate everything. Thinking about this balance helps.
Eat Anything Vs. Eating Healthy
Eating healthy makes you feel better, and allows your body and mind to perform better, but the enjoyment you get out of the healthy food may not be as great as if you ate something unhealthy like cheese fries with bacon. While creating good eating habits is obviously important if you want to live a healthy, happy life, it is important to also step back and look at the bigger picture. You have to consider how much enjoyment you’d get out of a piece of cake with your date, or the ice cream offered to you by your mother.
If with every meal as healthy as possible, you’re obviously sacrificing a lot for the health benefit. How do you balance being healthy with being happiest in the moment?
There is a group of who collectively make up the calorie restriction society. They essentially eat very little calories because there are some very positive health benefits to that as a result (see their website and research caloric restriction). While they reap the benefits of looking younger than most people their age, are much healthier in general, and are likely to live a longer life, they are essentially starving themselves, which may not be enjoyable. To the CR society, they balance health over the enjoyment of traditional foods. To most of traditional society, we balance eating traditional calories over the potential benefits of starving ourselves.
In the society or not, it is important each day to balance what you eat. While I want to generally eat as healthy as I possibly can and am constantly learning how to get better, I also will sacrifice my health on certain occasions to enjoy the moment. It is a constant balance worth thinking about.
Gym vs. Another Activity
Going to the gym makes you feel better, often after the fact, and it is proven to be healthy. But the more I’m in the gym biking or doing curls or squats, the more I realize what is really happening. We’re a bunch of organisms on Earth, and some of us go into a room which makes us flex our muscles and increase our heart rate. It’s intriguing to think about. Why do we do this? Because it makes our bodies stronger and our mind function better, and as a result, we live a higher quality of life. But what is the optimal point? Workout 7 days a week for 1 hr, or 3 days a week for 30 minutes each day? Why do we value that time at the gym over another activity? It’s all a balance.
From personal experience, I’d say going to the gym itself isn’t an enjoyable activity (though some people do enjoy it), but the benefits after make it well worth it. It provides a nice break from work mid-day, clears my mind, strengthens my body, and allows me to live a higher quality of life. And, it is a choice.
But obviously going to the gym is sacrificing time doing something else, and it is worth thinking more about how much time you want/need to spend at the gym and how much value you put into it over another activity.
Responsibility vs. Fun
This is a huge one that people generally view differently depending on their age. Do you live everyday to the fullest or pay dues first? “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today”.
Working a high paying job that requires 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a year provides you excess cash, but it also means that year will likely include no fun. If you’re going to die in a year, that wouldn’t make much sense. But if you’re 40 years old and single, perhaps it might. Or if you’re 20 and want to travel or vacation or roadtrip for a year, maybe it is worth it.
Everyday we balance this, whether we know it or not. Is it worth waking up and going to work to sacrifice the day of perhaps a better, more fun activity? Is it worth spending 5 years on a startup with almost no downtime to make millions, or is it better to make less but have more time to have fun?
Every couple months it’s worth taking time away from work, friends, family, and electronics to reflect on your life. Spend some time thinking about these balances and perhaps make small changes. The result could be a much more happy, responsible, fun, healthy, enjoyable life.
Have any thoughts about this post, or have other balances worth mentioning? Comment below.