To achieve balance, we may need to integrate our personal and professional lives rather than trying to separate the two.
Research shows that 65% of financial professionals feel that maintaining a reasonable balance between work and life is their most common challenge and stressor.1 But what is “balance” and how is it measured? Lindsay Troxell, Director of Knowledge Labs Professional Development at Janus Henderson, explains how we can reduce negative stress and achieve balance by managing our energy.
Although most of us feel that time is our most valuable resource (since it’s the only thing we can’t make more of), the most critical and valuable resource we have as human beings is not time but rather our energy. Time management can only take you from being physically absent to being physically present. Energy management, on the other hand, is what allows you to be fully mentally present. If you’re experiencing negative stress that’s keeping you from becoming your best self and living your best life – and research shows that’s probable – the problem is likely that you’ve been mismanaging your energy investments.
We can break energy investments down into four dimensions:
- Physical – The quantity of energy we possess to fuel the body and mind
- Emotional – The quality of energy we give to manage our thoughts and feelings
- Mental – The focus of energy we engage to organize our lives and center our attention
- Spiritual – The force of energy we apply to complete our mission and purpose
Striving for Balance
Perfect balance – an equal distribution of ourselves to all our responsibilities all the time – is unattainable. I spoke with Jack Groppel, the co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, about this idea and asked him, “If perfect life balance isn’t attainable, what is?”
His answer was illuminating: “Life integration and oscillation.” While we try to compartmentalize our personal and professional lives, our environment typically doesn’t allow us to truly separate the two. By focusing on integrating those two lives – rather than striving to balance them – we may be able to blend them together seamlessly and activate a flow state of being.
But what does that mean, exactly? If we want to change the narrative of negative work/life stress due to poor energy management, we need to understand the following:
- Managing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy is key to becoming your best self. Making regular investments in each of the four dimensions allows you to create new capacity in all areas.
- The oscillation between stress and recovery is critical for growth in all four energy dimensions. Stress is the stimulus for growth, and recovery is where growth occurs. If there is no recovery, there is no growth.
- We are all creatures of habit. Whether you are completely happy or totally miserable, we are where we are because 95% of our actions are nonconscious and automatic. If we want to change our situation, we need to accept where we are currently, know where we want to go, and then develop new, purposeful rituals that will become habits that support our ultimate mission.
Personal change doesn’t just happen: there is no little pill, no magic wand. There’s only purpose, truth, action and energy management.
1 2019 study by Investopedia, Janus Henderson Investors and the Financial Planning Association
Reproduced in part with permission and under license from Investopedia. First published on 5/8/19 at https://www.investopedia.com/advisors-what-is-your-most-valuable-resource-4685771.
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