Parenting and the Art of Balance


Do you have balance in your life?

I’ve been struggling with attaining it for years, and along the way I discovered something interesting — it doesn’t really exist, at least not  in the way I grew up understanding it …

Creating a Strong Foundational Balance

Finding balance between work, family and self can seem near impossible. As parents, it can often feel like we’re on a unicycle, constantly trying not to fall off while juggling work, kids, marriage, goals, etc.

But there’s a different type of balance that can be achieved. It’s called our Foundational Balance, and as the name implies it’s the foundation that we stand on while we’re juggling all aspects of our lives.

Our Foundational Balance is the very thing we need to be exceptional as opposed to acceptable. Exceptional parents, spouses, friends and professionals. And yet many of the parents I speak with feel they are just getting through each day, just getting by — instead of moving in a positive direction.

What is Your Foundational Balance?

Although it’s not  the same for everybody, your foundational balance consists basic things you need to excel in life. Here’s mine:

– Sleep
– Exercise
– Meditation/Spirituality/Religion
– Intimacy with my wife

As far as intimacy goes, I’m talking about more than sex (although I strongly advise you have it often). I define intimacy as quality time together — time to talk, date night, planning the future and helping solve each other’s problems.

Your Foundational Balance might include different things. Just remember, it’s not comprised of the things you must do each day. It is made up of the things that you need in order to function optimally.

You are Like a Car …

Think about the pistons in your car. They pump up and down — with great assistance from the motor oil you put in them. Now if I take the oil out of a car, will the pistons run? Yes. Will they pump? Yes. Will they eventually break down? Yes.

The pistons can accomplish their goal of pumping and getting you somewhere, at least least for a limited amount of time. But they are not going to be working efficiently.

They are not going to be anywhere near optimal.

You are the same. Without having a solid foundational balance — having your oil changed, your tires rotated, having enough gas and receiving timely tune-ups — you are going to run like a clunker!

And remember, you are not alone …

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The Four H’s of Self Destruction: Have You Fallen Into The Trap?

I’m tired. All the time. And I’m ashamed of myself that I have not been able to overcome it. Quite simply, I have not been accomplishing what I’d like to in my life specifically when it comes to my blog and the “bigger” plans I have for it.

People struggle with so much more than I do on a daily basis. I feel like a weakling, a 40-year old dude from NY who can’t get his shit together. I’m doing my best, but it never feels good enough.

I’m dedicated to my kids and my wife. They come first, and that’s how I like it. But somewhere along the way I have lost my balance. Being dedicated to my family should not mean sacrificing all of oneself. But in my mind, in a twisted subconcious way, it seems I have done just that  sacrificed my professional happiness in order to be a better dad and husband.

But nobody asked me to.

I just feel there’s just not enough time in the day to get it all done (or so it appears at first glance). And after working long hours 5-days a week, how can I take more time away from my family?

The result is a crabby, edgy, non-satisfied dad who feels unfulfilled in the career department. Since I have no plans of putting my kids or wife anywhere but in the number one position, I need to find another way to make time for myself. Time where I have enough energy and cognitive process to work on Fulfilling Career Stuff (FCS).

Although the term does sound a bit funny, I think just about any parent can understand where I’m coming from.

So I took a closer look at my situation, how I spend my time.

I realized (for the umpteenth time) that there is a small window of opportunity after the kids go the bed for me to be productive and work on my FCS. About 2 hours before I pass out (only to wake up with keyboard face).

So why do I play Internet poker instead of working on my blog, my idea for a TV show or my book? Why aren’t I working MORE on making Daddy Brain a bigger deal, one that can potentially support my family? This is what I THINK & SAY my goal is, so why aren’t I taking ACTION on it?

When the night rolls around, I WANT A BREAK. But then all day long, I WANT CHANGE. I’m getting stuck in wants, and when that happens I find myself lacking the very things I desire. I’m basically stuck in resistance.

Is part of it self sabotage? Maybe, but it think the problem is more complex than that.

It begins with being exhausted. And when I’m this tired I become captured by the Four H’s of Self Destruction: Hobby becomes Habit becomes Harmful becomes Hated.

Bear with me while I explain because this is a dilemma I think most people struggle with. One that traps us in a particular state of mind that makes us incapeable of accomplishing that which is so important to us.

Hobby
Many of us have hobbies, things that are fun, bring us joy, help us relax and so on. Technically speaking, hobbies are harmless as long as they remain hobbies. But sometimes something happens to these harmless things they change and become…

Habit
Let’s take my Internet poker playing as an example. At one point playing Internet poker was just a hobby. But somewhere along the way it became a coping mechanism. It became something that, as the day wore on, I would feel more and more of a compulsion to do.

Don’t worry, I’ve made money and I’m not broke from it. But it has robbed more hours from my life than I can count. Just an hour or two a night, but the hours add up. Put together, these same hours could have resulted in a book, dozens of blog posts or a spec script for the TV show I’m developing. It could have also been dedicated to some extra sleep which would keep me in a better state of mind (making it easier to avoid the Four H’s of Self Destruction).

Another example: a casual drinker who has two or three beers a week. This turns to a six pack a week. Then multiple beers a night until this casual drinker (hobby) has a drinking problem (habit). It could be any hobby that mercilessly grasps you sex, drugs, TV, reading, puzzles, exercise, naps, crosswords… the list is endless.

Harmful
Now your little hobby has turned into a monster. It negatively affects your life, your relationships, your work whatever. And since it’s no longer a hobby, but a habit, it is very difficult to stop.

Hated
Sometimes we hate the habit, sometimes we hate ourselves for having the habit. Often, people just feel unhappy and unfulfilled and don’t allow themselves to go any further. Let’s face it: turning a hobby into a habit is a great way to hinder ourselves. For many it is a path to self destruction.

In the following weeks, I plan on diving deeper into each of the for H’s. I hope you’ll stick around to read them, and more importantly to share your opinion so we can all become happier, more fulfilled human beings.

A clear indication of whether I’m figuring this out or not will be the amount of blog posts I am able to complete. And the amount of poker I am able to avoid.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
The Four H’s of Self Destruction: When Hobby Becomes Habit