By Enoch Li
It is a perpetual question – how do we maintain balance in life? And so many of us search and look and read multiple self help books or blogs, and yet to no avail.
So here’s a new way of looking at “balance”.
Instead of the typical 50-50 work-life balance we always talk about, the Balance Model under cognitive psychology theories has a different interpretation to what is a balanced, healthy, happy life.
The Balance Model is divided into 4 quadrants:
-on the X axis (horizontal), visualize “Self” and “Social” as opposing forces
-on the Y axis (vertical), visualize “Achievements” and “Fantasy” as opposing forces
The quadrants are as follows:
• Self – represents anything that relates to the individual and the individual alone, for example, health, diet, exercise, me-time, interests, sleep, hobbies…
• Social – represents anything to do with other people, such as dinner with friends, social clubs, events, seminars, romantic relationships…
• Achievements – represents anything that involves an increase in knowledge or the individual considers a goal or achievement, for instance, career promotions, language skills to help equip the individual for a job, examinations and professional qualifications…
• Fantasy – represents anything that has to do with dreams, daydreams, wishes, something that does not necessarily have to be attainable…
The idea is that we invest our time in each of the quadrants. Theoretically, 25% in each quadrant is the “balance”, yet this does not necessarily have to be the case.
The first step is to do a check on yourself – how much of your time are you spending on each quadrant?
Roughly, what percentage of your time on activities pertaining to each quadrant and make a note on the axis; the more the time, the further away from the axis should the point marked be.
It is important to also write down what you are doing in each related quadrant, so you can see what more or less of which activity is needed.
Then join the dots and you will see a diamond shape, usually skewed towards a particular aspect in your life.
After that, the second question to ask is: is this the division that I’m happy with?
For instance, I found that I was spending 90% of my time and energy on “Achievements”, which meant that obviously all the other aspects suffer, and most profoundly my health did.
I realized that it was important to redistribute some time from “Achievements” to other areas – perhaps more exercise so health improves, or read a book for some me-time, or go out to more dinners with friends, instead of focusing too much on my job and career promotions.
In other cases, if you spend too much time on your own, i.e. “Self” of “Fantasy”, then perhaps you need to think of ways to improve your “Achievements” – maybe find a more challenging job?
Once you decide that some redistribution is needed, the third step is to decide what your ideal division is amongst the 4 aspects and work towards that ideal distribution, bearing in mind that things could change and not reaching that division does not mean you have failed.
We just need to keep making small adjustments in our life and habits.
The Balance Model does not aim to tell you what to do; rather it gives you a snapshot of what your life looks like at the particular point in time. Once identified, only then can you start making plans to make changes in your life and find the balance you seek.
However, if you find that however, you are happy with spending all your time in one area – which is unlikely to be the case – then by all means stick with it.
What it all boils down to is that YOU decide for YOURSELF, your allocation to each quadrant.
In addition, the “balance” can change and be adapted over time depending on your priorities during different stages of your life. So constant revision is needed.
Everyone is different; there is no right or wrong balance.
So give this a try, and let me know how it works.
Enoch Li was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. After completing her education in Law and Political Sciences 7 years ago, she embarked on a career as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. She has lived in different countries including the Netherlands, Japan, France, and the UK, and now resides in Beijing.
Enoch was forced to take time off work due to severe depression, migraines and Meniere’s disease. She now spends her time in regaining her health, and writing about her experience (http://nochnoch.com) battling with the illness – from treatment methods to heightened self awareness as a result of more time now to reflect and ponder about changes she needs to make in her life.
[Image added by site author/editor Douglas Eby: Balancing Act – By Digitalnative]