Striving to achieve balance in our lives is an ongoing process that requires us to make trade-offs and keep priorities in order. It’s never easy for me and the previous 7 weeks at work have been the busiest I faced in a very long time. Things have gone well and in order to balance my time efficiently during this period, I unfortunately had to put writing this blog on hold.
While we all push certain things aside when things get busy, making sure we don’t lose site of what is important can be a challenge. One tool I use to help me is a framework given to me by a friend during a small group I was part of in 2008. He discussed the importance of balancing the 5 F’s: Faith, Family, Friends, Finance, and Fitness.
Since then I have shared this with many and in January 2011 a good friend, Mark from Boston suggested we develop goals for each “F” . We have exchanged e-mails almost every Sunday since then with how we are doing with the goals we set for ourselves. Below is how I have defined each “F” and hope it may be helpful for some of you:
This is first on the list as it is the most important. It is God who has blessed me with and the ability to appreciate all the other F’s. I must thank the Lord for all that I am blessed with and remember it is through Him that all things are possible. It is about prayer, church, and doing my best to live in a way that glorifies him at home, at work, while I run, and in all aspects of my life. In theory it sounds great, in practice it is a continual challenge.
I believe everyone would put their family towards the top of their list, but unfortunately work and other interests can distract us from giving our families the time they deserve. With 4 children I have made it a goal to regularly spend 1:1 time with each child as well as with my wife. It’s about more than having dinner together and about working to continually be aware and available to their needs.
This may seem trivial if we define “friends” according to social media. Personally, friends in this context refer to those who contribute to our lives to help make us stronger spiritually or physically. It’s about staying connected with those who believe in us and who challenge us more than we would on our own. Ultimately these are the people who contribute to our life more than they take away.
This was challenging for Mark and I to initially define since it can have a broad definition. Based on this complexity we divided this “F” into 2 areas; Personal Finances and Career. Both of these should be fairly clear and may differ for each of us. For some, the goal with personal finance may mean trying to live within budget and for others it might be about managing investments. Setting career goals may come easy for some while trying to find one may be very different for others.
The fact that this is last is not to suggest that this is the least important, but rather for me, it comes full circle as it is through running that my faith has become stronger. By starting each day with a run and a prayer, I have a sense of accomplishment and peace that helps me face the challenges that are sure to come. Races are great goals but it is the training, like prayer, that must be done on a regular basis to strengthen our spirit and body.
Focusing on these 5 F’s each day, having someone who holds me accountable, and acknowledging that it is not about achieving “balance” as the goal but rather continually working to make adjustments so as to not lose site of what is important for me.