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I often hear this word bandied about and wonder what it means. Apparently, (this from a life coach I met recently) it means “your work, personal and spiritual lives are organized in a fashion which allows for maximum efficiency and enjoyment with minimal expenditure of energy, resulting in no stress.” I didn’t know one’s spiritual life could be organized but, that’s what she said. She also said I would know whether I was “balanced” by answering the following questions.

1. Do you wake up in the morning full of energy, eager to tackle the day’s challenges?
2. Do you enjoy your work?
3. Do you sleep 8 hours a night?
4. Do you work out at least 4 times a week for 30 minutes?
5. Do you eat a healthy diet?
6. Do you regularly attend at your treating doctors’ appointments?
7. Is your weight within 5 pounds of the optimal, given your age, gender and body type?
8. Do you regularly engage in recreational activities which give you pleasure?
9. Are you happy with your physical appearance?
10. Do you have friends?
11. Are your family members healthy, living in harmony and possessed of good values?
12. Are you financially secure?
13. Have you planned for retirement?
14. Do you sense your life is progressing in a positive way, with meaning and purpose?
15. Are you generally optimistic about the future?

She didn’t say how many ‘no’ answers meant “not balanced” so now I’m not sure. I then researched the meaning of “happiness.” I reasoned that although I answered, ‘no,’ to a few of the questions, I could still claim that my day, if not my life, was still worth the morning makeup. Did you know that the U.N. declared May 20 (yes, every single year from now to eternity) to be the official “day of happiness?” Does that mean that if you’re unhappy on May 20th, sanctions will ensue? Perhaps the U.N. should also search for something which more of the world’s population can aspire to – clean water to drink, good roads, and a safe place in which to live and work. Because, every day, the news provides us with another horror story from somewhere in the world or a story about people who want to tear things down rather than build them up. So much for balance!

In what seems to be an insecure, unstable and unbalanced world, maybe we should be seeking effectiveness, instead. Focus on striving for lives where our work and personal lives are allies and where participation in multiple roles like parent, partner, friend and employee/employer enhance our physical and psychological well-being. Even with the busiest of schedules, perhaps the most practical and effective way we can live is by aligning our personal priorities of work, family, health and well-being. Such realignment can bring huge gains in emotional and physical energy, not to mention greater clarity and focus at work.

Each week, I try to examine the categories of my life: lawyer, employer, citizen, mother to rescued animals, homemaker, and most important, human being. I try to define what specific actions and results will help me feel successful and fulfilled in all of these roles. I try to take control of all aspects of my life – to the extent possible – so that I minimize stress and achieve success, on my terms, for myself and my clients.

In the wake of the many tragedies in the world over the last days, months and years, I have decided to abandon my quest for balance. Instead, I am seeking a life where I feel passionate about my work, my relationships, my hobbies and making a difference in a troubled world. By focusing on a “state of service,” which our world certainly needs and deserves, I truly believe we will feel more fulfilled in the process. For me, that is balance.