Lesson 52: Balance in all things

Published 2:44 pm Monday, December 14, 2009

The cost of success will be too high if you choose not to lead a balanced life.

Linda Stryker

Despite what you may have heard, you cant have it all.

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Stories of great success are often accompanied by terrible tragedy. Thats what happens when something becomes so important that everything else takes a back seat.

In order to become very wealthy, a person usually has to devote all of his effort and energy to making that dream come true. Personal and family relationships often suffer as a result. The same is true with celebrities: the divorce rate among entertainers is extremely high.

The late Paul Newman was an exception to the rule. At his death, he had been married to the same woman, actress Joanne Woodward, for nearly 50 years. Although in great demand, Newman made a conscious decision to limit his acting schedule. That decision allowed him to pursue an interest in auto racing and start a food company, Newmans Own, which donated all of its profits to charity well in excess of $200 million over the years. In addition, he was active in liberal political causes and campaigns. He did all this while maintaining an extremely successful acting and directing career as well as a healthy home life.

The rule of balance holds true in nearly every facet of life. A balanced diet is preferable to one that concentrates on a single food group. One glass of wine with dinner is good for you, but too much alcohol consumption results in all kinds of serious problems. Too much time in front of a television can rot your brain. Spend too much time at work, and your home life will suffer; dont spend enough, and youre likely to lose your job.

Life is a series of choices. Every time you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else. In fact, every time you say yes to something, youre saying no to a lot of things. When you accept a job offer, youre ruling out any other job possibility at least for now. If you make the decision to be a full-time stay-at-home parent, any career plans are put on hold until you change your mind. When you say yes to a marriage proposal, you say no to every other potential spouse.

And heres something else you should know. People who live unbalanced lives are not very interesting. Balance is almost always in your best interest; keep that in mind every time you say yes.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.~ Advice for Young Adults by Andy Millard