I may have shaken off my freshman-year funk thanks to Paul McCartney, but it took me until my sophomore year in college to learn my lesson about working too much. During the first quarter (our year held three quarters rather than two semesters) I overloaded, taking one extra class. I hoped that if I could do that every quarter, I could get ahead and graduate early.

Silly me. I couldn’t keep up with the workload. In trying, I exhausted myself; with no reserves I kept getting sick. My grades tanked; I wound up on academic probation.

I went home on break at the end of that quarter feeling defeated. I considered changing schools or dropping out entirely, but my pride kept me from giving up. However, when I returned for the second quarter I changed everything about the way I was approaching school.

  • No more overloading.
  • I would start my nightly homework after dinner, but I would stop at midnight and go to bed, period. Whatever didn’t get done, didn’t get done. If that caused me to flunk out, so be it.
  • I was going to spend more time having fun. That led to me becoming more involved with the campus radio station, where I did the morning show and ended up as station manager.

Here’s the crazy thing I never expected: My grades started going up. It was a slow rise, but quarter over quarter I kept doing better. During my senior year, I did well enough to make the dean’s list.

I wasn’t performing better because I was any smarter. Rather, I had just learned an important lesson about balance and limitations. That is, I have limitations, and I need to respect them by keeping my life in balance. I need to work hard, but I also need to sleep and have fun. Since then, I’ve learned that I also need to eat right and exercise. In my teens and 20s, a sedentary life and a terrible diet seemed to have no effect on me. That’s not so now that I’m in my 40s!

In what ways do you try to keep balance in your life?

When my life gets out of balance, my dog is always the first to let me know. Read how.


9 responses to “Living life in balance”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    In what ways do you try to keep balance in your life?

    I got rid of my credit card. Never got in trouble with them, but I got sick of the cycle of getting into debt, and then have to spend years handing over principle plus interest. I’m trying to live without it now.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I got out of debt except for the house last December, and it is like being freed from slavery.

      1. Lone Primate Avatar
        Lone Primate

        Heh, I got out from under it all except the car loan at the beginning of February. Without ever planning it this way, I suddenly wound up taking on a mortgage in March. So much for putting together some savings. :) But now that I’ve been taking transit to work for a year, I’m considering paying out the balance on the car at the end of the five years and keeping it, since I’m so rarely using it now. Not having that payment will be nice.

        1. Jim Avatar

          I’m working on the savings — or at least I will be after I take care of some things that need done around the house. I’d like to get 3-6 months of living expenses saved. That will be the next level of freedom.

  2. versa kay Avatar

    Long ago, I was in college and I was suffering from sleepdeprivation, and malnutrtion , irritation and anger with out cause. My papa concerned over how it was affecting my mom who was at the receiving end, sternly advised me to, eat well, go to bed and rise from it early and try to do my work sincerely and honestly. This was difficult, but I followed it doggedly and it worked wonders.
    Around the same time I came across this sage advice from Reinhold Niebuhr,” God, grant me the serenity to ajccept the things I can not change, the courage to change the thiings I can, and the wisdom toknow the difference.”
    I havebeen trying to fokkow these words eve since.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’ve leaned heavily on the Serenity Prayer; it is a guidepost. The “wisdom to know the difference” part is often challenging!

  3. Lynn Avatar

    Balance… Weird but when I started working third shift my life became more balanced. I get off work in time to get the boys off to school. I wake up a half hour before they come home from school and I am awake and happy in the evenings instead of grumpy and tired all the time. I tuck them into bed before I go back to work. I only work four days a week (but ten hour shifts) so I don’t get caregiver burn out.
    Also, I feel like the work I do in a group home makes a difference in the world. Like my service to my clients sends out all kinds of good Karma into the world. At work I’m able to do minor things like pay my bills, school work, laundry, and such. I have Fridays off so I can spend an evening with my fiance. It all works out. Between decent time managment, general happiness with my choices, and meds for BP type 2 things are working themselves out.

  4. Chris Pickenpaugh Avatar
    Chris Pickenpaugh

    I get my balance by spending designated “let loose” time with family and then friends. I also play my guitar daily as a sort of meditative therapy.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Sounds like you have good “outer” and “inner” ways of finding balance.

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