by Jake Thompson

Strike a Balance

There are two kinds of physical injuries. There is the obvious snap...

There are two kinds of physical injuries. There is the obvious snap that occurs when something seriously goes wrong, and then there’s the gradually developed, day-after-day injury that worsens over time until it’s bad enough that you are forced to do something about it. The latter is way more common.

I recently went to a specialist about a shoulder injury. I was explaining my pain and what I thought was causing it. At one point I started to mention how weird it was that “all of a sudden” this injury showed up. He interrupted me. It didn’t just all of a sudden appear, he said. It was long in the making and now it’s bad enough that it is insisting on attention.

I now have a couple of theories on the events that led to my shoulder issue. One theory has about a three-month backstory. The other theory provides a two-year backstory. Either way, the result is far from all of a sudden.

As frustrating as it is to realize that certain little things probably led to the erosion of my shoulder, it’s also eye-opening. Hindsight is 20/20, but the best thing about hindsight is that it can improve your current and future vision if you allow yourself to learn from it.

We often think we can avoid imbalances in our lives. For instance, I thought I could get away with ignoring certain muscle groups I don’t enjoy using. I chose to focus on the muscles that have always been my “specialty.” Well, you know how that ended for me. But there is a bigger picture here. Much like we have physical imbalances, we also have psychological imbalances, emotional imbalances, relationship imbalances, and so on. Life is a balancing act.

Failing to reach a personal goal, getting fired, or a relationship ending all have something in common. They all have a backstory. No matter how blindsided you feel when these things happen, they aren’t freak occurrences that come out of left field. They develop over time.

The challenge is to recognize imbalances and proactively tip the scale back to where it needs to be. I say challenge because it is extremely challenging. The areas of our lives that need addressing are generally areas that we want to ignore. Being good at something is fun! Having success feels good! It’s hard to make the choice to willingly do something where you tend not to excel or that you don’t particularly enjoy. But as one speaker put it at a startup event I recently attended, whatever task you are dreading the most, is the task you should do first.  

There are lots of words with stigmas that can work against you when trying to strike your balance. Giving, patience, hard worker, and selfless are considered positive words. Their counterparts, on the other hand, are not so highly regarded. But sometimes always giving and never taking time for yourself is a bad thing. Sometimes holding your tongue is going to hold you back. And since when did we have to work 12+ hour days to be considered a success or valuable asset? I’m not saying you should become a selfish person or slacker, because at that point you’ve slid all the way down the seesaw and hit the ground on the other end. I’m saying there’s a lush middle ground.

If you’re sitting there thinking to yourself that you don’t have any imbalances, think again. Tap into that sixth sense called intuition. It can be scary, but if you pay attention to it and act on it, it is one of your most powerful assets. Take the time to listen.

Ignoring an annoyance or a minor pain could lead to major issues in the future. Don’t wait until something breaks. Take the preventative measures that will protect you from a long recovery period. Find your imbalances. Admit to yourself that there’s an area for improvement, and start improving it. 

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