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Balance and "Decent Minimums" 

Recently I’ve seen some memes and articles recirculate about how you can’t “have it all” in life.  The posts usually say something like “Career, Social Life, Family Life, Exercise - Choose 2 of the 4” or something of the sort.  

I don’t buy it. 

Yes - life ebbs and flows, and our commitments and hours vary depending on the season.  But we shouldn’t ever diminish any area of our life to the point of neglect.

I recently came across the below passage from Dr. Richard Swenson: 

“To achieve balance, first regain control over your life.  Never completely relinquish your schedule to the unpredictable, commercialized, spiritually inauthentic, and sometimes ruthless whims of the world.  Be active in self-examination and intentional in correction.  

Second, identify each area where God has “decent minimum” requirements [our physical bodies regarding sleep, nutrition, and exercise, our relationships, our spiritual life, and our work].  Be sure that adequate resources are given to each.  Pain will arise from those neglected areas where imbalance fails God’s minimum standard.  On the other hand, joy and fulfillment arise from those areas where God’s definition of balance is achieved.”  (from A Minute of Margin, emphasis points mine)


Decent minimums.  I really loved that.  In this stage of life, it’s super easy to go all in on my career, neglecting attention primarily to my physical body, and to a lesser extent my family life.  

I believe those decent minimums look different for everyone, and most likely shift over time.  But I think a good self-evaluation of ourselves can ask if we’re neglecting any of those areas.  

 
Interesting Resources 

1. A Wealth of Common Sense - The Forgotten Bear Markets
Typically most people think of 2008, 2001, 1987, 1973-75, and the Great Depression when talking about bear markets.  These are all memorable because of how large they were - but there are plenty of other “forgotten bears” along the way.  Ben identifies 14 other episodes when stocks dropped around 20% over the past 80 years and provides a snippet of the national or global circumstances surrounding them.  The summary: of these 14 “forgotten bears” the average decline was 25%, and 8 out of the 14 didn’t coincide with a recession.  


2. The Wall Street Journal - Welcome to College.  Now Take a Year Off
YES!  So called Gap years - long popular in Europe - are when a graduating high school student takes a year off before starting college or entering the workforce fully.  Now incoming freshmen at Tufts University, the University of North Carolina, Florida State University, and Princeton can all receive financial support to defer their enrollment for a year to travel, volunteer, or pursue other passions.  A good friend and mentor of mine, Andy Gordley, has been serving at SCORE International and doing just this for awhile now (and students can earn credits that are honored at Lancaster Bible College).  Very cool to see this idea gain some traction.  I feel it’s really difficult to be 18 years old and know precisely what you want to pursue, and end up paying more tuition money changing your mind later.  
Any areas of your life come to mind regarding a “decent minimum” that you feel you’re neglecting?  As I mentioned, specifically for me it’s taking care of my physical body as it’s all too easy to stay up late working or streaming a Netflix series when I really should be getting more sleep (and probably not having that Turkey Hill Choco Mint Chip ice cream double serving).  Here’s my challenge: share it with your spouse, or with a close friend.  Don’t make any commitments yet, just verbalize it.  See how doing just that might nudge you to make a change.  

Gratefully,
Jeremy
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